Duly Noted

Picking up my – then – latest read, Alberto Manguel’s A Reading Diary: A Year of Favourite Books, it soon became clear that I needed a new notebook to scrawl my thoughts in, such were the number.  Thankfully the missus had just such a book ready for me, she knows my needs.

After the mini trauma of filling my last notebook it feels good to be able to be expansive again, as opposed to clumsily noting down phrases on a phone whose keyboard is ill suited to my fat fingers.  Sadly, the joy of writing is one often marginalised in the modern technology orientated world.

Enjoying the pristine whiteness of the pages, there was just one thing I had to do first, before inking any of them.  On the inside front cover the words ‘I have a dream’ were printed, so below them I added ‘this book belongs to Martin Luther King, Jr.’.

Hilarity thus achieved I left the first page – I always allow myself this small luxury in case appropriate words come to mind to place there – and the second became the start of my copious note taking.

Ploughing through book lover Manguel’s words with a happy heart, I’ve already made  a page of notes, some of which will probably be left out of the review for another post – or several –  musing on books.  With twenty-two drafts started just this morning, words are begetting words in the best possible way.

Force of Habit by James Scott Bell – A book Review

It’s been a while since Lyn last posted, and as it’s about books, a reblog is definitely in order.

The Call of the Pen

“A vigilante nun cleans up the streets of Los Angeles. Sinners beware.” So says the description of the first of the Force of Habit series.

James Scott Bell has written four Force of Habit tales and each one of them will have you choking on your coffee (or your Fritos.)
Force of Habit
Force of Habit 2 – And Then There Were Nuns
Force of Habit 3 – Nun the Wiser
Force of Habit 4 – The Nun also Rises

Larger than life people need to have a proper introduction, and you need to know Sister Justicia Marie – or Sister J as she is affectionately known by those outside of the Benedictine Order she belongs to. Force of Habit is a book you’ll read in one sitting. I did, and promptly downloaded the rest.

Sister J is former child star Brooke Bailey — who went the way of many child…

View original post 256 more words

Patty Lou Cutting: The Clive Cussler Conundrum

As we all know, odd little facts about a story can stay with the reader for years, so after last week’s team success in finding a book I had sought for years, I thought I would throw another wider ranging mystery your way to capture your imaginations.

I touched on this a few years ago in another aged post, along with some other various things. It comes from the book Inca Gold, a book of action, adventure, and a lost treasure, which always adds something thrilling to a story.

Towards the end of the book, protagonist Dirk Pitt comes across the grave of 10-year-old girl, Patty Lou Cutting, in the Sonoran Desert, Mexico, upon which the are the words:

The dark night some stars shine through.

The dullest morn a radiant brew.

And where dusk comes, God’s hand to you.

The significance of which is never expanded upon, it just hangs there cryptically, tantalisingly challenging the reader with its nebulous presence. Continue reading “Patty Lou Cutting: The Clive Cussler Conundrum”

My Mail Privilege

After a long, long wait thanks to shenanigans at the local Post Office, I finally have my hands on two new books, kindly sent by authors from England and The United States, respectively. If there is anything to get me back to blogging again, then these packages will certainly be the catalyst.

First off, South of the South Wind is a children’s book that I am very excited to read. Long time readers will know that I have been enchanted with the other books in the series and so this one is, for me a must read. At first glance the book has changed publisher and therefore style, it also smells really good. In the back, there are reviews for some of Nils-Johan’s other books and an excerpt of my review for West of the West Wind is in there, much to my excitement. This has shamelessly been shown off to anybody who came to our house in the last week.

Ocean Echoes came, most probably, the other way around the globe, making me the filling in a book sandwich. Fellow blogger Sheila Hurst sent this and I am now officially the furthest place her book has been sent to, beating both Serbia and the Maldives. The book smells differently, but equally good and the back cover tells the reader that: a percentage from the sale of this book will go toward nonprofit organizations working to protect the world’s oceans for future generations. Once again showing how books can and do make a difference, and how independent authors seek to not only tell a good story (and make a bit of money), but also do their part in highlighting and helping with wider issues.

Faceless Killers – Henning Mankell

One frozen January morning at 5am, Inspector Wallander responds to what he believes is a routine call out. When he reaches the isolated farmhouse he discovers a bloodbath.

An old man has been tortured and beaten to death, his wife lies barely alive beside his shattered body, both victims of a violence beyond reason. The woman supplies Wallander with his only clue: the perpetrators may have been foreign. When this is leaked to the press, it unleashes a tide of racism.

Wallander’s life is a shambles. His wife has left him, his daughter refuses to speak to him, and even his ageing father barely tolerates him. He works tirelessly, eats badly, and drinks his nights away. But now Wallander must forget his troubles and throw himself into a battle against time and against mounting racial hatred.

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a crime novel and as there have been a significant number coming out of Scandinavia in recent years, in both books and on TV. Being, always behind the times, my first foray into the subgenre arrives fashionably late like a clue that traditionally cracks the case.

Faceless Killers is the first novel in the Wallander series and as you would expect the landscape, plot and the titular character’s personal life are all a bit bleak.  There are plenty of descriptions of the weather which will please the Brits, a grim murder scene to be analysed and a familiar feel to protagonist Kurt Wallander.  Family struggles, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and being a lover of classical music are by now all common themes in the detective world.

There are lots of meetings in this book, which I liked, as it felt properly police procedural, rather than being a case of swanning off every five minutes to badger a suspect because nobody likes paperwork.  Most compelling is the patient layering of lots of different pressures coming from many angles,it helps keep distract from the main focus of the investigation but brings up some interesting questions about life in Sweden and the complexities of its politics..

Continue reading “Faceless Killers – Henning Mankell”

The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan, 1975: Twelve-year-old Amir is desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament and his loyal friend Hassan promises to help him. But neither of the boys can foresee what will happen to Hassan that afternoon, an event that is to shatter their lives. After the Russians invade and the family is forced to flee to America, Amir realises that one day he must return to Afghanistan under Taliban rule to find the one thing that his new world cannot grant him: redemption.

Picking this up at the airport was always going to be a risk. as bestsellers always seem to be these days when it to comes to quality.  As expected it was an easy book to get into and a quick read, I enjoyed it to begin with, reading 132 pages in one sitting. Further on there were a few problems that niggled me and ultimately the book became distinctly average.

The first part of the book is superior to the rest by a country mile (or indeed a mile of any sort).  The depiction of Afghanistan and the life as seen through Amir’s eyes was interesting and his relationship with Hassan was one worth investing in .  Seeing the distinctions of class and race, as well as the influence of religion and the day-to-day life rituals of Afghans was something new and refreshing to read about.

I didn’t like Amir at all, he does nothing to endear himself to the reader but I appreciated that, it gives the writing more impact when I did feel sympathy for him.  His relationships with friends and family are decently done, enough to keep me caring about the characters throughout but never overly so.

There is some good prose – again mainly in the first part – and for a time I was totally engaged with the novel and the characters, sadly that ended with the first part of the book and it became more imprecise in its focus before descending into generic bestseller fare.  That is not to say that there wasn’t anything good to speak of in the latter ha;f, I found the nod to a lack of integration or acceptance of older immigrants, into new countries and cultures to be a good topic to approach.  Similarly the intolerance of Islam and the hypocritical way some have of applying religion, which stretches to all religions is a timely topic to write about. Continue reading “The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini”

Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well – Lola A. Åkerström

As the Swedish proverb goes, ‘Lagom är bäst’ (The right amount is best). Lagom sums up the Swedish psyche and is the reason why Sweden is one of the happiest countries in the world with a healthy work-life balance and high standards of living.

Lagom is a way of living that promotes harmony. It celebrates fairness, moderation and being satisfied with and taking proper care of what you’ve got, including your well-being, relationships, and possessions. It’s not about having too little or too much but about fully inviting contentment into our lives through making optimal decisions.

Full of insights and beautiful photographs, taken by Lola herself, this authentic book will help you make small, simple changes to your every day life – whether that’s your diet, lifestyle, money, work or your home – so you can have a more balanced way of living filled with contentment.

Lagom is a deep-set part of Swedish culture, it cultivates a clean, intelligent way of living inside and out.  This sense of balance and sustainability is concisely explained in this book as well as its context in Swedish society and beyond into the wider world.

The presentation of this succinct work is sharp, clear, and colourful throughout sprinkled with plenty of illustrations and some great photos of both scenery, food and everything in between.  It truly makes the reader yearn for a visit to Sweden to soak it all in and go hiking.

There is a comprehensive look at the different ways in which Lagom is invested in many lifestyle choices including; food, health, fashion, work, money and nature, to name a few.  It shows that unlike for other countries – my own included – this is not just a trend but an ingrained way of living. Continue reading “Lagom: The Swedish Secret of Living Well – Lola A. Åkerström”