Book: Lee Child “Personal” (Jack Reacher 19)

June 2, 2015

Having read every Jack Reahcer book, and all the short stories I can find, it is fair to say I like this character.  I enjoy Child’s writing style (usually) and his stories are well crafted and full of pace, racing along with twists at the end of each chapter that draw you into reading the first few sentences of the next till you just can’t stop.

However this book was more disappointing.  Not all Reacher novels are great, there have been some hickups along the way, but event poor Jack Reacher books are still good stories in them selves – just not up to Lee Child’s high standards.  This time it isn’t even a very good story.

bookReacher is tracked down – in an odd way in my opinion – by a general who needs him for a job only he can do … yada yada.. there’s a female officer he has to work with (who is really only there so he can explain the plot to her) .. he has to travel to Paris (which was a good part since Jack Reacher’s has a past in Paris – his resistance fighting mother) then to London on a wild goose chase after a sniper who yada yada might be the best -snooze- sniper in the world and has a grudge against —-….  oh man this was a slow, meandering and pointless plot.  By the time the book finally got to the plot twist at the end I couldn’t have cared less.

In part the book was building to a Boss level fight between Jack and his target, but it felt like Child had also lost interest as the final meeting of the two ends fairly simply.  I will read the next and the next and the next but I do hope they get back to form.


Book: Michael Connelly “The Black Ice”

June 1, 2015

Connelly’s second novel follows on from “The Black Echo” which I also read and wrote about recently. Picking up 18 months after the close of the previous novel this opens on Christmas Day with Harry Bosch monitoring the police scanner to know what is going on.  He hears a message about a homicide since he is on duty, thinks he should bookalready have been notified about this.  It turns out to be an apparent suicide of a fellow cop working out of the Hollywood Division’s narcotics unit. Although Bosch didn’t know him well it gets his interest and even though he is warned off the case it turns out some of his other cases seem to be tied to this.

What follows is a fast (this book takes place between Christmas Day and New Years) series of linked cases taking Harry across the border into Mexico to take down a drugs lord with the help if the DEA, local police and some Bulls.  Another excellent police procedural novel with the usual cliches of working against the rules.


The Garden

May 29, 2015

Since moving in Dec 2011 we hadn’t done much with our garden other than putting up a new fence when the existing one fell down, cutting the grass, etc. The main problems the garden had was poor drainage close to the house where the ‘grass’ is often waterlogged, steps and slabs that became an issue with a toddler around

Our priorities for a garden space is

  • Child safe & fun, so robust planting that will survive a child and educational
  • Functional (clothes lines, seating, bbq, play, storage)
  • Food! veg & herbs
  • Compost area
  • hardy and seasonal plants, scented planting, nothing with thorns and if possible insect friendly

March 2015 The Design I came up with…garden-the-planLevel step out from house onto decking area – pots and containers on deck for herbs – an ‘open pergola’ structure to give height and something to hang a swing, lights, planting, etc. – storage benches made from decking material to tie in – storage shed – raised beds for veg -two flower beds, one in sun an one shaded – keep the existing paved area retained for BBQ or play area.

 

su-garden01

su-garden02

It took several quotes and chasing builders to find someone who could do it then in two weeks this happened…


Before & After Photos..

01before
01after

02before
02after

03before
03after

2015-04-26 17.37.32

2015-05-04 18.23.21

2015-05-09 15.10.25

 

Now I just need to grow stuff :-)

 


Food: The Rum Shack

May 27, 2015

I used to blog about food a fair bit, but got out of the habit, tonight is worth sharing…

The Rum Shack on Pollokshaws Road, opened about a year ago and is exactly what you expect from a place called The Rum Shack – lots of Rums (their facebook site claims 50, I didn’t count), Caribbean food and reggae music.

2015-05-26 20.13.01Being child free for a night meant we were out on a school night – but being parents of a young child meant we were in and out again before the cool people made the place look busy, in order to get to bed at a sensible time :-(

However, there was time for a couple of rums.  The bar staff were knowledgeable and after a few questions and suggestions….  “Yea I’ve tried that”  “Is that like their previous one”  “What’s new from Barbados?” I had an Angostura Cask Collection No.1 and later a Plantation Grande Réserve 5 years.  Both were very nice, but the Angostura was amazingly smooth and I’ve started trying to track down a bottle (limited edition with only 9,600 bottles available worldwide).  But I was supposed to be blogging about food not rum…

The Rum Shack’s menu isn’t extensive but from my limited Caribbean experience (honeymoon in Barbados) it seems authentic enough with Salt Fish, Curry Goat and rice-and-peas of course. We shared a starter of Accra -Salt Fish mixed with herbs and seasoning, shaped into balls and fried till golden. This came with the house hot sauce which nearly melted my lips and I thought I wouldn’t taste anything else all night!  The hot sauce isn’t messing and was way beyond my limit.

After some water and about 10min my mouth had calmed down enough to carry on.

2015-05-26 19.45.05Our main courses were Rum Shack Fish-n-chips which had a jerk style coating, sweet potato chips and lentils and Jerk Chicken, served with rice and peas and corn on the cob.  It was all absolutely delicious, the flavours weren’t overwhelming or too hot, everything was perfect.  Except, in my opinion, the portion size was a little small especially given the prices, e.g. 3 small balls of fish.  It isn’t extortionate but neither is this a cheap choice so you really don’t want to leave still feeling hungry.  That said, I would certainly like to go back and give it another try for both the excellent food and the chance to try different Rums!

 


Book: Michael Connelly “The Black Echo”

May 21, 2015

I watched the ten-episode TV series “Bosch” on Amazon Prime, enjoyed the character so much I started reading this book “The Black Echo” which is the  début novel of Michael Connelly‘s and our introduction to the character Detective Harry Bosch.

bookThis is a ‘police procedural’ genre book set in LAPD’s Hollywood Division that starts with a body turning up of someone Bosch happens to have known in his past.  Initially it looks like an overdose but a few things aren’t right which makes Bosch push the autopsy which shows enough suspicion to turn this into a homicide.  Through many twists, gradual reveals, and good old detective work – with lots of “your off this case” from senior officers and while being investigated by Internal Affairs… Harry Bosch not only solves the case but much more besides.

There is a real depth to the characters and the descriptions of the city that bring this story alive.  Bosch himself has a troubled and well drawn past that brings his character to life – we are left wanting to know more about what brought him to this place and his current state of mind and attitude to the job and authority but these things are only hinted at.

A good read, a great character and I’ve moved straight on to the second book in the series. Great writing.


Book: “Vengeance: Mystery Writers of America Presents”

March 10, 2015

I’ve said it before but since this is a longish post I’ll start it by saying that I don’t know why anyone would be interested in this… this blog for me is mostly to help me remember things like which book I’ve read, film I’ve seen and places I’ve visited.  Occasionally I’ll post an opinion piece but that is very rare.  This post for example is not a review of this collection of short stories, nor is it a review of any or all of the stories in the collection.  It is a reminder to myself that I read this and that I might be interested in reading more by some of the authors if I ever get the time to do so.

bookThis collection of short stories has Lee Child’s name on the cover and a forward by him about how the collection was drawn together.  There is also one ‘new story from Lee Child’ but really it isn’t his best so that is no reason to go for this book.

However, if you are looking for 21 short stories that need little investment in time or energy this might be a good read.  Indeed, I read most of these during a 20min commute with very little effort.  Overall I wasn’t blown away by the standard.  There were a few that stood out Michael Connelly, Anne Swardson and Darrell James, for example but far too many ‘misses’.

Here is what I thought as I finished each story:

THE FOURTEENTH JUROR BY TWIST PHELAN
Two detectives taking to a judge, the older one seemingly writing out that the judge murdered our victim while hit rookie colleague tries to keep up. But the twists towards the end turn everything around. Well structured writing in what could have been the claustrophobic environment of an interview in judge chambers. (Follow this author)

THE MOTHER BY ALAFAIR BURKE
A lawyer in a child welfare case who is more involved in the case than she should be. After a failed prosecution a girl is to be returned to her father unless she can do something about it. When she can’t…   A disturbing but gripping story with several twists – good read.

LOST AND FOUND BY ZOË SHARP
A peodophile priest ‘s past catches up with him, but as he lies dying there is one last chance for redemption and forgiveness.

BLIND JUSTICE BY JIM FUSILLI
Story of two New York Italian gangsters that was so full of New York Italian gangster slang and jargon that I couldn’t follow the plot and gave up. Rubbish!

THE CONSUMERS BY DENNIS LEHANE
Great short story with intriguing ending based around an abused woman hiring a someone to kill her husband. (Follow this author)

MOONSHINER’S LAMENT BY RICK McMAHAN
Wow, very well paced starting slow but quickly building. I felt drawn in to the characters and surprised by the ending very well put together ‘tight’ writing style made this a great short story. (Follow this author)

RIVER SECRET BY ANNE SWARDSON
Another good read, a sad tale of a busker in Paris going about his business watching the people who watch him. He builds an unspoken relationship with a little girl… (Follow this author)

HOT SUGAR BLUES BY STEVE LISKOW
OK story a sort of internal monologue mostly, didn’t really grab me and I spotted the ending too quickly. To be fair I was distracted so didn’t get to read this in one go.

THE FINAL BALLOT BY BRENDAN DuBOIS
Really enjoyed this story of a political fixer with eyes on the Whitehouse making a problem go away, or does he?
(Follow this author)

AFRICA ALWAYS NEEDS GUNS BY MICHAEL NIEMANN
A powerless UN Investigator looking for arms in a corrupt system… Finds justice. Well put together little story.

THE UNREMARKABLE HEART BY KARIN SLAUGHTER
After the first few pages about a woman dying of cancer I decided not to read this one. Not for me.

IT AIN’T RIGHT BY MICHELLE GAGNON
Too short, nothing happens.

SILENT JUSTICE BY C. E. LAWRENCE
A well crafted central character is at the heart of this story. A priest who hears a confession he can’t deal with. It didn’t feel original but not cleched, a good read.

EVEN A BLIND MAN BY DARRELL JAMES
Short story of a blind black man in the south. After receiving let’s from a granddaughter he didn’t know he had then one just asking for ‘help’ an old man makes his way to a seedy southern city. Well told story, good read.

THE GENERAL BY JANICE LAW
Ok, but a buy laboured and predictable.

A FINE MIST OF BLOOD BY MICHAEL CONNELLY
Great short story with a character I am slightly failure with. Good to read in the right format.
(Follow this author)

LEVERAGE BY MIKE COOPER
In stead of “who done it” this is a “will he do it” as a man layer of by the company with his pension ‘stolen’ goes after the boss to ask him some questions.

THE HOTLINE BY DREDA SAY MITCHELL
clever little revenge story, based in London for a change – most of these are very US focused. Good read. (follow this author)

BLOOD AND SUNSHINE BY ADAM MEYER
About an ‘evil’ five year old.. at that point I stopped reading because I believe in the innocence of youth.

IN PERSONA CHRISTI BY OREST STELMACH
Well told story of a priest in a bad neighbourhood protecting his flock.

THE HOLLYWOOD I REMEMBER BY LEE CHILD
OK, but too short.


Books: Richard Grady “One Day Ahead: A Tour de France Misadventure”

February 26, 2015

This is a story (almost) about the 2012 Tour de France and (almost) about a pleasant trip around France.  But it is more about a slightly grumpy man having a terrible time in a motorhome.

bookRichard is asked to drive support for his friend taking on the route of one of the toughest cycle races in the world.  The plan is to ride each stage of the tour one day ahead of the race coming.  The roads are still open but the route markings are in place and each town is getting ready for the circus.

This plan soon grows to four cyclists with two motorhomes in support driving them to the start of each days ride, meeting the riders for food stops and getting camp ready for them at night.  A full time job – which the girlfriends in motorhome 2 aren’t  fully aware of.  The tension between the motorhomes, keeping everything on schedule and completing the daily millage keeps the book moving and entertaining.

There are enough background and history of the Tour to add interest without becoming a text book.  Each day also has a recap of what is happening in the real race just one day behind our group.  A nice little book, very easy to dip into and with lots of humour.


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