Monthly Archives: September 2013

No Smoking

I would really love a durrie right now. It’s been 3 days and 23 hours since I had one. Then I went to a hypnotist for a bit of no smoking therapy.  The hypnosis was interesting – it is really just a deep relaxation/meditation thingy. But it did seem to have some short term benefit. I came home not feeling one bit like having a fag. But alas, by the next day the cravings had set in. Apparently, cravings are supposed to be spasmodic and last for about 3 seconds. Shame my brain doesn’t know that because it seems to just go on and on with me. The Responsible Adult went along a few hours after me and by day 2, I thought she was going to crash and burn. But she got a surprising call to go to work and came home all bright, positive and happy. And I thought she would be the one to struggle. She is going really well.images

So I shall just look to the benefits. My smokers cough is nearly gone. My blood pressure is the best it’s been in years. The house smells better and is neater. We aren’t paying exorbitant amounts of tax to Tony Abbott’s government. The downside is being a bit miserable, but that will pass as will the cravings. No need to wish me luck – I know that if I have a smoke, it will relieve the cravings for about 5 minutes, then they will be back with a vengeance. Best to just stick it out.

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Pierced – Thomas Enger

So, is it just me or do we all struggle with difficult names in Scandinavian crime fiction?  It’s one of the downsides to reading this stuff. I guess we are all looking for another Steig Larsen. Won’t find it here.

Pierced is a bit formulaic for me, but perhaps I should mention this is book 2 in a series where I haven’t read book 1. Our hero is a damaged journalist. He is coming to grips with the death of his son which apparently happened in book one. He has a convenient memory lapse which can slowly be returned over a number of books. He is separated from his wife who is having an affair with his main rival at work. OMG – how will he cope?

There are multiple crimes and multiple bad guys in the novel. We get red herrings tossed at us and a killer is brought to justice leaving the mastermind out there for a follow up book. It isn’t fast paced but kept me interested.

Fans of crime fiction probably won’t feel let down and would happily read it. But there is better stuff out there.

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The Penelopiad – Margaret Attwood

I just want to make sure you know that I am a big fan and would read a shopping list if Margaret Attwood wrote it. This is one of those publisher initiated series where famous writers retell various myths and legends. We are treated to the telling of Penelope, wife of Odysseus. The story of Odysseus is told in the Odyssey – where he goes to the Trojan war for 10 years and the Iliad where he takes 10 years to get home. When he finally does manage to get home, faithful Penelope has been waiting and fending off a whole lot of suitors. Odysseus kills the suitors and for good measure, twelve serving maids.

Margaret Attwood must have had a lot of fun writing this and it is a lot of fun to read. She uses prose and poetry and allows Penelope to speak to us in the present. The legendary beauty, Helen of Troy is Penelope’s cousin and is described as ‘poison on legs’ and ‘that septic bitch’. Wonderful stuff. Also talking to us are the twelve maids who are still seeking justice for their murder. Most of their dialogue is in the form a play where they deliver witty and sarcastic dialogue. They also seek to deconstruct the myth and reveal some hidden meanings in the tale.

There is a decent amount of feminist message in this work along with humour, playfulness, politics poetry and wonderful prose. A classic tale wonderfully told in a modern voice. Loved it.

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The Field of Blood Denise Mina

If you like the crime genre, then here is a gem for you. I’m very glad to have found this one. It is a Scottish tale and be warned – the opening crime is rather nasty. Even nastier when you find out it was based on a real event. Don’t be put off, you are starting a great read. Our heroine is Paddy Meehan and in fact, there is another Paddy Meehan in the novel. It isn’t as confusing as it seems, one is a fictional account of a real Paddy Meehan, small time crook framed for murder. You won’t confuse this guy with our teenage heroine of the same name.

The novel is set in Glasgow in 1981. Poverty, sexism and religious bigotry  combine to make it an unappealing place. Paddy is a copy ‘boy’ with aspirations to become a journalist. She constantly worries about her weight and is alternately full of self doubts and bold as brass. There isn’t a lot of support for Paddy. Her family expect that she will marry and have children. Work is dominated by hard drinking men who are rather disparaging and have no regard for her.

The stories run side by side. As our heroine is testing out her investigative journalism skills and getting into trouble with her family, we are being told the story of the other Paddy Meehan. It is all works well. And to make it even more wothwhile, a portrait of Scotland in the early 80’s is thrown in with great skill.

It’s pretty dark, but with some nice Scottish humour added.

It all mixes to become a great piece of literature. Great news for me is that there are more Paddy Meehan novels to read AND this was apparently made into a movie for me to have a look at. I’m a happy camper.

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Restless – William Boyd

Wow – A ripping yarn well told and well written. Who could ask for anything more? Not me. A terrific novel which opens with Ruth, a single mother and potential academic being given the news from her mother that she is not actually Sally Fairchild but in fact, Eva Delectorskaya. Eva was born in Russia, escaped the revolution to France and was there recruited by the British to be a spy.

The chapters move back and forth from Ruth to Eva and the tension builds nicely. Ruth is exposed to the Iranian protest of the Shah and the Red Army Faction, but that exposure doesn’t particularly go anywhere. The real story is with Eva. Still, it’s a handy reminder that no matter what time period we live in, there is always a threat from someone or other – threats may change but they don’t go away. Defeat one, you get another.

The female characters are very bright and resourceful. Eva is perhaps a bit unbelievably tough, but not so much that you have to suspend belief.

Boyd gives us some great stuff from the early part of WW2 particularly in respect to the involvement (or rather non involvement) of the US. It ties up really, really nicely at the end. A great read that was adapted to television. Think I may have a look at it.

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The Coroner – M R Hall

I recently found out that I had missed this, the first book of the Jenny Cooper series and was debating whether it would be worth going back after reading the second and third installments. It was. I guess we can than Hollywood for inventing the prequel idea so it worked just like that.

This introduction to our heroine is a terrific read. We get to meet Jenny as she sets up in a new job (and a new house following her marriage breakdown). She has taken up her role in a position where all the blokes are chummy and perhaps help each other out a bit too much. Jenny has become pretty much addicted to prescription drugs to help her maintain a professional facade, but has guts, determination and a big social conscience.

Her tenacity and dedication to the truth will get her through, but it is a very bumpy ride. Jenny Cooper has been firmly established as my favorite crime fighter. I just hope there are people like her in the justice system.

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Cubby House for Sale

After 18 years of domestic bliss, it’s time for the Responsible Adult and I to move on and so the cubby house is on the market. It’s just too big for us. Typically, it looks great. This has happened to every house we have owned – we make it all look great for the sale. Next house, I will work very hard to make it look great from day 1. But back to this place. There is no doubt that I will cry sometime after signing a contract. This has been pretty much the only home I have ever had. Sure, I’ve had houses before (and pretty darn nice ones) but this place is home. We grew the naughty boys here, went through the great times of raising a family and shooing them off to make their own lives. We’ve had great parties and many, many good times. I love this place.

Anyway, when we put the third paddock on the market, it sold pretty quickly after I posted a blog about it. So I thought I would try the same trick again.  

If you know anyone that wants to live in paradise (talking about the little town) in a lovely home that is rather large, then send them my way.

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