I had a quick visit with a good friend the other day, someone I haven't seen for a while. She moved east from Langley and I moved west so now we are about an hour and a half apart thus getting together doesn't happen much anymore. She said she missed getting updates from me on what I'd been reading lately. She reminded me of how she always took out her notebook and pen and would write down the titles of all the books I was talking about. I remembered it well. She said she reads this blog faithfully (hi Erna!!) and that I hadn't written about any books for a long time. And she's right. So here, in no particular order, are five recent reads that I enjoyed and recommend:
I bought this book because it was written by a friend of mine, a published author of non-fiction, and this was his first foray into the fiction world. I wouldn't normally have purchased this book as it's a horror book about vampiers and I am not really into the whole vampire genre.
Well, from the first page, it grabbed me. And to me, that is the sign of a book I am going to love. I always read the first page of a book written by an author I've never read before and if it grabs me, I buy it. If not, it goes back on the shelf. I had planned to read this book, grab or no grab, to support my friend. So the fact that it was so gripping right off the bat delighted me; I knew - a bit fearfully- that I was going to enjoy this story. And, sure enough, I could not put it down.
The tale is told from multiple points of view, something that can really annoy me when a book tends to jump back and forth between them. But Michael used this method of storytelling to an effect that was chilling and filled me with dread because some came to a 'dead end' and thus I had no idea who would survive and who wouldn't. The suspense of what may or may not happen heightened the build to an excruciating crescendo. Brilliant.
I don't take many walks in the woods, but the next time I do and come across a pile of boulders or a cave in a hillside, I think I will have to summon all the courage I have to not take a wide detour.
The only criticism I have, well two actually, is that there is a scene missing from the book that I badly wanted to be there, and that the book ended far too soon. I wish it had been twice as long as it just didn't feel like I could sink my teeth into it (no pun intended but, wow that was good, no?).
Here, again, is another book I normally would never have read. I am not a Rolling Stones fan. I could (before reading the book) name perhaps three of their songs. But I was lying by the hotel pool one weekend in Kelowna (I was there for a month, shooting a movie) and out of maybe 15 people at the pool, literally 10 of them were reading this book. That told me it had to be good so I bought it then and there - gotta love having a Kindle with Wi-Fi!!
I really enjoyed this read; it's is a perfect example of why I love autobiographical books - they take you inside a personal experience you can never live or be a part of. And what a world Keith Richards lived and lives in. I was looking forward to reading about his life in England (where I grew up for my first 9 years) as he grew up just a decade before I did and I love reading about life in England at that time, plus I was really interested in finding out how they gained fame.
The story is told with an ease and casual honesty that feels like he's sitting there with you just telling you how it was. There's no pretentiousness, no reaching for a fancy turn of phrase to impress you; it's just raw storytelling and I loved it. By the end of the book I honestly felt like I could just call him up and say, "Hey Keith, how ya doing man? Loved having you tell me the story of your life like that. We should get together for a drink sometime." I've never felt that way after reading an autobiography, and I've read loads of them.
I found my lack of knowledge about the Stones music a bit of a hindrance in really getting lost in the story and that was frustrating to me. So if you are a Stones fan and know all of their songs and know what Keith is talking about when he says, "...you hear and see the transformation of the song, 'Parachute Woman', with that weird sound area like a fly buzzing in your ear or a mosquito or something..." then you're going to love love love this raw, honest telling of a truly extraordinary LIFE. (and I have to add that I was -and am still- SO JEALOUS of his ability to buy not one but TWO homes in the Caribbean. I could hate him for that, but I don't.)
After reading, and loving, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I purchased this book without a second thought. I fully expected it to be every bit as absorbing as those two were and it did not disappoint. It follows the destinies of five interrelated families – one American, one Russian, one German, one English and one Welsh – through the earth-shaking events of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Now if this time in history is something you like to delve into, then you're going to love this book. If, like me, it's hasn't been something you've studied much more than what you were taught in school, then you're going to find it fascinating. And the history is accurate in even the most unexpected places. One of the characters is a very strong woman who married a bit later in life and came from poor working class in England. Her husband decided to run for civic office and she decided to run also and when she won her marriage suffered due to what her husband considered a humiliating defeat by his wife. This actually happened as I discovered, quite by accident, when researching something else a couple of months after finishing the book. I love that. Historically accurate novels and autobiographies are one of my favourite ways to gain knowledge about the past.
Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer. He travels around America, Hawaii (yes I know that's part of America) and a few other places around the world and - like most of us who travel - has some crazy and hilarious stories to tell. I loved it and laughed out loud. He's no Bill Bryson, but it was an entertaining read nevertheless.
After reading it you will either want to book a trip right away or never travel again. Me? - I wanted to write a book based on my own travels. Boy could I tell you some stories (yes, more than are in this blog!). I just might do it one day.
This book is written by a friend I have yet to meet. He lives part time on Tortola and I have gotten to know him a little through postings on a forum I belong to for people who travel to the BVI, as well as we are now FaceBook friends. He was someone I was really hoping to finally meet on my recent trip to the BVI but he left a few days before I got there and arrived back one day after I left. I was staying just down the beach from his home during my time on Tortola and so was really disappointed that I hadn't timed that part of my trip a little better.
When I read that he had just published a book of stories about living on Tortola, I had to buy it. I wanted to support him and I also wanted to read anything about what has become my favourite place on earth. I really enjoyed being able to visualize the places he was speaking about and even some of the people. It's written in a casual conversational story telling style and I loved that. Even if you haven't been to this part of the world, you will really enjoy the characters that populate this book and their funny escapades. He also tells the story of how he got the nickname 'Manpot', something that had intrigued me for some time.
Malcolm is a Hollywood producer (he produced Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous) and, rumour has it, one of the stories in the book may become a children's cartoon series. Here's hoping!
This book is not available on Amazon. It is only available as an electronic download, HERE.
If you're interested in purchasing any of these books, please consider doing so by clicking on the Amazon link below. I will get a tiny commission from anything you buy from my Amazon Selections and all of these books are part of my collection. (If, instead of the book, you see a flashing yellow Amazon ad, just refresh the page and the book should return).
I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.
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Here's my Amazon Store called Sandra's Selections, full of my favourite things and constantly updating it as I discover more fav's. It's more for fun than anything as I've never made a cent off of it.