Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review: Journey to Munich

(Maisie Dobbs #12)

Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear (2016)
****

A Journey to Munich (2016) is the 12th novel in Jacqueline Winspear’s series about private investigator Maisie Dobbs. The story in this novel is set in 1938, just before WWII. My review(s) of some of the previous book(s) in Jacqueline Winspear’s series about private investigator Maisie Dobbs can be found here. My opinion about the series has varied a bit from one book to another. Along the way, I have sometimes felt that the background story took over too much, and went off in directions that caused problems for the author as well for the reader. However, with this book, I felt that both Maise and the author seemed to be kind of “back on track” again. While we are still getting filled in on background details in Maisie’s life, the focus in this book is on her current mission, involving a journey to Nazi Germany as an agent for the British Secret Service, under assumed identity as the daughter of a British subject held prisoner in the concentration camp at Dachau near Munich. The German government has agreed to release the prisoner, but only if he is handed over to a family member. His real daughter is dead, though. But the Germans don’t know that… So the question is, can Maisie do a good enough job of pretending to be her? I found the story interesting and well told. For me perhaps also a bit extra interesting as I once visted the memorial site and museum at Dachau myself (on a tourist journey back in 1990).
(I read the book on Kindle in September 2017.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Book Review: Cash Cow

Cash Cow by Nina McGrath **

A free Kindle book that I read back in August.

If  not for Australian place names mentioned, I would have taken for granted it was American, as (to me) it has a definite ring of “Hollywood housewives”. The main character, however, is a young woman struggling to keep ends meet, and desperate to get a job to keep an aggressive debt collector at bay. She is offered a job working as a nanny for a wealthy Sydney couple, the Kings. She soon finds out that she is not the only nanny, but one of three, paid to look after … I think it was four kids. Always at least one nanny on duty, around the clock. Simone does get rather attached to the children along the way; but her employers, the parents, turn out to be a real handful - and the working conditions highly questionable. It’s also a mystery how exactly the Kings are able to keep up the affluent lifestyle that they do.

All in all a “light read”; and the outcome kind of predictable, even if some twists and turns along the way contribute to making one keep on reading. Sometimes I felt nearly as frustrated with Simone and her fellow nannies as with their employers.  But at the same time, I guess the story does reflect some of the traps one may easily fall into when young and inexperienced, and desperate to get one’s first job and earn some cash.

I might recommend it to someone thinking of going abroad to work as “au pair”…

Saturday, November 25, 2017

My Town – Weekend Reflections

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The last Saturday in November here means that it’s time to turn on the Christmas lights in the city. As usual there was to be a ceremony at 4 p.m. including a brass band and a torchlight procession from the town park to the main square; where the Christmas tree has already been up for a few weeks, but without the lights turned on. It was a grey and dull day, but around 3:15 p.m. still not raining, and not too chilly or windy. So I decided to walk into town to check out this year’s decorations. 

Of course(?), 15 minutes later, when I was well on my way, the sky opened, and rain was pouring down!  However, I decided that there wasn’t much to gain by turning around. I had an umbrella, and the parts of me not covered by that would get wet either way; so I might just as well continue into the city centre and take the bus back home from there. I did not stop to watch or join the procession from the park to the square, though… But I managed to snap a few shots of already lighted decorations on my way to catch the bus. Heavy rain, twilight, and mobile phone camera managed with one hand only (needed the other hand to hold the umbrella!)… So no top quality night shots. But you’ll get an idea of the atmosphere – and some wet street reflections.

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New decorations (the archways) on a bridge over the river; reflected in a very wet pedestrian street.

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This is overlooking the river. Not really easy to tell what’s street vs river in these photos! Winking smile


My Town Shoot Out

Weekend Reflections

Friday, November 24, 2017

Postcards for the Weekend – Books, Reading

170407 CZ-1158648 Book in an Ancient Library

Postcrossing card from the Czech Replublic, April 2017
CZ-1158648 / “Book in an ancient library”

Lesende Frau auf einer Gartenbank liegend, 1913

Postcrossing card from Germany, July 2017
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”Woman lying on a bench reading” (1913)

Painting by Swedish artist Carl Larsson (1853-1919)

170103-170109 from Jarina _0003

From Jarina in the NL, January 2017
Ill. by Fiep Westendorp (1916-2004)


161129-161222 from GB Gladstone's Library

From GB, December 2016
Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales

The Body in the Library
▲Not postcards , but bookish stamps… from England, 2017 ▼

171021-171027 from John 1724B


Postcards for the Weekend

Postcards for the Weekend 62: Books / Reading / Authors

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Our World Tuesday: When I’m Free

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Another mural from the No Limit street art festival in September.
Work in progress above…


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… and then I went back to see the result a few weeks later.


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Artist: Lakwena (from London)
The link goes to an interview I found online, where she talks about her art as a “contemporary expression of worship” and “the importance of words and how much power they have”.


Our World Tuesday

Friday, November 17, 2017

Postcards for the Weekend

170206 CN-2123514 maxicard

CN-2123514 (Maxi card – Watermelon)
Postcrossing card from China, February 2017


Strawberry Fairy

The Strawberry Fairy (by Cicely Mary Barker)
Postcrossing card from Lithuania, October 2017
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Refreshing reminders of summer in the midst of grey and rainy November Winking smile

Weekend Linky Party:

Postcards for the Weekend 61: Food & Beverage

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bird Nests, Art and Witchcraft

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The answer to yesterday’s Guess What? is: A magpie’s nest. Not that I can say for sure whether (for the magpies) it counts as one two-storey building, or two separate nests on top of each other… To me, seen from my window, it also rather resembles a big wicker sculpture of a woman’s head and shoulders... Magpie art? ; )


Anyway – the structure has grown since I first blogged about it in March 2014:

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There’s also a nest in another tree close by. You can see both of them in this photo from January 2015. Both nests have grown bigger since then, but it is the one to the left that has the “head” added on top now : )

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In the cemetery nearby, I recently also noticed this tree:

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My first thought was “an apartment tree for birds!” – Not sure, though… Someone yesterday suggested “witch’s broom” for my mystery picture (a kind of tree disease/deformity). While I’m pretty sure that magpies made the wicker sculpture - perhaps this other tree is “bewitched”?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guess What?

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Any idea what you’re looking at here?
I’ll let you have a guess before I give the answer…

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Under the Weather

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The photos above are from a walk along the river on Monday (6th November). Since then we’ve been through a variation of sun, rain, wind, fog and frost…

Over the weekend I’ve been feeling a bit “under the weather”. Whether really to do with the weather, I’m not sure. Also got my annual flu shot on Thursday. Not been really feverish or anything, just a bit… well, whatever... Anyway, didn’t get round to any blogging - until now (Sunday evening).

Sunday started out foggy and frosty. I waited until the afternoon to go out. But even then I found the ground still treacherously icy and frosty in places (where there had not been enough sun). So my walk was cut short.

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Frozen muddy puddle


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Frost on the lawn


Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Weekend Reflections

My Town Shoot Out

SkyWatch Friday

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Shadow Shot Sunday: Halloween

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In Sweden we celebrate All Saints’ Day on the first Saturday of November (and All Souls’ Day on the Sunday); with focus on remembering the departed by visiting graves and lighting candles etc. A tradition which does not go back all that far here, but seems to be growing rather than being on the decline.

For those who prefer the American/British Halloween traditions (with pumpkins, scary costumes, parties and candy-begging etc), there is some confusion about which day is the most appropriate for such adventures. Judging from advice I’ve heard/seen given this year, 31st October (whatever day of the week it happens be) seems to be encouraged for that kind of thing now – to avoid mixing it up with the more solemn traditions.

Around here it’s been rather quiet, and I have not noticed any ghosts sneaking around.

For my own part, I preferred to go and visit some family graves earlier in the week, in sunny weather. Which means that over the weekend, I’ve felt at leisure to mostly stay in and put my feet up and ignore the mist and rain outside.

Reading: a novel by Catherine Czerkawska, The Jewel, about Robert Burns (the Scottish poet) (and his wife Jean) in “Scottish English” (i.e. with lots of Scottish dialect in it) + (just started) Het Achterhuis, Anne Frank’s Diary in Dutch (!).

Watching: the Netflix series ‘Velvet’ in Spanish (with Swedish subtexts); and last night the Disney musical movie Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson (‘Hermione’ in the Harry Potter movies), and a number of other great actors as well. Can’t say I’m a huge fan of musical movies in general, but I found myself really enjoying this one. Classic fairytale and modern fantasy in a good mix with musical / action/ romance / comedy.

Shadow Shot Sunday 2

Shadow Shot Sunday

Friday, November 3, 2017

Postcards for Halloween

171021-171026 from Jarina 0064

I do know who! Smile 
This Halloween card came from Jarina in the Netherlands.

171012-171017 from Jarina 0063

And so did this one – “Kindheitsfantasien” by Gerhard Gl├╝ck

171021-171027 from John 1724

This Welsh dragon came flying in from Britain - sent by John


Postcards for the Weekend

Postcards for the Weekend 59: Anything You Wish

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