Thursday, January 31, 2019

Good reads for January

I was at a random shop earlier in the month, one of those ones that sells imported stuff really cheap and I came across the remainder bin. I think that's what its called, where there are dozens of brand new paperbacks at insanely cheap prices. 
I dithered on what two to get (two for $6 NZ money) and settled on a Debbie Macomber, I do like reading a Macomber, and a regency. I've rarely read regency novels but it had a pretty cover (clothed people on it, fyi) and it looked like it might be fun.
Well, fun it was.
It was The Groom Says Yes by Cathy Maxwell and it was a wonderful book, a can't-put-down book.
I then got home and ordered another one in the series, The Brides of Wishmore, from the library and again, loved it.
I think I might be becoming a regency reader.
How can this be?
Well, it was a darned good story, that's how it be.
I also have been re-reading one of my fav authors Abby Gaines, who wrote for  Harlequin SuperRomance back in the day. Funny, lovely, emotional, smart. Highly recommend if you can get hold of some Abby Gaines. Those Merritt Girls is a fun series. Heck, they are all fun. 
Each year I think of doing a challenge on Good Reads and I think I might this year, just to see how many books I can read over the year. I've been a sporadic Goodreads person but I should take advantage of a challenge and get stuck in.  I also think, as I think every year, I'll go wider in my choices. Although to be honest, discovering Jack Reacher is wide for me, and within romance, Regency is pretty out there.
Lolz, right? We'll see!

Sunday, January 27, 2019

She's a crazy world

It's always great when some of the fam are in town for a visit, and what do you do, why, you go shopping, especially when one is an admitted shopaholic!  Personally, I am not a fan of the mall excursion, (I'm not the shopaholic, truly) but you combine it with the right people, a movie, and it's all good.
We ventured straight to the sale racks at H&M, a new addition to local retail, then headed to the theatre complex to see the film "Ladies in Black," a gorgeous Australian movie set in 1959. Highly recommend it.
Before we saw the movie though, we encountered a stand selling Ben and Jerry's Ice cream. I had never seen one of these before. It was doing quite a good trade, too,
Thus it was that a zillion calories later, we exited the theatre, quite happy about the marvellous film, and went home where we might even have indulged in more ice-cream. I will have to fast for a week month to make up for it at my age.
The Ben and Jerry's outlets are popping up everywhere. 
A darling little town in the South Waikato
 I was Tiki Touring through this fine land a few weeks back and in Taupo we stopped off at a petrol station and went in to pay for the gas, and have a break after so many hours on the road, and I nearly had heart failure when I spotted an ice-cream fridge selling Ben and Jerry's.  I couldn't believe it. We NZers are now heading towards even more obesity if we don't resist.It's like the Krispy Kreme donuts, another recent arrival to food retail here. At the airport recently (please note that there has been no international travel in all this gadding about, none at all, and none planned beyond the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand) and people were getting on the plane with boxes of donuts. What the heck? Where had they gotten these? Well, upon my return to same airport, as I went from one end of the terminal to the other in search of a not-too-overpriced diet coke, I happened upon the donut stand selling them, and observed queues, and more people wandering around the airport loaded up with boxes of donuts. I couldn't believe it.
Move ahead a wee bit to the petrol station where I encountered the ice cream and unbelievable but they had a Krispy Kreme donut thing as well. I couldn't believe it. Clearly, I am in a state of perpetual disbelief at life these days.
Anyway.
Yes.
I bought one.
I spent some time deciding which donut to have from the selection. I can't remember which one it was as it wasn't all that spectacular.
It was also excrutiating parting with the money when I could get a bigger donut (that is, the donut I think of as the traditional Kiwi donut with jam and cream) up the road at the local bakery for way less. (The local bakery was four hours drive away).
Now, the donut was nice enough, but it was pretty much gone in sixty seconds. The bakery one would have lasted a bit longer and been a bit cheaper. But more importantly, I resisted the ice-cream.
Got a trim milk latte to accompany the donut and we were on our way.
She's a crazy world, I'm telling ya. A crazy, crazy world.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Jack Reacher and that Vile Ending

I have become quite the fan of Jack Reacher and Lee Child. Admittedly, it has only taken me twenty years to discover the stories, but discover them, I have.
It happened when I was down country visiting fam last year, and I noticed there were half a dozen Jack Reacher books on a shelf. I think my overseas-based brother had bought them, probably airport-novelling on his way over to New Zealand, and had left them behind.
So I decided to read one to see what the fuss was about. 
I picked one of the Jack Reacher books off the shelf, and I read it and I really liked it. Since then I've read a half a dozen or so more, (Thanks, bro).
The latest to pass in front of my eyes, ie on the shelf, was "Make Me."
It was the weekend of New Year, and I started reading. I was well in to it and about ready to send a marriage proposal to the married author, when I hit the last few chapters of the book.
I need to pause a moment here and take a deep breath, because the ending of Make Me was the most disturbing thing ever.
I was all like, I don't believe I just read that Vile Ending, and I had to go and read it again to make sure, and, well, that was just the dumbest move ever. 
Who revisits a nightmare scenario to make sure they saw what they saw? Who?
Thus it was that I decided, pretty much as soon as the book was back in its place alongside the others, that it was over.
I was done.
No marriage proposal.
I was never going to read another Jack Reacher ever again.
Thank you for nothing, Lee Child. Thanks a bloody lot.
That Vile Ending...  oh my golly gosh...  was the stuff of those hideous nightmares you wake up in the middle of, entirely freaked out, scrambling to get some light on in the room, and you can't un-see it or forget it. Maybe some people are just 'get over it, Jo', but no. It was sick. Real sick.
I vowed to knit a scarf next time I visited.
Then, about one week later, I kid you not, one week later I happened across a book in the library, "Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the making of Make Me" by Andy Martin.
Intrigued, I got the book out.
It is indeed, as the front cover says, "an up close and personal look into the world and ways of an expert storyteller's creative process as he undertakes the writing of the much anticipated twentieth Jack Reacher novel, Make Me."
To be fair, if it had been "Lee Child and the making of Any Other Jack Reacher,"  I may not have picked it up just then. I may have waited a spell, and thus not had to put down everything else I was reading to finish it.
But this wasn't just any old Jack Reacher.
It was the brutal Make Me, the book that had put an end to my short love affair with both writer and protagonist.
I had to know how he came up with the Vile Ending.
I was in fact desperate to find out how the hell this warped, hideous (and really quite brilliant) idea came to be.
So I was off and away and I was reading, and I was hooked.
When I finished, I read it again to absorb more of it. 
There were indeed several things I learnt about the writing of Make Me, and the Vile Ending.
Lee Child does not know where a book is going when he starts out. It is not plotted, there are no notes, he really has no idea at all. He just makes it up as he goes along. Thus when he wrote Make Me, he did not write it with the Vile Ending bit at the end in mind, because the Vile Ending only came to him when he had nearly finished the book. 
He doesn't re-write. He goes back if something troubles him, and fixes things up the next day kind of thing, and he doesn't rewrite. That's it. 
He smokes a lots of cigarettes and a bit of dope. 
I was talking to a colleague the other week, who had also read the  Andy Martin book, and I said to him, that reading about Lee's constant lighting up and inhaling made me want to sit at the laptop with a fag, like in days of old, and ponder my stories, like Lee does.
My workmate said, Forget it, Jo.
I was touched. He was concerned for the state of my lungs. What a guy,
He soon corrected that.
Forget that dream, he said, because the price of smokes is crazy, now they've had a New Year price hike.
(It is true: the price for a packet of cigarettes did indeed rise on Jan 1st.)
What else in the book? Well, there's the story of how Lee Child lost his job and decided to write the book, finished it and sold it. Nothing new in that. We've all done that, ie. decided to write a book and make a few quid. Most of us don't actually sell the thing, though.
There is much one could discuss, but those are the main points I am thinking about.  I recommend the book if you're a Reacher Fan or even if you're not, and just want some insight into Lee Child's writing process.
Significantly, I have now taken back my decision to never read another Jack Reacher ever again, as long as I live, although I am approaching them with some caution now after the Vile Ending incident. I've put a request in at the library for the very first one, Killing Floor, so I can start at the beginning of the series. There are several people ahead of me on the list so I guess a lot of readers are doing the same thing.  I may even buy copies and build up a Reacher collection and be a legit fan.
I will also watch the Tom Cruise movie one day (I love Tom), probably sooner rather than later, as I suspect there is a chance I, too, will become one of those angry people who rant about the gross betrayal that was Cruise playing Reacher. But at the moment, cos I do love Tom, I am okay with that. 
If you haven't read a Reacher, give it a go and see what you think. And to be fair, the Vile Ending of Make Me is really quite brilliant. But if you're anything like me, it just pays not to think too much about it once you've turned the last page. 
~ Joanne

Debbie Macomber and a nod to LaVyrle

A recent read, back in the old romance vein, that I adored was Cottage by the Sea , by Debbie Macomber. Macomber has moved more into wom...