Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4) by Dick Francis

 

Read by Martin Jarvis and I like him!

Cheltenham is a lovely racecourse.

Description: It’s the third death on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day that really troubles super-sleuth Sid Halley. Last seen in 1995’s Come to Grief, former champion jockey Halley knows the perils of racing all too well-but in his day, jockeys didn’t usually reach the finishing line with three .38 rounds in the chest. But this is precisely how he finds jockey Huw Walker-who, only a few hours earlier, had won the coveted Triumph Hurdle.

Just moments before the gruesome discovery, Halley had been called upon by Lord Enstone to make discreet inquiries into why his horses appeared to be on a permanent losing streak. Are races being fixed? Are bookies taking a cut? And if so, are trainers and jockeys playing a dangerous game with stakes far higher than they are realistic?

Halley’s quest for answers draws him even deeper into the darker side of the race game, in a life-or-death power play that will push him to his very limits-both professionally and personally.

Opening: “Sadly, death at the races is not uncommon. However, three in a single afternoon was sufficiently unusual to raise more than an eyebrow. That only one of the deaths was of a horse was more than enough to bring the local constabulary hotfoot to the track.”

How lovely to find this dustying up in the storage boxes and I dive in with relish as it has been ages since an encounter with the wonderful Dick Francis.

4* Odds Against (Sid Halley, #1)
3* Whip Hand (Sid Halley, #2)
3* Come to Grief (Sid Halley, #3)
3.5* Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4)

4* Bolt (Kit Fielding, #2)

3* Proof
4* Dead Cert
4* Blood Sport
2* Shattered
3* Nerve
4* Decider
3* Straight
3* For Kicks
4* Bonecrack
3* Enquiry
3* Field of Thirteen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

Leopard VI: The Norwegian Feeling for Real by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck, Jan Kjarstad

Leopard VI by Harald Bache-Wiig
 

 

Who doesn’t like the cover (excluding Scott from Utah of course); an extra star right there!

1. On An Old Farmstead in Europe by Hans Herbjörnsrud, translated by Liv Irene Myhre. A recounting of one of Norway’s oldest myths ‘Blind Margjit and the Man with the Eyes’.

2. The Dogs in Thessaloniki by Kjell Askildsen, translated by Agnes Scott Langeland. Pug-Ugly domestic scenario.

3. Ice by Roy Jacobsen, translated by Kenneth Steven. Had to read this one eyes through splayed fingers. Excellent suspense.

4. The Cock and Mr. Gopher by Jonny Halberg, translated by Don Bartlett. Culinary addiction.

5. I Could Not Tell You by Jon Fosse, translated by May-Britt Akerholdt. blergh – s.o.c. affected shite.

6. Cows by Lars Amund Vaage, translated by Nadia Christensen. Well that was a dairy farmer’s wet dream but no more entries like that, I hope.

7. The Last Beat Poets in Mid-Hordland by Ragnar Hovland, translated by James Anderson. Lovely story.

8. The Jealous Barber by Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Kenneth Steven. A psychological thriller that was noirly amusing in its absurdity.

Just when I am mentally composing the end rant about the lack of female writers here, next up is a goodie:

9. The Pillar by Karin Fossum translated by Robert Ferguson. Bullying father reveals his fecklessness.

10. The Catalogue by Jostein Gaarder and translated by James Anderson. Superb piece of nihilism surrounding an every leap-year global publication.

11. A Good Heart by Karin Sveen and translated by Katherine Hanson. Crofting community and the question of hand-me-downs ♥♥♥

12. The Motif Herbjørg Wassmo and translated by Donna H Stockton. Not so much!

13. Dublin in the Rain by Frode Grytten and translated by Peter Cripps.

14. I’m Asleep by Tor Ulven and translated by Sverre Lyngstad. Lots of individual ideas to ponder upon here, however, does that make a good story?, I don’t think so.

This is the most ‘quotable snippets’ entry but I cannot recommend it as a whole.

15. Love by Hanne ørstavik and translated by James Anderson

A path runs into the forest, from a secret, forgotten place.
If you can only find it, your body will follow its trace.
Past trees and flowers and anthills and up to a castle so rare,
In the castle sit three damsels, fabulous, fine and fair.
For the prince they sit there waiting, naybe he’ll come one day,
They’re singing a song in the meantime, a lilting, lugubrious lay.

16. The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973 by Tor Åge Bringsværd and translated by Oddrun Grønvik.

17. A Forgotten Petunia by Bjørg Vik and translated by Don Bartlett.

18. Deep Need – Instant Nausea by Trude Marstein and translated by Don Bartlett.

19. The Story of the Short Story by Kjartan Fløgstad and translated by Sverre Lyngstad.

20. Life of a Trapper by Gro Dahle and translated by Katherine Hanson.

21. It’s So Damned Quiet Øystein Lønn, trans by Steven T. Murray.

22. Veranda With Sun Laila Stein, Katherine Hanson

22. Homecoming Jan Kjæstad, Sverre Lyngstad

23. The Long Trip by Beate Grimsrud, translated by Angela Shury-Smith

————————————-

Edited by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck and Jan Kjærstad.

Introduction by Harald Bache-Wiig.
—————————————-

Now a good thing about anthologies is that you can get a taster, a little peek at an unknown writer. Having enjoyed #3 I have ordered a book by Roy Jacobsen about the northern war.

Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954

bookshelves: published-2005, under-500-ratings, radio-4x, summer-2014, biography, art-forms, nonfiction

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 13 to 20, 2014


R4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0076r2v

Description: “If my story were ever to be written down truthfully from start to finish, it would amaze everyone,” wrote Henri Matisse. It is hard to believe today that Matisse, whose exhibitions draw huge crowds worldwide, was once almost universally reviled and ridiculed. His response was neither to protest nor to retreat; he simply pushed on from one innovation to the next, and left the world to draw its own conclusions. Unfortunately, these were generally false and often damaging. Throughout his life and afterward people fantasized about his models and circulated baseless fabrications about his private life.

Fifty years after his death, Matisse the Master (the second half of the biography that began with the acclaimed The Unknown Matisse) shows us the painter as he saw himself. With unprecedented and unrestricted access to his voluminous family correspondence, and other new material in private archives, Hilary Spurling documents a lifetime of desperation and self-doubt exacerbated by Matisse’s attempts to counteract the violence and disruption of the twentieth century in paintings that now seem effortlessly serene, radiant, and stable.
Here for the first time is the truth about Matisse’s models, especially two Russians: his pupil Olga Meerson and the extraordinary Lydia Delectorskaya, who became his studio manager, secretary, and companion in the last two decades of his life.
But every woman who played an important part in Matisse’s life was remarkable in her own right, not least his beloved daughter Marguerite, whose honesty and courage surmounted all ordeals, including interrogation and torture by the Gestapo in the Second World War.

If you have ever wondered how anyone with such a tame public image as Matisse could have painted such rich, powerful, mysteriously moving pictures, let alone produced the radical cut-paper and stained-glass inventions of his last years, here is the answer. They were made by the real Matisse, whose true story has been written down at last from start to finish by his first biographer, Hilary Spurling.

Episode 1: 1909, and Henri Matisse’s critics call his paintings monstrous. Can he find support? Eleanor Bron reads.

Episode 2: 1914, and with his family scattered across France, Matisse expresses the horror and uncertainty of the First World War in his art.

Episode 3: 1930, and Henri Matisse’s painting is dramatically influenced by his visits to New York and Tahiti.

Episode 4: 1938, and now in his 60s, Henri Matisse’s art must endure personal upheaval as war looms.

Episode 5: Post-1945, Matisse applies his extraordinary scissor and paper technique to the design of the interior of the chapel at Vence.

4* Matisse the Master: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954
4* Pearl Buck in China

Forever Odd by Dean Koontz Forever Odd (Odd Thomas, #2) by Dean Koontz

bookshelves: published-2005, tbr-busting-2014, spring-2014, series, north-americas, boo-scary, ghosties-ghoulies, fantasy

Read from May 09 to 10, 2014


8 hrs 32 mins

Description: We’re all a little odd beneath the surface. He’s the most unlikely hero you’ll ever meet—an ordinary guy with a modest job you might never look at twice. But there’s so much more to any of us than meets the eye—and that goes triple for Odd Thomas. For Odd lives always between two worlds in the small desert town of Pico Mundo, where the heroic and the harrowing are everyday events. Odd never asked to communicate with the dead—it’s something that just happened. But as the unofficial goodwill ambassador between our world and theirs, he’s got a duty to do the right thing. That’s the way Odd sees it and that’s why he’s won hearts on both sides of the divide between life and death.

A childhood friend of Odd’s has disappeared. The worst is feared. But as Odd applies his unique talents to the task of finding the missing person, he discovers something worse than a dead body, encounters an enemy of exceptional cunning, and spirals into a vortex of terror. Once again Odd will stand against our worst fears. Around him will gather new allies and old, some living and some not. For in the battle to come, there can be no innocent bystanders, and every sacrifice can tip the balance between despair and hope. Whether you’re meeting Odd Thomas for the first time or he’s already an old friend, you’ll be led on an unforgettable journey through a world of terror, wonder and delight—to a revelation that can change your life. And you can have no better guide than Odd Thomas.

Having just dumped an early entry (Dragon’s Tears) it is with a sigh of relief to realise that I still love Koontz as a writer because he has adapted to changing times. Us readers have had to do the self same thing.

Jesse Garon Presley, his identical twin brother, was delivered stillborn 35 minutes before him. As an only child, Presley became close to both parents and formed an unusually close bond with his mother. The family attended an Assembly of God church, where he found his initial musical inspiration.

Datura id beautiful but poisonous

3.5* Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1) (2003)
3.5* Forever Odd (Odd Thomas, #2) (2005)
TR Brother Odd (Odd Thomas, #3) (2006)

2* Phantoms (1976)
3* Icebound (1976)
TR The Vision (1977)
3* Whispers (1980)
TR Darkfall (1984)
3* Strangers (1986)
2* Intensity (1987)
1* Dragon Tears (1988) ABANDONED
3* Mr. Murder (1993)
3* Winter Moon (1993)
3* Tick Tock (1996)
2* By the Light of the Moon (2002)
2* The Face (2003)
4* The Good Guy (2006)
1* The Taking (2007)
3* Black River (2007)
2* The Darkest Evening of the Year (2007)
TR 77 Shadow Street (2011)

2* Fear Nothing (Moonlight Bay, #1) (1968)
1* Seize the Night (Moonlight Bay, #2) (1988)

England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton by Kate Williams

bookshelves: spring-2014, biography, published-2005, nonfiction, history, prostitution, lifestyles-deathstyles, london, radio-4x

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 02 to 09, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lvb07

Description: She was the most famous woman in England–the beautiful model for society painters Joshua Reynolds and George Romney, an icon of fashion, the wife of an ambassador, and the mistress of naval hero Horatio Nelson. But Emma Hamilton had been born to the poverty of a coal-mining town and spent her teenage years working as a prostitute. From the brothels of London to the glittering court of Naples and the pretentious country estate of the most powerful admiral in England, British debut historian Kate Williams captures the life of Emma Hamilton with all its glamour and heartbreak.

In lucid, engaging prose, Williams brings to life a complex and intelligent woman. Emma is sensuous, generous, artistic, at once shamelessly seductive and recklessly ambitious. Willing to do anything for love and fame, she sets out to make herself a star–and she succeeds beyond even her wildest dreams. By the age of twenty-six, she leaves behind the precarious life of a courtesan to become Lady Hamilton, wife of Sir William Hamilton–the aging, besotted, and probably impotent British ambassador to the court of Naples.
But everything changes when Lord Nelson steams into Naples harbor fresh from his triumph at the Battle of the Nile and literally falls into Emma’s adoring arms. Their all-consuming romance–conducted amid the bloody tumult of the Napoleonic Wars–makes Emma an international celebrity, especially when she returns to England pregnant with Nelson’s baby.

Read by Polly Walker.

Episode 1: Birth in the Wirral, where mum worked in the mine.

Episode 2: Emma’s inexorable rise brings with it a personal transformation and the emergence of genuine talent.

Episode 3: Horatio Nelson’s attention works wonders for Emma’s social standing. But what of her husband Sir William?

Episode 4: Back in England, Emma gives birth. Desperate to be with her, Nelson searches for a perfect country house.

Episode 5: Nelson and Emma are briefly reunited, but he must face the French fleet off the Cape of Trafalgar.

I had three biographies on the go at the same time and this paled into insignificance, style-wise, against the wonderful professional writing of Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and Eleanor Marx: A Life