Saturday, February 24, 2018 - March 2, 2018
‘Force of Nature’ is compelling novel by Jane Harper
Oline H. Cogdill
A team-building expedition into
Australia’s bush land quickly evolves into a taut plot about survival —
both in business and in personal life — as well as corporate intrigue,
jealousy and family issues in Jane Harper’s compelling novel “Force of
Executives and assistants of
Melbourne accounting firm BaileyTennants go on a three-night retreat to
the rugged Giralang Ranges. The men’s team returns ahead of schedule,
but a search party has to be dispatched when the women’s team is six
hours late. When the women do return, each one is injured. And one
woman, Alice Russell, is missing.
Federal agents Aaron Falk and
Carmen Cooper are sent to investigate Alice’s disappearance and assist
the search team. Aaron and Carmen have a stake in finding Alice. She’s
key in uncovering an elaborate money-laundering scheme that began with
the founder of the firm and has been continued by his children, brother
and sister Daniel and Jill Bailey who are now BaileyTennants executives
and are on the retreat.
The agents soon learn that Alice
wasn’t just an inside source for them, she was one of the firm’s most
disliked members. Alice was cruel and insensitive to others, from the
assistant she bullied to a long-time acquaintance who was more enemy
than friend. Lost in the bush land with food and water dwindling, every
personal and professional slight is magnified. Adding to the tension,
this part of the wild was once the killing ground for a serial murderer
whose son is rumored to share his father’s proclivities.
Harper continues the intense
plotting and detail for characters and setting that she established in
“The Dry,” which introduced Aaron. While “Force of Nature” depends
heavily on police procedures, Harper keeps the focus more on her
characters’ motivations, skillfully alternating between the search and
what happened on each day of the retreat. (AP)
February 17, 2018 - February 23, 2018
Bang Saray Boys: The Movie
Well the fifth
and final book in the series about the Bang Saray Boys has been
published and I for one am going to miss this eccentric ‘band of
speak for themselves and this series about ex-pats has become the ‘must
have’ books collection about life in Thailand. You could be forgiven
for thinking that the books are about a group of old ex-pats who like
playing dominoes and putting the world to rights, but they are about so
much more than that!
They are about a
group of friends and the trials and tribulations of life and growing old
in an ever-changing world. It’s about their shifting perceptions of
this world and also themselves as they cope with love and romance,
friendships, old age and death as they set out on a series of
self-appointed leader is Gary Sloan, or ‘Sloany’ as everybody knows him:
a bar owner and now a resort owner, who sees himself and the rest of the
world in a different light to everyone else.
jump right out of the pages at you and once they grab you they won’t let
go. The books are laugh out loud funny in parts but be warned, they
will also make you cry as you share the characters’ stories.
I managed to
contact the author Guy Lilburne and I was surprised to learn that this
series of five publications was originally intended to be only a one-off
book. It all started with the release of “Living the Dream”, but the
response to that book was so overwhelming that a follow-up “Loving Life”
A worldwide army
of fans ensured that more books were to follow and “Taff’s Treasure”,
“Another Day in Paradise” and “Bang Saray Boys: The Movie” completed the
set, with even more memorable characters joining the original Sloan
Square bar boys.
It’s sad that
Guy Lilburne has decided not to write any more about these lovable
rogues, but the good news is that he is currently working on a
screenplay of the series for British TV, so hopefully a wider audience
of fans can join the ranks of readers all over the world who have
already fallen in love with the gang.
Lilburne’s books are available on Amazon and the Bang Saray boys have
their own fan page on Facebook. Do yourself a favour and take a look at
these books. You won’t be sorry.
Update February 10, 2018 - February 16, 2018
‘Mothers of Sparta’ looks
at significant moments in life
Tracee M. Herbaugh
What’s in a life?
and superstars, or Nobel Laureates and the like, the people who live in
the realms of the extraordinary and exciting. On the contrary: What are
the significant moments that make up the story of a regular person?
“Mothers of Sparta:
a Memoir in Pieces” by Dawn Davies answers this question, and eloquently
so. Each chapter reads like a stand-alone essay. You can read them one
at a time, but, as a whole, they make sense.
“Mothers of Sparta”
opens with Davies detailing her struggle with anxiety.
Davies dropped out
of college at 19 and moved from her home state of Florida to Boston,
where she worked various jobs and attempted to launch a business selling
cheesecakes on sticks.
During this foray,
her boyfriend died in a tragic accident while visiting his home country
of Brazil. She is then left alone to grieve in Boston.
Yet, not soon after
the accident, Davies has her second run in with death as she watches a
student killed by an impaired driver on a busy thoroughfare while on a
date in neighboring Cambridge. Davies held the dying girl’s hand and
sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
Still, “Mothers of
Sparta” isn’t just a grim recounting of all the suffering that Davies
has experienced. There are laugh-out-loud funny moments — such as the
time she rescued a dog with her second husband and young children. Or
the story about trying to save money on her 19-year-old daughter’s
wedding by ordering a designer dress from China. The dress was a dud,
but the daughter called off the marriage anyway, choosing to keep
pursuing her education at a top- tier school.
Some of the most
compelling writing is on the subject of parenting. Davies’ ruminations
about being a mom are all over the place — happy and sad, funny and
serious — but they’re sure to resonate with readers who have kids.
“Children can hold
hope for a long time without it burning their hand, far longer than
adults can, which is what allows them to complete the act of growing up
in a world full of people who lie, where people let you down all the
time,” Davies writes.
“Mothers of Sparta”
offers exquisite writing and storytelling craft. Davies, it seems, can
bring to life just about anything with her writing. (AP)
Update Saturday, February 3, 2018 - February 9, 2018
‘When’ by Daniel Pink uncovers the secrets of timing
“When: The Scientific
Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel H. Pink perfectly executes the
tried-and-true formula for social science books. Start with a compelling
anecdote, tease it apart with some science and suggest ideas on how applying
the underlying principle can better your life. It fits right in next to
“The Power of Habit.”
Pink sets out to
“unearth the hidden science of timing” — to uncover it as a significant if
unrecognized player in our lives — and he largely succeeds. He highlights a
study of Danish schoolchildren that found that those who took their yearly
standardized test in the morning performed better than those who took it in
the afternoon. The p.m. slump is real, which is why Pink advises against
scheduling a doctor’s appointment later in the day. According to a study,
doctors found an average of more than 1.1 polyps during colonoscopies
performed at 11 a.m. By 2 p.m., it dropped to barely half that number, even
though the patients were no different.
What helps mitigate the
slide, Pink explains, are breaks. Judges rule in favor of prisoners about
65 percent of the time early in the day, but by late morning, that rate
drops to nearly zero, regardless of the facts of the case, researchers have
found. Immediately after the judges take a break, they become more
forgiving again, Pink writes, “only to sink into a more hard-line attitude
after a few hours.”
Earlier isn’t always
better, however. Teenagers’ changing circadian rhythm means they become
night owls, making early school start times particularly challenging. Pink
ticks off the consequences of teens not getting enough sleep: they’re at
higher risk for depression, suicide, substance abuse and car crashes. Being
sleep deprived is also correlated with obesity and a weakened immune
system. “The evidence of harm is so massive,” Pink writes, that the
American Academy of Pediatrics has called for middle and high schools to
begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m., and the CDC has also pushed for delaying
start times. Schools that have followed this recommendation have noted
higher grades, better attendance and increased graduation rates.
The breadth of the
book’s scope is impressive. It explains why people whose age ends in 9 are
overrepresented in first-time marathoners and why singing in a group boosts
endorphins and immunity. Pink makes a point to end each chapter with
takeaway points that readers can apply to their own lives.
“When” is engaging,
conversational and tightly edited, making it an easy yet important read.