The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

43808355I’ve read quite a lot of Tess Gerritsen. She is famous for her Rizzoli & Isles (R&I) series – a detective and a medical examiner who solve all the crimes. As one came out, it was  downloaded to Kindle (by my husband and me) and then devoured at a cracking pace. In between, I went on the hunt, and found her older, romantic suspense novels, which I also enjoyed. And lately, I loved Playing With Fire, which was a standalone, and far better than her recent R&I, Die Again, where I wondered if Tess was not perhaps a teensy bit bored.

Cue The Shape of Night – another standalone. This is not your average “mystery thriller”, as it claims on the blurb. Ava escapes Boston, where some shit went down and heads for the coastal village of Maine – Brodie’s Watch, specifically. This is a rental house – old, haunted, wuthering, creaky and squeaky. But it’s all good – she has her cat Hannibal to help her uncover the legends and the sightings of Captain James Brodie, the captain who built and lived in the house. She’s come because she needs to complete a cook book, and there are some mouth watering descriptions of the food, eerie evenings in the house,  some strange stories of past visitors and even stranger appearances of visitors and strangers. Who do you trust? Ava didn’t expect to have to confront all her demons and then some more in sleepy Maine.

All good. The part that requires some suspension of belief is the interaction with the paranormal sojourners. While I wouldn’t describe it as “ghost porn”, as some of my fellow reviewers have, it’s certainly raunchy, and more than a little weird. Not sure about this part, but the book does work. And with Tess, you know you’re in good hands, she sets a great pace, and most of the sexy scenes with “suspicious” characters are forgivable. I still think she was veree bored when she wrote this though.

Not a yawn, but maybe a miss if you’re not into paranormal thrillers.

4 stars

ISBN: 1984820958

You may also enjoy Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, or Blacklands by Belinda Bauer.

 

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddWhile reading this book, I noted the following in my journal, which I know is a quote, but where from? Either the book itself, or a review of it. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. I’ll just add that this is accurate when it comes to Daisy Jones and the Six.

“We love broken, beautiful people. And it doesn’t get more obviously broken and more classically beautiful than Daisy Jones. So it makes sense that Daisy starts to find herself on the sunset strip. This glamorous seedy place.”

Daisy, if you haven’t figured it out, is a singer. And The Six were her band. And this is the story of them, their lives, their interactions, their heady fame and short-lived glamour. This was my first Taylor Jenkins Reid, and it will definitely not be my last.

It’s written as a series of recorded interviews with key people from the time of their fame and after. You’ll be forgiven, if like me, you keep thinking this is history, not historical FICTION (mostly fiction). The band, and Daisy are so unforgettable and real, you will want to go and find their music to read more about them. Apparently the author immersed herself in 70s rock – Fleetwood Mac, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt to mention a few. It shows. There are even a few (fictional) lyrics from Daisy’s and The Six’s own hands – which I loved, because it seemed to add an extra layer of authentication.

And that, probably is the single factor (if I have to narrow it down) that made me love this book so much. I loved the authenticity. It’s amazing when gorgeous flawed characters reflect our humanity in all its forms from the brokenness to the moments of extraordinary courage and beauty. This story was set in the 70s, in LA, mainly, and the sense of place was extraordinarily beautiful.

There were lots of favourite moments, which I won’t explain, because spoilers. Suffice to mention the relationships – Karen and Graham, Daisy and Billy, Camila and Billy, were so real and raw and honest and I gasped and wept and laughed and cried.

A full and fabulous 5 stars to this brilliant book.

ISBN: 9781524798628

You might also enjoy Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Here’s a link to my last round of recommendations. Yes, I know it was a long time ago – I’ve been a bad blogger, but as my gynaecologist told me last time I went – “You’re here now” I’m blogging. For now.

Ten of the Best #5

Zapiro Boris HulkHappy weekend, everybody. This edition is earlier than usual, because I’m so busy this weekend. What a lovely thought. But we couldn’t have a weekend without a catch-up of our favourites on all our social media posts. Don’t you just love the Zapiro. Even more delightful is the fact that Boris set himself up for this by making the initial comparison.

I’ll start with an admission. I had no idea what a “homecoming assembly” is. But apparently ’tis the season for them, and their dances. A quick Wikipedia look-up revealed that homecoming is a fundraiser for a school/college that usually takes place around a major sporting event and even a prom-like dance, parades and general festivities. Sounds like a fabulous idea. Here’s a Marvel-themed dance, with a great mash-up of songs.

 

 

Have you watched Downton Abbey? You need to, before the movie, which released 20 September. If you haven’t, or haven’t finished, here’s the recap.

 

 

 

Want to train your brain? Learn a musical instrument – from The Guardian. Click the pic.

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Wait up, did the judges of America’s Got Talent just try to adopt Ndlovu Youth Choir as Americans? Well, then they should at least have won the competition, which they didn’t. But they remain OUR stars after all. Here’s the performance, for those of you who’ve been living under rocks (and missed it).

 

This was their competition – Detroit Choir, who came in second place. What do you think? Better? No, I don’t think so either.

Melville made it! One of the best neighbourhoods in the world.

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And still in SA, Caitlin Rooskrantz won a gold medal for gymnastics.

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Bravo, Theresa Kachindamoto. Ending child marriage in Malawi and sending girls back to school.

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Nicely written by Kathleen Ebersohn – Teaching our boys to love.

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I loved this too – Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain.

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We will sign out with this one… Naomi Osaka was on Ellen, again. Naomi is the cutest, nicest person ever, and I love the gentle teasing from both these women.

That’s all for the weekend, guys. Happy resting. Here’s the link to last week.

Ten of the Best #4

Good Morning all. It’s Saturday again, and I had such a great time collecting all the best from FB, Twitter and all the social media sites this week. Here they all are in one place, for me and you to watch at our leisure. Hope you find something worthwhile.

If you haven’t heard about Trump’s Sharpie Scandal,the good bad news is, it’s not over…Seth Myers weighs in.

Confession time, I haven’t read this whole article – but do read even the opening lines. For this is honesty here… “I voted Remain, not because I was so convinced (at the time I was too uninformed to have such strong conviction)…” Wasn’t 99% of the population? And now? Well maybe after reading this we could all be better informed? Barry McGuinness, British person on “Why Remainers are so convinced they’re right”, to paraphrase it ever so slightly.

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Meanwhile, back in SA, we have the NHI. Here’s a letter, written in the future, describing possible outcomes. Thanks Dawie Roodt.

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More from the Ndlovu Youth Choir. Apparently this week, America’s Got Talent finals happen. I also read that they would not have been voted to stay in the finals – the judges had to save them at the time. So we need to get all our American friends to vote for them. It’s such a pity that we can’t vote for them from SA. These guys are brilliant, and I’m so proud of them.

On sisters, and how to win in sports events, and just quite lovely writing.

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Did you know there’s a new John le Carre novel out soon? Here’s more detail, and an excerpt. Click the pic of Carre, and try not to think how aged he looks (!). Because he’s only a little older than us, isn’t he?

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This is just the cutest thing.

Someone decided to complete the cheesy memes with sarcasm. These are great.

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This is interesting. Nikki Bush on the value of a degree these days. Some good advice here.

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Another cute video – little girl and her cat singing “We built this city”.

 

That’s me done and signing off for the weekend. Enjoy, everyone.

More? Here’s the link to last week’s Ten.

Ten of the Best #3

Good morning, everyone. It’s a coolish Saturday in the hub of the ‘burbs of Gauteng, and it’s time to catch up. On all the stuff we missed this week, or couldn’t watch, because – you know, we were at work (well, some of us), or wifi sucked, or was absent, or we just thought – “I’ll watch later”. I went and found all of those of mine and am sharing them with you.

I live in SA. Therefore we begin with the tragedy of Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was brutally raped and assaulted and killed when she… went out at night, dressed inappropriatelydidn’t stay in her group, WENT TO THE POST OFFICE. There is a myriad of photos online of outrage evidenced at nationwide protests, one in Cape Town culminating with an address by the president. Here’s just one blog post worth reading on the topic – by Brett Fish. So sad, our country today – RIP Uyinene.

 

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And a charming story about a silly TV host who laughed about boys and ballet, and was shown something beautiful. Bravo all.

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Speaking of SA and London, once upon a time a South African cyclist took on a driver near Regent’s Park. If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth a watch.

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I watched this because of the headline – Hurricane Dorian meets Sh*tstorm Donald… Clever, Trevor.

 

I love watching Grace and Frankie, June Diane Raphael in particular, and then she goes and does this. Nice work.

And then, as if my day wasn’t already made – this!

And, did you know, our very own Ndlovu Youth Choir made it through to the FINAL of America’s Got Talent (AGT). This  will make you sing along, maybe even dance. I think the show airs on a Tuesday evening, and it’s either this week or next, so look out for it, and support our superstars.

This is gold, especially about 5 and a half minutes in, where Michael asks the difficult-to-answer question – if we can’t see the letters on the optometrist’s chart, why do we feel the need to guess? ROTFL stuff.

And another clip that made my week. Naomi Osaka, who knows a thing or two about emotions on display at huge sports events and the pitfalls thereof, helps Coco Gauff. Just brilliant.

We’re on number nine, guys… and I can’t choose between the world’s most brilliant bookstores (which I have to post, for reference later) and why English makes no sense. So here they both are.

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Have a fantabulous weekend. Rest well and have some fun.

Need more? Here’s last week’s Ten

Good morning, good morning, good morning. Ten of the best is back. I’ve had such fun compiling my favourites from social media (read: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) last week. Lots of stories about women and books in this edition. Keen? So was I. Grab your tea and settle in where the wifi’s on and the sound level adjusted appropriately. The images link to the articles, and you’re welcome to come back for more.

We’re going to start with the hilarious. Have you ever noticed how many books feature girls/women/sister/daughter/wife in the title? Here, Wendi Aarons and KJ Dell’Antonia translate the storyline for us middle-aged women. Have a read.

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More seriously, “last year, 87,000 women were murdered around the world, and more than half (50,000 or 58 percent) were killed by partners or family members. Over a third (30,000) of those intentionally killed last year were murdered by a current or former intimate partner. This means that, globally, six women are killed every hour by someone they know.” HuffPost reports.

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Christina Quaine explores bibliotherapy (isn’t that a wonderful word?) Did you know that the NHS is prescribing books to help with mental health, and recommends books to help with bereavement, heartbreak, stress and anxiety? Me neither.

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This is such a good checklist – and manages to offer good advice, without being preachy or cheesy, which is quite an achievement. 26 Suggestions on how to know you’re emotionally mature.

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In pictures, I loved the detail in these national geographic microscopic photographs. Beautiful.

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This appealed to me – “Women’s time has been interrupted and fragmented throughout history, the rhythms of their days circumscribed by the sisyphean tasks of housework, childcare and kin work – keeping family and community ties strong. If what it takes to create are long stretches of uninterrupted, concentrated time, time you can choose to do with as you will, time that you can control, that’s something women have never had the luxury to expect, at least not without getting slammed for unseemly selfishness.”

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Judge Edwin Cameron retired last week, and I liked this tribute from Eusebius.

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This tweet thread made my day. Rachel R Romeo shared why she does what she does, in such an awesome way – first with a son, then a father, and then with us on twitter. Have a look.

And Taylor Swift’s latest release – Lover – is trending. So, even if you’re over Taylor, you need to know what your opinion of her song is. Watch here.

“Meanwhile in London, this guy is living his best life. ” Laughed at this.

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Well, if I can still count, that’s ten. Have a great weekend, everybody.

Here’s last week’s Ten.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

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Hello, my name is Bev, I’m a backslidden blogger. It has been about six months since my last book review. And I’m terrified by both the overwhelming feelings of “I may never blog again” and “Once I start, I’ll be blogging again, and I may never stop”.

So it’s safest to start with a trusted author. I read this back before I stopped blogging – Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

Kingsolver, forever remembered for The Poisonwood Bible, has written a plethora of books. The only one I enjoyed was the famed one – Lacuna was not finished. This one was devoured on a long car trip – the Audible version.

Barbara (it really is her – she reads the audiobook, and she does so well) tells the story of Willa Knox, who is a little like all of us. Okay, maybe just me, but I loved her – she was just ever so relatable. She’s a responsible parent, wife, friend and writer (see 😇), but has found herself middle-aged, with a number of fully grown adults dependent on her, and very few resources available (including the absence of a career 😜) to satisfy their endless needs. Her son, Zeke, daughter Tig and obstreperous (Greek) father-in-law are the primary of these. Her husband tries, but that only makes him more trying.

So Willa, as one does, decides to investigate the history of her ancient, falling down house, hoping it’s of some value so she can raise some funds to restore it. In doing so, she discovers the story of Thatcher Greenwood, a science teacher and his friend, the naturalist Mary Treat (a real life historical character). They are most interested in the truth, and Mary corresponds with Charles Darwin, who holds views that were unpopular with the evangelical leaders of the time, including Thatcher’s boss. There’s more history courtesy of Vineland, and its founder, Charles Landis. Fascinating, and very entertaining.

Kingsolver does not shy away from tackling tricky questions, or from exposing current thought patterns from leaders as the amorphous mess they often are. She does this in a light and humorous way, but for those who are big believers in the current regime, they may feel attacked. Here’s an example:

“I suppose it is in our nature,” she said finally. “When men fear the loss of what they know, they will follow any tyrant who promises to restore the old order.” 

As the story draws us in, more bad things happen, as they do, and all the poignant personal interactions between family members – who have evidently experienced all the highs and lows that relationships bring – are a lovely counterpoint to the shitstorm raging around them. A reminder that humanity has come this far, and if you’ve got someone to love, you may just make it. Don’t you love these excerpts?

“The thing is, Mom, the secret of happiness is low expectations. That’s a good reminder, right there. If you didn’t lose your husband and kids all in one year, smile! You’re ahead of the game.”

“His confidence was enviable and maddening. Most of the time she didn’t want him to solve or contradict her worries, she just needed him to listen and agree with her on the awfulness at hand. This was a principle of marriage she’d explained many times.”

And a personal favourite –

“There but for the grace of serotonin go the rest of us.”

As you may be able to tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think the author (deliberately) pushed some buttons, probably upsetting quite a few fans in the process, but I admire her for it. Some of those things needed to be said. Yes, in a novel – where else does one discover any truth?

“Even this far inland, New Jersey was still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, which in its time, a few years back, had been called the storm of the century. How foolish it seemed now to label anything “of the century.” This one was still a teenager with an anger-management problem and a long future ahead.”

“How had she not seen all this? Willa was the one who raised her anxiety shield against every family medical checkup or late-night ring of the phone, expecting the worst so life couldn’t blindside them.” 

Yay, I wrote a review. See, Bev – that wasn’t so hard.

ISBN: 9780062865502

You may also enjoy Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers, or Anne Patchett’s Commonwealth

tenorWell, it’s been a while. And if only I could say that I’d spent all that time redesigning and rethinking my blog. I haven’t. I’ve just moved it to a .wordpress.com site. I have been taking a break, having an awesome holiday, and doing a giant jigsaw puzzle, but more on that in other posts.

If you’re here for the first time, as in ever, welcome.

It’s Saturday, and as used to be the custom, I do a roundup of all the social media sites that have made it to my top ten for the week. There’s usually a bit of fun, a little music, a rant or two. No rules, just what I’ve liked. The idea is you grab your favourite brew, settle in and catch up. Seen it before? Keep scrolling. Click the pictures for the links to the article/clip and use your back button to come back here for more. Enjoying the content? Leave me a like or a comment – anywhere you like.

Happy Saturday, let’s get started.

Since it’s been a while, we need a recap. James Corden does it so well.

There’s a BIG difference between making a mistake with the sperm donor, and the doctor using his own. I’m not sure it’s sexual assault, but it’s eeewwww.

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I like all things grammar. Some parts of this went over my head, but hey, I can learn too.

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We need more number 50s…

I love Ellen and this Baby Boomers vs Millennials is gold.

A handy infographic on SA’s population. Warning, though – they’ve mixed up the life expectancy for the women and the men. Did anyone else spot that?

This professor did a bike ride to show that people with one kidney, having donated their other, can still achieve amazing physical feats. Bravo.

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I can’t believe this appointment hasn’t been finalised yet. Surely there can’t be objections?

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Anyone watched Netflix’s The Great Hack? Well, if you have, you may never use Facebook again. Good news – FB users can take control of their data. Just not in SA yet.

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I loved this – how an outdoor movie night went wrong…

 

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Well, that’s all for this week. Enjoy the weekend.

Want to see some older posts? Here you go.