Me

by Elton John

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve read some reviews here & elsewhere) where some readers were so disappointed by this book, that it has put them off EJ’s music. Being from New Zealand, where everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone, I certainly remember hearing about EJ throwing some rip snorting temper tantrums back stage on one of his 1990’s tours & how shattered some of the Kiwi crews were finding their idol had feet of clay. (within Elton’s four foot high platform boots, of course!) & EJ has always struck me as a bit of a name dropper. & it probably helps that while I love some of his older material I was never a rabid fan. My husband now…

So I probably would never have read this book if I hadn’t found a copy in a Little Free Library. But I am very glad I did! Elton’s voice shone through in a larger than life um… life. From a rotten childhood (a distant father who often wasn’t around & a mother who sounds insane)

I’m not just behaving like an idiot, I’m behaving like my mother – and rush around issuing desperate apologies to everyone concerned. Mum never snapped out of it, never seemed contrite, never appeared to think she was in the wrong or behaving badly. The best you could hope for was a terrible argument – in which, as ever, she had to have the last word – followed by an awkward smoothing over, a shaky truce that lasted until she went off again. As the years passed, she had elevated sulking to an epic, awesome level. She was the Cecil B. DeMille of bad moods, the Tolstoy of taking a huff. I’m exaggerating only slightly. We’re talking about a woman who didn’t speak to her own sister for ten years as a result of an argument over whether Auntie Win had put skimmed milk in her tea or not. A woman whose dedication to sulking was such that, at its height, it literally caused her to pack her entire life up and leave the country. It happened in the eighties; she fell out with me and one of Derf’s sons from his first marriage at the same time and, as a result, emigrated to Menorca. She would rather move to a foreign country than back down or apologize. There’s not an enormous amount of point in trying to reason with someone like that.”

During his childhood, it sounds like only his maternal Nan made things bearable.

Luckily Reg Dwight (EJ’s real name) was musically gifted.

From a lucky chance introduction to Bernie Taupin, Elton has really never looked back & has lived a life of extremes. Elton is very honest about a lot of things and acknowledges a lot of his character flaws.

Some parts are very funny;

My whole body hurt. Especially my hands. Since when did hangovers make your hands hurt? And why wouldn’t the person knocking at the door just fuck off, despite my repeated instructions to do so?

EJ has found sobriety, love and fatherhood now.; I hope he is happy.

My own favourite Elton John tracks; High Flying Bird, Tiny Dancer.
My favourite album; Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

I’m not so familiar with some of EJ’s later works. EJ loathes the album Leather Jackets. I’ve played it & think it was pretty good – other than EJ & Cliff Richards voices on one track (Slow Rivers) don’t mesh well together. Bernie Taupin thinks The Big Picture is their worst. If there is worse than this one I don’t want to hear it. I had to keep skipping tracks.

Me

By Elton John

Rating: 5 out of 5.
I’ve read some reviews (on Goodreads & elsewhere) where some readers were so disappointed by this book, that it has put them off EJ’s music. Being from New Zealand, where everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone, I certainly remember hearing about EJ throwing some rip snorting temper tantrums back stage on one of his 1990’s tours & how shattered some of the Kiwi crews were finding their idol had feet of clay. (within Elton’s four foot high platform boots, of course!) & EJ has always struck me as a bit of a name dropper. & it probably helps that while I love some of his older material I was never a rabid fan. My husband now…

So I probably would never have read this book if I hadn’t found a copy in a Little Free Library. But I am very glad I did! Elton’s voice shone through in a larger than life um… life. From a rotten childhood (a distant father who often wasn’t around & a mother who sounds insane)

I’m not just behaving like an idiot, I’m behaving like my mother – and rush around issuing desperate apologies to everyone concerned. Mum never snapped out of it, never seemed contrite, never appeared to think she was in the wrong or behaving badly. The best you could hope for was a terrible argument – in which, as ever, she had to have the last word – followed by an awkward smoothing over, a shaky truce that lasted until she went off again. As the years passed, she had elevated sulking to an epic, awesome level. She was the Cecil B. DeMille of bad moods, the Tolstoy of taking a huff. I’m exaggerating only slightly. We’re talking about a woman who didn’t speak to her own sister for ten years as a result of an argument over whether Auntie Win had put skimmed milk in her tea or not. A woman whose dedication to sulking was such that, at its height, it literally caused her to pack her entire life up and leave the country. It happened in the eighties; she fell out with me and one of Derf’s sons from his first marriage at the same time and, as a result, emigrated to Menorca. She would rather move to a foreign country than back down or apologize. There’s not an enormous amount of point in trying to reason with someone like that.”


During his childhood, it sounds like only his maternal Nan made things bearable.

Luckily Reg Dwight (EJ’s real name) was musically gifted.

From a lucky chance introduction to Bernie Taupin, Elton has really never looked back & has lived a life of extremes. Elton is very honest about a lot of things and acknowledges a lot of his character flaws.

Some parts are very funny;

My whole body hurt. Especially my hands. Since when did hangovers make your hands hurt? And why wouldn’t the person knocking at the door just fuck off, despite my repeated instructions to do so?

EJ has found sobriety, love and fatherhood now.; I hope he is happy.

My own favourite Elton John tracks; High Flying Bird, Tiny Dancer.
My favourite album; Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

I’m not so familiar with some of EJ’s later works. EJ loathes the album Leather Jackets. I’ve played it & think it was pretty good – other than EJ & Cliff Richards voices on one track (Slow Rivers) don’t mesh well together. Bernie Taupin thinks The Big Picture is their worst. If there is worse than this one I don’t want to hear it. I had to keep skipping tracks.



Longbourn

by Jo Baker

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Rating (or even thinking about) this book has given me a bit of a dilemma.

It isn’t a bad book and some parts were quite interesting – but I’m just not enjoying it. And I’m looking at my physical ‘to-read’ shelf (yes, I’m such a Goodreader that I do have a physical shelf as well as my virtual ones on Goodreads) There are around 60 books on it – & I want to read at least 58 of them more than I want to finish this book!

Since I was an adult I haven’t wanted to be born at any time other than around ten years before I was (it would have been really cool to be a teen in the Swinging Sixties!) I’ve never thought I was descended from British Royalty or Admiral Nelson! I’m from good farming stock & I guess the best fate for a nineteenth century me would have been a milkmaid. I certainly wouldn’t have been a second Elizabeth Bennett!

So while I found the start, showing the very hard life that Sarah (one of the maids) had interesting and thought provoking, my attention did start wandering. Some things like (view spoiler) Just seemed unlikely. Then there was one very violent scene, which had me literally drop the book with shock.

So this book would be good book for some readers. Just not this reader.

DNF at 27%

A Vegetable Cookbook

by Digby Law

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Very little is known about the shy and reclusive Kiwi cook, the late Digby Law, other than he died in 1987 & he loved vegetables. Digby used to spend a lot of his free time working on his father’s vegetable garden – & then cooking or preserving the results!

So many vegetables in this COVID world have been so expensive – I have yet to find my favourite (asparagus) at a price I can afford. But what has been affordable is beetroot – one of my husband’s favourites. & the beetroot (beets to some of you) we have been buying has such a wonderfully earthy taste! I have used Digby’s [book:A Pickle and Chutney Cookbook|9381122] & preserved beetroot three different ways, but we have beetroot coming out of our ears still, so I was looking for ways to serve the beetroot as a vegetable. & any time I experience a vegetable glut, of course I turn to Digby!

I loved his Beetroot and Apple Salad – of course the beetroot bled all over the salad. So it looked – different. However, the caper garnish was a very nice touch! I’ve also made Harvard Beets & Sweet-Sour Beets- the Harvard Beets was the nicer of the two. Next might be Beetroot with Caraway Seeds. Love Caraway.

We have an avocado tree & I don’t usually have any trouble thinking of ways to eat the avos! But this book happened to fall open at the recipe for Avocado Stuffing for Roast Chicken. I just had to try this one.

However – disaster. The two avocados I hid from my husband

set aside for this were bad! I only had one other – very small- ripe avocado. Since I had paid an outrageous price for one tomato I still went ahead.

After stuffing the chicken cavity, I still had enough for what my Canadian mother used to call ‘Dressing.’

So pretty! After cooking in the oven it looked like this;

The chicken stuffing was very nice, but the cooked dressing was really delicious, served cold the next day! I will certainly make again when our own tomatoes are in season.

I’m looking longingly (still) at the asparagus recipes. I’d really like to recreate the soufflé.

Watch this space!

Mophead Tu

by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved Mophead and I love it’s sequel as well!

Selina (NZ’s Poet Laureate at the time) is invited to read a poem to the Queen at Westminster Abbey.

Being called a


doesn’t phase her, but having to work from a word that the Queen has chosen calls for a bit of thinking and reflection.

The book that has resulted is hilarious!

The illustrations aren’t quite the same quality as the first Mophead book (but I love this one of the late Prince Philip!)

This book has some important and thought provoking messages.

Rock on, Selina!

Ross Poldark

by Winston Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I absolutely loved this book.

All the characters were so alive, so three dimensional. I had no trouble keeping even quite minor characters sorted out. After (part) reading The Mirror & the Light finding that my aging memory can still keep track of large character casts if the book is compelling enough is quite a relief! The book contains everything – major setbacks, romance, tragedy, family life and humour. It is not surprising that two different TV series have been made from the Poldark saga.

The three main female characters Demelza, Verity & Elizabeth were what I particularly loved. They are all nice people but none of them are saints. I particularly like the joy that Demelza brings to the page, skipping around with huge bunches of wild flowers, yet also working so hard.

As well as giving us compelling characters, Graham does some of the best writing of a blighted romance I have ever read.

She pushed the bolt across the door and sat abruptly in the first chair. Her romance was over; even though she rebelled against the fact, she knew that it was so. She felt faint and sick and desperately tired of being alive. If death could come quietly and peacefully she would accept it, would sink into it as one sank into a bed wanting only sleep and self-forgetfulness.

So beautiful and tender. & unlike many male writers, Graham doesn’t disdain to give us clothing descriptions. It is a criticism often levelled at Georgette Heyer, but I enjoy it as part of the historical novel experience.

I now also own parts 2-6 in this series. I can’t wait to read Demelza i hope that all of these books hold my interest – I think it will depend how much detail there is about tin mining, which to be honest, doesn’t interest me at all!

‘Anger, concern and bafflement’ — Homepaddock

How on earth can this be justified? A start-up headed by an American wedding celebrant with close to zero knowledge of New Zealand literature has been given a massive $500,000 grant from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to “help Aotearoa audiences access books”. The grant was announced on Friday, and has stunned leading figures […]

‘Anger, concern and bafflement’ — Homepaddock

Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Not an easy book to read or review.

Jean Rhys was inspired (some may even say obsessed) by Bertha Mason (in this book mostly called Antoinette Cosway.) from Jane Eyre. I reread Jane Eyre in preparation for this read, as this novella is considered a prequel. In my case as I mention in my review of Jane Eyre this was definitely needed, as I believe when I read Jane Eyre in the past that I read an abridged or heavily censored edition. For someone who has read a “full” edition & who has a decent memory, a recent read probably isn’t necessary – & it won’t help!. To be honest, even with a recent read, I was still confused! I found that helps reflect the confusion in both Antoinette & Rochester’s minds. & I felt the heat, the lushness – & the rage Rochester feels when he thinks he is being manipulated by everyone including his family back in England.

Rochester believes he is in a corrupt & decadent society…

..& he is both young & immature.

I found it better to relax into the beauty of the writing & not try to pick at faults. I know this isn’t my usual way, & I could do that because the novella is so short.

Reading the notes & introduction of my copy this particular novella had a very chequered history. It was started many years earlier by Ms Rhys, partially destroyed and then heavily rewritten by Rhys. This may explain the incoherence. I was captured by this book, but anyone reading the reviews on Goodreads will realise it is not for everyone.

A Midsummer’s Equation

by Keigo Higashino

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When I read The Devotion of Suspect X & Salvation of a Saint I was reminded of Chess or Shogi;

With this title (the third Detective Galileo novel published in English) I am reminded more of a kaleidoscope;

Where there are a lot of repetitive and blurry images that eventually become clear when you get to the resolution of the book – the true centre.

There were a lot of issues that resonated with me as I live in a touristy part of New Zealand (back when we had tourists) and the trade offs that are involved with having tourists, having other businesses operating and really wanting to enjoy a tranquil unspoilt world. And we have had plenty of battles with mining companies too! Some of these issues are repeated maybe too much. Others do have a point.

do have a point (hide spoiler)].)

A Higoshino read seems to always be a read that needs patience. But you will be rewarded.

I’m looking forward to reading Silent Parade next year.

The Mirror & the Light

by Hilary Mantel

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I have just watched the TV series Anne Boleyn. I found it a little disappointing – mainly because “Henry VIII” just didn’t have the presence you expect. But it reminded me I hadn’t finished this series.

This book was another disappointment – one I should have been prepared for really. Lots of my friends have read it & given it 4 or 5★, but there just didn’t seem to be much buzz around it in the bookish world after it was published although there was certainly plenty before. Never a good sign.

The beginning starting with Anne Boleyn’s execution was thrilling and there was some beautiful writing, then more beautiful writing, but the pace was extremely slow. The book only seemed to have any vitality when Henry or (surprisingly) Jane Seymour were on the page.

This reminds me of Sue Grafton‘s later books. When the author is a mega success I guess the editor is hesitant to be too heavy with the red pen. I abandoned this book at 348 pages and I feel 100 pages could have been pruned, even at this early stage. I didn’t feel like ploughing on to see if things improved.

DNF at 39.4%

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