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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.

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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.

Skop, skiet en donner.

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I can’t believe it’s been well over three months since I last posted here.  I’ve kept meaning to but for various reasons (excuses) haven’t done so.  It’s not for lack of reading.  I guess work and just trying to keep up with life in general have kept me busy, not to mention the stresses that go along with living in South Africa, which have kept my mind somewhat preoccupied recently, but it’s time to stop using those excuses which I believe, correctly or incorrectly, keep me doing what I really want to do and that is doing more of this.  Writing and blogging.

Last year I took up the Goodreads challenge and over optimistically challenged myself to read 52 books.  I would have liked to have read that much, but it was just a bit too much.  So this year I have challenged myself to a more reasonable number of 24 books and so far I am on track.  If I read more, great, but I will make sure I read at least 24.

I won’t say I’ve read any great literary wonders so far this year, but they’ve made for good enough reading.  In keeping with my African roots, so to speak, all four books I’ve read this year have been based in Africa.

place of reeds 2

Read between Christmas & New Year, this is a true story about Caitlin Davies a British woman and her marriage to a mixed race Botswana man, and the challenges she faced, particularly the culture clashes so to speak, and the complex relationships she had with her husband’s family.  Her story also captures the essence of life in southern Africa, especially life in the more isolated villages and towns  and those are the parts of the book I enjoyed the most.  However it draws to a sad end, after Caitlin is raped and how she deals with it and how her family, her in laws in particular, deal with the rape and with her.  The end, I find is particularly sad, and I do hope life has been better to her and her daughter since then.

dark heart 2

Tony Park is an Australian author who while on safari in South Africa apparently fell in love with country and now writes best selling novels that are based in South Africa.  This one was based around the Rwandan genocide, and the illegal trade in wildlife in Africa.  The book was a good enough adventure/action romp. Maybe somewhat implausible at times, but it kept me going, wanting to know what would happen in the end, so I’m fine with that. As we say in South Africa, it’s a “skop, skiet en donner” story. (meaning “kicking, shooting and beating people up”) If that’s your sort of story, you’ll enjoy it. In some ways he reminded me of Deon Meyer.

The other two I’ll review soon, and hopefully not in several months time!

In the meantime, I’m giving Africa a break and am reading a Neil Gaiman novel – who I’ve never read before.  Different, but it’s got my attention.

The Diana Gabaldon Outlander Series and One Summer – America, 1927

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outlander collage books keep calm outlanderoutlander film picThese books are large ones, with lots of rambling adventures.  Right now I am busy reading the third installment Voyager.  The first two books, Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber, were mostly about Claire, the “Sassenach” (Scottish for English person) and the big red haired Scot Jamie, who fall in love.  Claire travels through stones in Scotland in 1945 and ends up in Scotland some 200 years previously.  Although Claire is married in 1945, she and Jamie marry, for Claire’s safety, but their attraction to one another is immediate and soon they are passionately in love. While reading these books, although I have enjoyed them, and the story line of time travel, they are around 700 pages or longer, and I find I need a break from their rambling adventures so I will find something else to read.  The first one I finished in 2013, and then when I watched the first series (which does justice to the books) last year, I finished the second book  and now am nearly half way through the third, which for whatever reason I have gotten through fairly quickly compared to the other two.  If anything they probably could have been slimmed down a little, and some of the rambling done away with. I do have all the series on my kindle, until book 8, so I expect I will take a while to finish them.

The other night I felt I needed a break from Claire and Jamie, and began reading Bill Bryson’s One Summer, America 1927, which I am finding rather interesting, with all it’s politics, adventure, notable people of the time, what was making headlines & other various events of the time.   Not being American, although I knew who Charles Lindbergh was, for example, the most I knew about him was his baby was kidnapped for ransom, not that his initial claim to fame was for flying solo across the Atlantic. The Prohibition story is interesting as well, of course it’s something I knew about, but not in great historical detail, which Mr Bryson does well to explain and even though I barely know a thing about baseball, being a cricket fan myself, I did know who Babe Ruth was but knew very little about him personally.   Mr Bryson brings him back to life in the book and I have been absorbed in all these stories.  I am nearly half way through the book, so will see what the rest of the summer of 1927 in America holds.

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