Category Archives: Holiday

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica – a review

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica was a book I had heard good things of. Whilst it was technically not part of the TOPCWFC2015 I wanted something that was going to be interesting enough to keep me occupied on my recent plane ride. Therefore I added this to my very large download pile.

This was another book told from three viewpoints (I seem to have had a run of these recently) split into before and after time frames. Firstly there is Eve who is the mother of missing Mia and married to a Judge. Gabe is the policeman who is investigating Mia’s disappearance. Then there is Colin, who kidnaps Mia. Early on in the story Mia returns but it is clear that something very disturbing has happened, as she has complete amnesia about the time she was away. The story progresses through a series of flashbacks as Eve tries to help her daughter come to terms with her kidnapping and find out what went on.

I’m in two minds about this story. The premise was good, and it was an interesting take on a kidnap story. However there was just something that didn’t work for me. It all seemed a bit too cliché and the fact that I guessed the end twist about three quarters of the way through was a bit disappointing.

I unfortunately didn’t really like the characters and found the relationships to be a bit stilted. I was left really not caring about any of them or what was happening which is never a good way to read a mystery. I do think partly the problem is my expectations were quite high, and this can often lead to disappointment. Equally I don’t know whether my enjoyment was hampered by the fact that I read it whilst travelling and broke off half way through to watch the film of Gone Girl on the plane, or if it was just that the writing wasn’t really my style. I found that the switching between viewpoints was really annoying, and for some reason they didn’t flow very well.

It was a shame as the story could have been really good, and I had high hopes. However I’m afraid to say that for me although it certainly wasn’t a bad read and I wanted to read to the end, neither did I find it particularly ground exciting. Maybe it just goes to show I should stick to reading people who will be at Harrogate and concentrate on the TOPCWFC2015.

 

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Fear Nothing

I’m writing this sitting on my own in a lovely restaurant, on an incredibly busy street in Toronto. I’ve just finished a very tasty risotto with fiddleheads (I had to ask the waiter, they are basically rolled up green beans) whilst enjoying a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve had a very busy day, I’ve been on a bus tour of the city, I’ve been on a boat round the islands, I’ve visited a food market, I’ve found a bookshop that apparently has 12 miles of shelves although I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration and I’ve sat in a sports bar and had a beer amongst a group of blokes watching the blue jays play the Canadian version of rounders.

All in all it’s been a pretty good day. As I’ve been wondering around on my own it seems that everyone wants to talk. Everywhere I go people have been chatting to me, and without fail they always seem surprised I’m travelling on my own, and they tell me how they wish they had that confidence. Obviously it is not something I had a choice in as I’ve come for work (I volunteered purely for the good of the team obviously, I’d hate to put anyone else through this hardship) It was however my choice to fly over a few days early so that I could enjoy the city and have a couple of days holiday on my own.

I never think of myself as particularly confident, especially compared to others. I walk into a restaurant and I’ll sit at the table I’m given and stay there even if I don’t like it. I’d hate to cause a scene after all. Yet having sat here that is clearly not what others think as one couple I’ve been watching have sat at five different tables before they eventually ordered some food. I would avoid walking into an empty shop as I’d feel compelled to buy something I didn’t want just because I’d feel bad walking out empty handed. If I pick up a bottle of orange juice instead of apple juice, at the till I’ll pretend it is what I wanted rather than ask to change it and hold up a queue.

Canadian’s don’t seem to have any such qualms when it comes to causing a stir. I visited the CN Tower yesterday and unwittingly ended up causing havoc. I got to the ticket office which was practically empty and obediently stood where I assumed the queue started. Unfortunately this wasn’t the designated area for people to line up. When I stepped forward to buy my ticket a massive queue of people had built up behind me. Whilst I quietly bought my ticket and slipped away pretending it was nothing to do with me, the staff were threatening to call security in order to move people who were refusing to lose their place in the queue and move to the correct side. If anyone had asked me to move in the first place I’d have gone bright red, and moved as fast as I possibly good whilst mumbling apologies to anyone who was nearby.

I think the idea of confidence is often misrepresented though as I don’t believe it is something you are necessarily born with but it is something you can choose to have. I was nervous of flying alone to a foreign country. I could have chosen to wait and come out with others, but I chose to do it on my own. (I should point out here that whilst in my head I am now the modern day Amelia Earhart, I am aware that travelling to Canada is not exactly the same as back packing round India, or trekking through the Amazon rainforest on my own!) Once I got here I could have spent every night sitting on my own in my hotel room cooking my own meals (A handy travel tip for the middle classes – two Gideon bibles and an up turned iron is a great way to cook an egg apparently) yet whilst I’m here I want to experience as much as I can. I have one rule when away which is that I can only eat in places we don’t have in York, that is obviously a lot easier here in Toronto than in Birmingham.

I remember when I was young and went through a phase of thinking I was very cool and trendy and writing great life affirming slogans on my pencil case such as Don’t worry be happy. One such phrase was ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ As annoying as it sounds now, there is some merit in that one. Whilst clearly once I get home and the holiday spirit wears off I’ll revert back to my usual self. Someone who will walk into a shop and wonder round pretending to be really interested in purchasing items, even though I’ve accidently walked into Burtons for men, instead of Dorothy perkins. At the moment I think I am brave enough to return the wine I’ve just bought as it’s a merlot not a cabernet – then again let’s not be silly wine is wine after all.

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The Forgotten Garden

Due to it being my birthday, I took Monday off work. It was a lovely sunny day and I had a very enjoyable time pottering around in the garden, mowing the lawn along with the stepford wives up the road, and planting hanging baskets. This was the first time I’ve really done any gardening this year. I think this as well as the fact the daffodils are well and truly out on the York walls says that spring has most definitely sprung.
It’s amazing what a difference a bit of sunshine on an evening has. Everyone seems that much happier and despite there being exactly the same number of hours in the day, for some reason days always seem longer in the sunshine. It is nice to be able to walk home from work in the daylight again. However the sunshine does bring with it other problems, the biggest one for me being guilt.
Whenever the sun is out, I always feel the need to go outside and do something. Not a major three day hike over the dales, but mow the lawn, or visit a National Trust property, or walk someone’s dog. I blame my parents as I think it must be a hangover from when I was a child. Every day during the school holidays I was kicked out of the house in the morning and told to come back in time for tea. We were constantly informed that anything other than being outside was wasting the day. Although admittedly this came from the Mother who also told us that a television would blow up if it was left on for longer than half an hour at a time so we should have been suspicious (note this was only during the day, in the evening it could stay on as long as my parents wanted)
The problem is now as a grown adult, I don’t always want to have to go outside. Sometimes I just want to curl up in front of the television with a glass of wine and do nothing. Sometimes I just want to sit on the sofa and read a book. I’m a grown adult, so of course I should be able to do this. There is no one to tell me I can’t, no one to kick me out of the house until tea time, it is my house and I can sit around all day if I want to. Yet I just can’t do it. It is wasting the day don’t you know?
Sometimes I do long for the dark days of winter, when I can happily sit at home reading a crime novel pretending that if it weren’t for the rain and the sleet I’d actually be doing a 10k run before tea. There was a part of me hoping for rain on Monday so I could start my new SJ Watson book before I see him on Friday. Oh well, at least after a few months of being completely forgotten we now have a stripy front lawn and of course summer is always a good excuse for coffee and a few chapters of a book in the sun.

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Alone

Well I’ve been abandoned for two whole weeks whilst Mr F goes on holiday. Whilst he’s off planting trees, or fixing schools, or some other worthwhile activity (He’s actually gone to Lesotho with a charity called Africa’s Gift  find out more here) I’m left behind all alone cleaning up cat sick and sorting out the recycling bins.

Now clearly I would not admit this to Mr F as the truth sometimes gets in the way of a good sulk over my abandonment (where he is there is limited internet access and electricity so I can get away with this admission) However there is a small part of me that is actually looking forward to a couple of weeks on my own.

Whilst of course I love him to bits, I do find men have a habit of getting in the way sometimes. I am someone who quite likes just pottering. I can potter in the garden planting seeds, watching birds, pruning something that I don’t really know what it is. I can potter in the house tidying things up (which actually just means putting anything I find in a big box as if you can’t see things then they don’t exist) or sorting things out. I can even potter round town looking in bookshops, or wondering round the market. However it’s hard to potter properly when there are two of you, as one is always wanting to do something.

I have a theory that the only reason sport was invented is to give people time on their own to potter. If I said to Mr F one Saturday morning, today I’m going to spend sorting out my bookshelves and reading my latest book he’d huff and puff a bit and come up with a list of activities he wanted to do. Clearly none of those would involve anything to do with books. That’s where football comes in. Never in a million years did I ever think I would religiously plot in my diary when the football was going to be on. Yet there I am with each match marked down knowing that no matter what else is going on in the world the football will keep him entertained for a while.

Being on my own for two weeks also means I can eat what I want without having to consult anyone. At the risk of sounding about 90 the first thing I bought after dropping Mr F off at the train station was courgettes. Although he’s not a fussy eater he does have some strange vegetable aversions including courgettes which are one of my favourite vegetables. I have tried to encourage him to eat them, I once made a three course courgette themed meal starting with courgette fritters, then courgette pasta finished with courgette and chocolate cake, yet he’s still not keen.

As well as all the time I’ll get to read books and potter round whilst eating courgettes, I finally get full control of the tv remote. The timing couldn’t be more perfect with the new series of criminal minds back on the television, and Masterchef having started again.

Also in terms of good timing, his departure has coincided with one of the most exciting things of the year. The release of the programme for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. This is a thing that takes time to digest properly. It has to be read through a couple of times, before lists are created of which authors I’ve already read, and which I need to start reading. The sessions have to be planned to see if there are any we could stand to miss to give a bit of breathing and reading space during the weekend. All of this takes time, and I’ll have lots of it on my hands.

Of course saying all that I am obviously going to miss Mr F loads, and am very proud of him, but somehow I think the time is going to fly by and I’ll no doubt wonder where it all went once he’s home.

 

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