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Anne Frank

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I’ve neglected my blogging.   I last updated in January.  I really didn’t think it had been that long. What can I say? The usual excuses.  It’s been busy at work, and by the time I get home I’m exhausted.    After I’ve caught up with the usual (boring chores) around home, it feels like I have little time left to catch up with blogging.  Even now, as it is, the spare time I have is under pressure.  The hubby will be home soon, and we will chat and catch up about our day.  Then I have to get food cooked, and get ready for work, as I am a night shift worker.

Anyway, my last post I blogged about the Goodreads challenge.   I’ve kept on track with it and it’s already half way through the year.

I’ve read some good books so far.  Mostly serious books.  One chick lit book.  One book, that I’d never read, but always wanted to read, was the Diary of Anne Frank.  I’ve watched movies and documentaries about her, but never read her actual diary, so finally, after some 40 years or so of reading, I thought it was about time I actually read the diary.  In the beginning of the diary it was mostly lighthearted, not that different from what mine would have been, albeit in a different era, the writing of a young girl whose life involved school, friends and boys, like most teenagers.  To start with, there were a few hints of the underlying situation in Germany but she either did not think things would deteriorate or she just did not want to talk much about the seriousness of those times.  Once they go into hiding and as time goes by, it becomes apparent, that as they try to hold onto some semblance of a normal routine, it is extremely difficult living with the same people in close quarters and no way to really take “time out” from one other.  It also was hard as for Anne as a teenager, to be sharing her sleeping space with an older man who was particular in his ways and couldn’t understand the mind of a young teenager.  It’s so sad that she had a fractious relationship with her mother while in hiding, but I do feel that happened because they were in hiding and not able to develop a normal relationship during Anne’s teen years.  What I found difficult while reading the book, especially towards the end, was knowing there was not going to be a happy ending for a young girl with all her dreams and aspirations. It’s so tragic that they got through most of the war, only to die not long before it ended.

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Fever – Deon Meyer

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So, the first month of 2018 is nearly at an end.  For the last few years I have done the Good Reads reading challenge.  The first two years I read the amount of books I challenged myself to do so.  Last year, disappointingly I didn’t read what I challenged myself.  Maybe moving homes had something to do with it and adjusting to changes.  Such is life.  Anyway, this year, although it’s early days, I am on track.  I have settled into my new home, and have been reading more again, so I am a happy bookworm once more.  Fever was one of the last books I read in December, and it warranted a review, so here it is.fever 2

Deon Meyer writes South African crime thrillers, which delve  into the often bloodthirsty criminal world of this country, from urban crime to poaching.  So when I saw Fever, I was surprised.  The book imagines a South Africa (and the rest of the world) after a virus has killed  off over 90% of humanity.  No, not zombies or aliens, just a good old fashioned devastating virus.  I enjoy post apocalyptic stories (zombies and aliens, included from time to times), but admittedly, I prefer stories where the possibility of apocalypse is a reality and Fever is one such story.

It’s about a father and his young son who survive the fever, and the father’s quest to carve out a community that will become self sufficient.  That he does, with an an assortment of characters from various walks of life.  Of course not everyone in the community sees eye to eye, and there are internal conflicts that have to be dealt with as well as the external threats, like dealing with packs of vicious dogs, marauding bikers and unusual weather patterns.   We see the community grow and slowly flourish despite their hardships and we see the young son become a man, and how he deals with living in a harsh and dangerous new world.  My only gripe would be the ending.  I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t read Fever, but I felt it was a little over the top when one finds out how the virus spread.  Other than that though, I felt it was a good read, which I enjoyed, and for those into this type of genre, give it a try, it won’t disappoint for the most part.

Thirteen Reasons Why.

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A very long time ago, when I was sixteen, I took a handful of tablets and tried to end my life.  Fortunately I didn’t succeed.  I was miserable, didn’t have many friends and just wanted some attention.  Yes, I got teased at times.  I was shy and quiet.   I lacked confidence.  I didn’t get much attention from the opposite sex, because I was shy and quiet.  That said, I never blamed anyone specifically for my suicide attempt.  I never wrote a list like Hannah did and blamed a whole lot of people for deciding to take my life.  Then again, I didn’t grow up with the internet and cell phones and bullying was taken to a whole new level.  While reading the book, I wished I could grab Hannah by the shoulders and say “It gets better, it really does.  You don’t have to go to school for the rest of your life.  You leave school and even though the real world can be hard, your life is own and it’s not all bad.  Yes, you have bad days, but you get through those bad days.  You learn to appreciate the simple joys of life.”  Was Hannah being selfish by committing suicide?  Or was she really simply not strong enough in the end?    It was a sad book and it had a bittersweet ending.  I don’t believe the book focused enough on how Hannah’s suicide impacted her parents.   I watched a few episodes of the series on Netflix and I think they did her parents grief more justice than the book did.  I don’t know though, if it will actually stop teenagers from wanting to end their lives.  Hopefully though maybe it will stop some teenagers from teasing others.  That even the lack of words of hurt.  Be nice to that quiet kid.  Don’t tease someone just because they aren’t good at sport, or don’t dress in the trendiest clothes, or because they are “geeky”.  We are all unique and we are all special.

Like Clockwork – Margie Orford.

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It’s been sometime since I’ve posted here.  Not for lack of reading books or watching films though.  I have my excuses, some valid and some not so, but it’s the excuses that I really shouldn’t let get in the way of my writing and blogging that are the ones holding me back.  So, not to bore any more.

For quite a while I have been wanting to read Margie Orford’s Clare Hart thriller series, which I eventually got around to doing so.  Well, the first one at least, Like Clockwork.  Set in Cape Town, the protagonist is police profiler Clare Hart.  It’s a grim murder novel, that delves into the criminal underworld of Cape Town, and human trafficking/prostitution and a serial killer.  In such crime/murder novels, for the most part, the detectives/investigators (or police profiler as in the case of Ms Hart) always have more than their fair share of personal problems, and Clare Hart is no exception.  I am always on the look out for books set in South Africa, which is why I had wanted to read the first of her books.  It wasn’t a bad offering.  It wasn’t a great offering either.  I’ve read better thrillers.  When reading such thrillers, I expect such stories to be on the realistic side, yes, harsh and sometimes brutal, as certainly crime in South Africa can be, but it’s got to be realistic yet I found the ending somewhat unbelievable, and a bit of an anti climax and one always feels a little let down when a book ends that way.  Nevertheless, it’s not a book that I’ve written off at all, and it had it’s merits, particularly in that it portrays the very grim reality of the criminal underbelly quite well.  Not a bad read.  I’ve got the second book in the series, so I will read it, and see if it does better than the first.

 

Science Fiction

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It’s been a while since I updated here, so time to do some catching up.  Since February,when I last posted, I have read some some average books, and some good books.  The two books I enjoyed the most were science fiction, Wool and Sand, both by the same author, Hugh Howey.

The first one I read was Wool, set in a world that is uninhabitable outside, so humans are living in silos. If you are into science fiction, it’s a really good read with lots of action and suspense, but also the necessary human emotions to go with it.  Next I read Sand, which I enjoyed more than Wool.  The opposite of living in silos, humans are living in a desert which is engulfing the land, but not everything is quite as it seems.  Again, good action and suspense, and characters that I enjoyed reading about.  Howey’s stories are plausible, because who knows what Earth will end up like many thousands from now.  According to google, Wool may be made into a movie and it wouldn’t surprise me, it deserves to be.

neverwhere

Neverhwere was an entertaining fantasy read, which I really enjoyed.  Imaginative and with lots of action and adventure, the story was about a young man thrust into an alternate London and what he gets caught up in. If this is your cup of tea, it’s a good read.

So far for 2016, my three best reads have been science fiction/fantasy.

The Bone Woman

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the bone woman

My fourth book for this year was not a particularly light read.  I can’t imagine digging up bodies for a living.  As a nurse I’ve seen dead bodies, but those bodies aren’t ones that have been cut up with machetes, as in Rwanda in 1994 or shot during the Bosnian War in the 90’s.  I’ve had people say to me “I can’t imagine being a nurse and doing what you have to do.”  Well, I can’t imagine doing what people like Clea Koff do.  Each to their own and respect to the likes of her for doing it.  It was interesting reading the Amazon reviews for the book.  She got some flak for not showing enough emotion and for being too over confident.  Well, when you are working in a church that has bloody hand prints on the walls, I would say one would need to be able to distance ones self from letting it get to you, in order to do your job professionally.  How do people know what she goes through in private, and what emotion she feels – she wrote about her nightmares, I’d say that’s emotion.  Considering she was in her early twenties when she began in Rwanda, she was young, and then she wrote the book ten years or so later, I would reckon that anthropology is not a common career choice for young people, so I’m not surprised that some people thought she was over confident.  I’ve read a fair bit about Rwanda but not much the Bosnian War.  I found the part about hospital staff and patients getting taken out of the hospital, and forced into trucks and taken to their deaths, particularly chilling.  Not to mention people being hacked to death in a church.  Mankind at it’s absolute worst.  Again, not a light read, but in some ways by reading a book like that, one is hopefully keeping the memory alive, of all those innocent people who lost their lives unnecessarily, murdered in absolute cold blood.

Leaving Before The Rains Come

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leaving before the rains I have read Alexandra Fuller’s previous memoirs and the best was her first, Don’t Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight where she writes boldly about her family tragedies while she was growing up in Zimbabwe and then Zambia.  Her two other books after that were Scribbling the Cat and Cocktail Hour Under The Tree of Forgetfulness, which while good weren’t as good as the first. They lived on farm at one point in the seventies, during the height of the war in Rhodesia where it was extremely dangerous to travel around what with the risk of driving over a land mind on the dirt roads or getting attacked by the  “terrs”- the terrorists or the freedom fighters, depending on which side you were on.  In comparison, I grew up at the same time, in a relatively safe town (Marandellas – or Marondera now) and my Dad was very grounded and lived for nearly thirty years in our home there until he died.  Somewhat different to the Fullers.  It wasn’t all plain sailing for my family, we never had a lot of money, and my Dad worked hard to pay the house off over 25 years.  One could say I might have had an almost boring childhood compared to Alexandra Fuller’s, even though we grew up in the same era.

Leaving Before The Rains Come, is more a memoir of her marriage and divorce, how she adjusted to life in America, after she and her husband left Zambia, where her parents had moved, to farm, after they had left Zimbabwe.  The story is interspersed with her memories of growing up in Zambia and it makes for an interesting and good read.

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