Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville

Fegan was an IRA killer in northern Ireland.

Went to prison for 12 years for his crimes.

Finally out of jail — now that “peace” has come — he is being haunted day and night by 12 ghosts of the people he killed.

This was Neville’s first book. And it’s much admired by fans of Irish literature, a high standard.

It’s profane and violent. But the plot is certainly engaging.


books, ethics, food, human rights

World Travel by Anthony Bourdain (2021)

Said to be written by Bourdain — his longtime assistant Laurie Woolever actually only had one meeting about this book with her boss before he killed himself at the age of 61 in June 2018. 

A shocking end to one of our favourite travel and food gurus.

But Bourdain had long talked about writing a summing-up travel book, highlighting his favourite foods, cultures, meals and destinations. Woolever made it happen.

The book includes short summaries of 43 destinations from his many years filming Parts Unknown and No Reservations.

Profane, opinionated and often hilarious.

Bourdain was a tough guy. But travel opened his eyes. He wanted to tell the truth, to challenge the powerful, to expose wrongdoing. He’d call out racism at every opportunity.

He championed industrious Spanish-speaking immigrants—from Mexico, Ecuador, and other Central and South American countries—who are cooks and chefs in many United States restaurants,

Amazon – World Travel: An Irreverent Guide, April 20, 2021

product endorsements, travel

Finding BEST Flights on Google Sites

I’ve booked a number of flights lately.  #PandemicOver 😀

I ALWAYS start with Matrix Airfare Search by ITA Software  A few companies — e.g. Southwest — opted not to be included. 

Even if my date of flight is fixed, I always start with “See calendar of lowest fares”.

Clicking around, once I have the price, date, details (usually AC or WJ), I go directly to the airline website to book the flight.  One. Less. Middleman.  

I try to avoid booking on a series of airlines as — when something goes wrong — each blames you and the other airline for your woes.

Google Matrix originally let you book flights.  But the airlines complained so they dropped that feature.

If I can’t get the price promised on Matrix, I try Expedia or one of the other aggregators.  Once in a while they have a block of cheaper tickets no longer available directly from the airline. 

If that’s too confusing, here’s a comprehensive tutorial

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Recently I used another Google flight site, deciding to fly to Lisbon on November 1st from Calgary.  

From that page you can click from any country to any continent. From Canada to Europe, for example.

As usual, Air Transat was the cheapest way to get to Europe from Canada. 


In the Garden of Beasts (Hitler’s Berlin) by Erik Larson

Erik Larson is one of our best non-fiction writers.

The Devil in the White City is the best of his books I’ve read, so far.

This one is excellent too. An inside early look at Berlin under the physically unimpressive Adolf Hitler and his lickspittles.

WW II would result in 70–85 million dead, or about 3% of the 1940 world population. Hitler personally responsible for many of those millions.

He committed suicide April 30, 1945. Could Hitler have been stopped earlier?

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin is the true story of American Ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, particularly the years 1933 to 1937 when he and his family, including his daughter Martha, lived in Berlin. …

Martha, separated from her husband and in the process of divorce, became caught up in the glamor and excitement of Berlin’s social scene and had a series of liaisons, most of them sexual, including among them Gestapo head Rudolf Diels and Soviet attaché and secret agent Boris Vinogradov. 

In fact, daughter Martha was once presented to Hitler. One of the Führer’s henchmen hoped the dictator would be attracted. An American concubine would make his hateful regime more palatable to the USA.


Not a Happy Family by Shari Lapena


Agatha Christie would like this book.

Shari Lapena is one of the best murder mystery writers working today.

Fred and Sheila Merton are brutally murdered the night after an Easter dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they?

They each stand to inherit millions. …

Readers try to eliminate suspects one at a time.

ethics, government, human rights

A Fantastic Political Ad

Republican politicians in the States have found that making extreme statements somehow motivates deplorable voters to show up on Election Day.

Democrats are typically more restrained in their ads. Those are often boring.

Here’s Charles Graham who’s running for Congress. I feel like moving to North Carolina so I could vote for him. #inspiring

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

cycling, hiking, travel

Birthday Party in LISBON

I’m 64-years-young on November 2nd.

I’ll be celebrating in Lisbon, Portugal. You know — the most vaccinated nation in the world? 😇

No covid test. No quarantine.

I’ll be hiking famed Fisherman’s Trail. And Seven Hanging Valleys.

Renting a touring bicycle from BikeIberia.

BUT if anyone asks, I’m there mainly looking to get some dental work done. North American dentists are the most overpaid in the world.

searching for a dentist

As usual, I’m flying to Europe on Air Transat. Very good. Cheapest by far — BUT they don’t have many flights / week.

As it happens, I celebrated my 53rd birthday in Porto, Portugal. So this is something of a re-do.


The Painter by Peter Heller

Excellent. Art. Philosophy. Violence.

And fly fishing.

“Peter Heller is the poet laureate of the literary thriller.” —Michael Koryta

Painter is my second Heller book, I liked this one better than The Guide.

I’ll read more from this author. Original and surprising. Opposite of the formulaic and predictable books of Baldacci, for example.

Jim Stegner is a troubled, brilliant artist.

He flees the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado.

Here he spends his days painting and fly fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him.

But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. …