Post #2 about last week in Hawaii. After The Big Island we spent 4 days on Ohau – the famous Waikiki beach can’t be missed, even if a little too touristy for my liking. But it is probably one of the most famous beaches in the world. The colours are amazing. I much prefer Lanikai Beach though, in the North of the island, about 40 minutes drive from Waikiki. Paradise on earth. The colour of the water is absolutely magical. See for yourselves…
This was a long awaited holiday, after many stressful months at work and at home: a week in Hawaii. We spent 4 days on The Big Island, and 4 days on Oahu (next post). We found a beautiful guest house in the Southeastern corner of The Big Island (also called Hawaii). As it happened (well, it was sort of planned) it was close to the most amazing active volcano. I had seen volcanos before, in Central America, Indonesia and Italy, among others, but never had I come that close to flowing lava. There is something magical and almost frightening to see the core of the Earth come to the surface and flow so freely. We were absolutely fascinated. After walking on old lava for about an hour and a half, we reached a place where the lava flowed from the top of the mountain. What an incredible sight. The lava is about 1,100 degree Celsius so of course you cannot stand too close for too long. We grabbed a stick and poked the lava – the stick burst into flames and the pressure that came out was incredible. You have to see how blobs of liquid rock form on top of each other to realise the power of the process. A few hundreds metres away the lava flow enters the ocean, releasing massive clouds of hot steam. Fire in water, not something you see every day. This amazing phenomenon creates beautiful black sand beaches. The pictures and video below do not make justice to the intensity of the experience.
Kenneth Cook is an Australian writer who was fascinated by the bush and died in 1987. A friend of mine gave me the French edition of The Killer Koala, published one year before Cook’s passing. I searched for the book online, but it seems to be quite a rare find these days. Amazon has got a few copies at an outrageous price. The Killer Koala is a compilation of short stories about animals from the Australian bush. Apparently they are true store which happened to Cook while travelling in the outback. Some of them are quite funny, others incredible, and they all tell something of the true Australia, this remote country at the heart of our continent. It’s an easy read, and for anyone who’s been here and enjoys the outdoor, a breath of fresh air – so to speak.
Those who have been reading my blog for a while know I love S.J. Bolton‘s work. So when her latest novel became available in Kindle Format before the paperback release, I just had to get it. I took it with me on a flight from Australia to Hawaii, and that’s all it took to read it. Bolton’s previous novel, Dead Scared, didn’t engage me as much as her other ones had, so I was wondering what this one would do to me. Loved it! Absolutely loved it. It’s excellent, riveting, nail-biting, one-sitting-read, pure Bolton material! This book features Lacey Flint (for the third time I think) as well as a number of other characters who have appeared in her novels previously. Of course, it’s also a beautiful standalone novel. I was a little surprised – and quite pleased with myself I have to confess – when at about 75% of the book I knew whodunnit. It did surprise me, and I thought that Bolton had on purpose left enough hints for us to guess who the murderer was (it can be a great device in crime novels to know who the murderer is when the main characters don’t have a clue). I should have known better, of course. I was way off the mark, and Bolton delivered a massive blow to my self-esteem when it was revealed I was plainly wrong. Great plot, unexpected findings, great pace (you just can’t put it down), beautiful characters… everything you need to spend your afternoon engrossed in a book. In this one, I found that Bolton’s treatment of her characters reached an intensity and sensibility that she hadn’t reached yet. Beautiful, yet gripping. Like This, For Ever is more than highly recommended. It’s a must read.
“The three mistakes of my life” is a book by Chetan Bhagat, an author from India. Bhagat is quite successful and has written many good books. In this one he tells the story of Govind and his two friends Ish and Omi, who live in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Govind wants to become a businessman, Ish loves nothing else but cricket and Omi is just happy being with his friends. Together they open a cricket shop and become somewhat successful in their business endeavours. This is the background to the story of how they discover a young Muslim boy called Ali, who has a gift for cricket. Ish trains him hard and tries to make him an elite cricket player. But things don’t come easy to any of the three friends. Govind’s business dreams are shattered by a powerful earthquake, Ali does not want to relocate to Australia to become a successful cricket player, and Omi has to face the political ambitions of some family members. The politics and religious clashes between Hindus and Muslims are part of the story, and in fact, will contribute to its tragic ending. This novel reminded me of the tensions I myself felt between Hindus and Muslims when travelling through Rajasthan. The story is okay, although a bit superficial at times – and the cricket thing can be a little tedious. It’s a nice story of love, passion, money, politics, and hate. Well written with fun characters, but it would benefit from more depth in its character depiction. A good read, and one in a different setting for once.
Long silence from me… Many things have happened during the last few weeks. First we’ve moved and are still unpacking things. We only moved around the corner, but it does not make it any easier. We love our new place, though. This is a penthouse style and has a huge outdoor terrace, perfect for plants and entertaining! Work has been hectic, and family stuff have added to the stress. Anyway, I am taking the opportunity of some down time to write this post.
I came across Rubbernecker, the latest book by Belinda Bauer, when reading Nikki-Ann’s blog – I trust her reviews and I immediately knew I had to read this book. It sounded just like the type of story I like. I’ve read Blacklands by Bauer and found it very good (I wrote a review of it here a while ago.) Bauer’s new book gets 5 stars from me. I like the fact that it is a standalone book for a start. Many crime novels and thrillers these days tend to be series – once an author finds a good formula, they stick to it. In Rubbernecker, three parallel stories take place and eventually all link together. You can sort of see the link from the start, but it’s hard to tell how it is really going to develop, and I loved that. The first story is about Patrick, a teen-ager with Asperger’s syndrome who wants to study anatomy to understand what happens when you die – an interesting premise. Bauer depicts the way Patrick feels, reacts and thinks in a most credible way, and she manages to skilfully develop the plot at the same time, not an easy task when your protagonist does not do the things “normal” people do (please note the quotes here, by normal I don’t mean people living with Asperger’s syndrome aren’t normal, I just mean they do things differently). Patrick is a very loveable character. The stress that his mother goes through feels very real. The second story is Tracy’s, a nurse who works in the coma ward of a hospital. And the third story is about Samuel Galen, a coma patient. Now, what Bauer does here is a real tour-de-force – Imagine telling the story from a coma patient’s perspective without being boring or flat… Loved it! The way Bauer describes Samuel coming out of his coma (opening his eyes) is fantastic. There are a few great moments in the book, like the initial depiction of an accident, line by line, and from the eyes of the person in the car. There’s also someone’s death (I’m not saying who it is not to spoil the fun) seen through his own eyes: this was very powerful. The beauty about the story is that although there is a clear conclusion, some of it is left to the imagination, but with just about enough information to make your mind about a number of things… I read the book in one sitting, of course, and now I find myself wishing I hadn’t read it so that I could read it again.
I have written quite a few reviews of Gerritsen’s novels, especially the Rizzoli & Isles series. I like Gerritsen’s simple writing style and excellent plots. I particularly liked this one, The Mephisto Club, which is the one in which Isles’ parents split up. The story revolves around satanist cults and the search for fallen angels, the infamous Nephilins. This is a good story and I read it in a flash. Probably one of the best Gerritsen crime novels I have read.