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Posts from the ‘Messages’ Category



I learned about this challenge from Tracy’s blog  Bitter Tea and Mystery! I too am joining in on Book Bingo at Unruly Reader. This bingo card can work perfectly with my MountTBR2022 challenge. I’m sure I can find some book on my 1300+ books TBR on Kindle.

It is a basic bingo card where you try to get a bingo or go for blackout.   There are some explanations of the topics but you can interpret as you see fit.



My Selections:    2/25

Timely Title – book relevant in its own era


NYT Best Seller –


NEWS – book that affects a region (North East South West)


Fleeting fancy – picked up on a whim


Seasonal – book that evokes a season


Native American Author


Positive Psychology – book that explores building a life worth living


Subculture – (profession/obsession/pursuit/belief system/set of customs)


Afrofuturism – SG/fantasy/tech to explore the African diaspora experience


Librarian recommended – Unruly Reader?


I-syllable Author Surname – writer 1 sys last name – Art of Racing in the Rain by G. Stein


Coming of Age – growth of MC from naivety to maturity


Play –


Period Piece – book that could only take place in that time

  1. Dawn of the Belle Epoque – M. McAuliffe – READ

14 Dawn of the Belle Epoque The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends by Mary McAuliffe by Mary McAuliffe Mary McAuliffe

Finish date: 17 January 2022
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: A

Bad news: No book is perfect…but I had to think very hard to find a minus point in this book.
It was long (400 pages). That is a lot to cover in 2 days. I have the next book on my reading list but will have to wait until I digest this one. Rightly Ms McAuliffe touches on the politics and science (..few pages about Mme Cure) in the Belle Epoque. Honestly, I’ve read about – seen movie about The Dreyfus Affair so felt I could skim these pages. Also George Clemeanceau and all his band of merry men…don’t interest me. Also…there were not many illustrations in the book so I had to depend on Wikipedia/Google.

Good news: Now the real reason to read this book is the world of literature, art, music and engineering! 75% of the book is about the wonderful world of French painters who dazzled the world. We all know the list of names but I fell very much head over heels reading about Pissarro. He tends to fall into the back round when you think about Van Gogh, Renoir, Degas, Manet brothers and Monet. But Camille Pissarro was the father figure who nurtured and held these men together! PS: Did you know Pissarro was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands?

Good News Having read bio’s about B. Morisot and V. Hugo I could quickly get through the first chapters. Also I’ve read all 20 of Zola’s Rougon-Macquart books….so references to Nana or L’Assommier, L’Oeuvre were familiar characters to me. I knew nothing about the great 4 composers Claude Debussy, D’Indy, Ravel and the wonderful Saint-Saëns. If you do anything listen to his Carnival des Animaux on Spotify…just breathtaking. This book contains tidbits of information that have slipped between the cracks of Wikipedia!

Good news: There were interesting chapters about the history of
the Pantheon in Paris (…..Victor Hugo thought is a wretched copy of St. Peter’s in Rome!) Statue of Liberty – Eiffel Tower. There were…steamy love affairs: between Debussy and older Mme Vasnier (married). Another affair between Claude Monet and Mme Alice Hoschedé (married) was very touching…they stayed devoted to each other for life! Loved the back round information about Rodin’s famous sculpture “The Kiss”…was it inspired by his affair with Camille Claudel or Dante’s Inferno 2nd level Francesca en Paolo?

Good news: Auguste Escoffier shook-up the world of haute cuisine and created Pêche Melba for Australian singer Nellie Melba and Fraises Bernhardt for Sarah, the great French actress. He was just as revolutionary as anything Rodin, Seurat, Debussy or Gustave Eiffel were doing! He looked at restaurant meals from a woman’s point of view….as every chef should!

Good news: Did I learn something I never heard? Sarah Bernhardt was not only an actress but also a sculptor. I got a peak at the installation plans for the Statue of Liberty and Tour Eiffel. Learned about the uproar the controversial sculpture The Bronze Age by Rodin created. The model was a Belgian soldier and so lifelike no one believed it was not made with a plaster caste of the body! What a body! (see Wikipedia)

Personal While reading this book I had Spotify to listen to the music of the composers and Wikipedia to have the many works of art (don’t forget the beautiful Art Nouveau illustrations by Alphonse Mucha….beautiful!) by the painters at my fingertips. It is the best way to read this book. Finally after having collected dust on my TBR for 5 years…I discovered this gem!


1980s Classic – published in 1980s and still widely read


Time Capsule – about another era….time travel or perspective about current-day on an earlier time


Fast – short book or fast paced


Slow – book you want to savor, don’t want it to end….of that just won’t end!


Wanderlust – character’s journey to another place or your yearning to travel


Free Time – smth you can read in 5 min!! (article – poem – blogpost)


Ability diverse – character with a physical of cognitive disability


One Hit Wonder – author who published one notable book


Immersion – book you can’t stop thinking about – Redeployment by Phil Klay


Vintage – Vintage Classics published by Penguin Random House


Biography – Thomas Becket by John Guy


  1. Thomas Becket – John Guy (purchased 11.11 2015) – READ
3. Thomas Becket Warrior, Priest, Rebel, Victim A 900-Year-Old Story Retold by John Guy by John Guy John Guy
Finish date: 05 January 2022
Genre: biography
Rating: B

Review: From my notes I see that the book captured
my interest starting with the “broken relationship” between King Henry II and Thomas Becket in chapter 12. So You have to plod on during the first 40% of
the book that was just a description of a middle class man who climbed the social, academic and political ladder. I was impressed how Becket’s mother was keen to see what her son needed for his future (education etc)

Bad news: some key issues (Constituions of Clarendon 1164, turning point in king-archbishop relationship) took a few chapters to get through. Tip: read about people/issues quickly on ( great reference website ) and it will save you time. The chapters can be ‘skimmed’ if you then wish.

Good news: This book really gave me an idea what happened in that period 1120 (birth) – 1170 (murder) – 1220 (veneration of the saint). Focus is on the ruthless, untrustworthy vindictive character of King Henry II and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury the ambitious, uncompromising zealot and how they clash. Sparks fly!

Personal:The only history about Henry II I knew was from the movie Lion in Winter with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. I loved the film. It takes place years after Becket’s murder and I must admit Henry II is painted in the embellishment of Hollywood colors and does not even divulge what (excusez le mot) a badass he was! Hepburn brought Eleanor of Aquitaine alive for me and I’ve read more books about her.

Trivia: Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the longest living royalty in the Middle Ages…reached the age of 82 and outlived 8 of her 10 children.


New Year’s Eve 2021


  1. Time to start the New Year’s pre-show with the cats…Ben & Jerry!
  2. Let’s pop that bottle of champagne that has my name on it!
  3. #GelukkigNieuwJaar
  4. #HappyNewYear2022


#Merry Xmas 2021

  1. Xmas in lockdown will be tense this year with 2 new kittens.
  2. I need eyes behind my head to stay one jump ahead of them!
  3. Loved this foto (see below) which sums up any household
  4. …that is trying to combine Peace on Earth with Xmas tree with ornaments!



One last message especially for Jinger @intrepidarkansawyer

  1. Fitting humans with technology to enhance their biological capabilities.
  2. This cyborg is finally @home with:
  3. 1 new hip and 2 new eyes!
  4. Thank you Santa for all these gifts! Merry Xmas!
  5. This is my best portrait with
  6. BFF (best feline friend) Mork (RIP 22.02.2021).



#Total Lockdown….first in Europe against Omicron


  1. The Netherlands is…
  2. …last to start booster program
  3. first in…FULL LOCKDOWN in Europe
  4. 19 Dec – 14 Jan 2022…and probably longer.!
  5. Omicron infections are to double every 1,5-2 days.
  6. Will …Santa be able to visit us?
  7. That is still in doubt…after another year
  8. still NO herd immunity.


News conference last night and our PM Mark Rutte was visibly shaken by the tsunami Omicron that is on the horizon. He said this is The MOST serious moment in the pandemic crisis for us. Health care workers are stretched to the limit and are ready to snap!
Total lockdown started 2 hours ago…here in The Netherlands. Everything…and I mean everything is cancelled.
Let this sink in— worldwide cumulative #Omicron spiked up Upwards arrow 31% in just **one day**. You can try to delude yourself that a slightly “milder” virus won’t kill many people — but only if you lie to yourself about how exponential math works.
PLEASE …anyone not protected…, please get the vaccine!!
I’m cancelling my Xmas dinner with friends (…I had all food ready in freezer and my wine cave was filled to the brim). My vaccine jabs are waning…and my booster ( one of the lucky …to get one!) will kick in as of two weeks after jab on 12 December. The #Omicron wave will hit hospitals hard—pray for doctors, nurses & respiratory therapists over the holidays. #MaskUp #VaxUp #GetBoosted and Stay safe …stay @home.

#Xmas 2021

  1. This is crazy!
  2. I just ordered a Xmas present for my friend in USA
  3. ….estimated time of delivery…22 Nov-08 Dec!!!
  4. Santa Claus better order dubble expresso’s if he is going to survive
  5. the supply chain delays or strikes by postal delivery companies!!
  6. 68 more #XmasShopping days left….

Spring?…it doesn’t feel like it!

Nothing was going to stop me from biking this morning…not even a spot of rain! I covered the camera in plastic, pulled my cap on and connected the IPOD to my audio book. Yes I got wet but the feeling of my leg muscles burning off the pandemic pounds was worth it! Update: 5 week no sugar, coffee, alcohol, buttered toast and jam…
I had a difficult day yesterday…urge for sweets….so grabbed a grapefruit…sweetest thing in the house! Wind mild 8kts (11kph, 7 mph) temp 6 C (42 F). Sun was doing its best…but lost the fight with the clouds!
If you look closely at the previous photo you can see a single bird.…drifting in the water. It is a common merganser (North American) or goosander (Europe)… a large seaduck. It is the first one I’ve seen. I loved the contrast of his beak and ‘crazy hairdo’ with the diagonal lines in the water. You can even see the pearls of water rolling of his back! This has to be my “lucky shot” of the day!
May be art of tree
Covid: 2020…2021 so many things have been cancelled. But one thing is sure: “Spring Cannot Be Cancelled” by David Hockney. Happy First Day of Spring! I could look at this painting for hours!
On turning eighty, David Hockney sought out rustic tranquility for the first time: a place to watch the sunset and the change of the seasons; a place to keep the madness of the world at bay. So when Covid-19 and lockdown struck, it made little difference to life at La Grande Cour, the centuries-old Normandy farmhouse where Hockney set up a studio a year earlier, in time to paint the arrival of spring. In fact, he relished the enforced isolation as an opportunity for even greater devotion to his art.
David Hockney’s new book “Spring Cannot Be Cancelled”  will be published on 27 April 2020 with 142 color illustrations
Decided to take my chances and climb this lookout post. Steps were slippery… but  I got some great photos from this vantage point!
I think this a my “lucky shot” of the day...beautiful duck surrounded by a golden pond. The illusion is … seems the duck is swimming in the reeds not water! Stunning!
This is my “lucky shot” today…the lines of the trees, the perspective... the emerald green grass…and the sun slipped behind some clouds to give the photo a diffused light. The church tower in the distance draws the viewer’s eye, just beautiful! I’ll take this photo again when the trees are in their summer glory. Time now for tea…. I have survived 4 weeks without coffee, sugar and chocolate. That means…just 20 more days….then Lent is over and I can celebrate with a cup of JAVA on Easter!
Celebrated #ReadingIrelandMonth21 hosted by @cathy746books:

March 2021

  1. Poem:  “Still”  – Felicia Olusanya (aka FeliSpeaks)  #ReadingIrelandMonth21
  2. Anseo – Úna-Mingh Kavanaugh  REVIEW  #ReadingIrelandMonth21
  3. Why the Moon Travels– Oein DeBhairduin  REVIEW#ReadingIrelandMonth21
  4. Ulster American – David Ireland  REVIEW  #ReadingIrelandMonth21
  5. Irish Short Stories – J. McGahern, W. Trevor, C. Keegan   REVIEW #ReadingIrelandMonth21
  6. Don’t Touch My Hair – Emma Dabiri    #ReadingIrelandMonth21


And of course….I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in lockdown!

May be an image of one or more people, drink and text that says 'Put some whisky in my coffee because it's Ireland somewhere. som ee cards user card'



Meteorological Spring…

Meteorological Spring today…but it didn’t feel like it! Cold east wind (…damn Russians) that stings my face. The fog has lifted but still it’s 50 shades of grey.


My feet are still frozen from a long bike ride…b/c it was brutal in the winter fog! Temp 0 C wind was clam WNW but still….very cold. Initially I wasn’t going to bike today…but I made a commitment in Lent…daily bike rides with the exception for rain/wind, no need to catch pneumonia!
But here are the REAL die-hards….sitting on the shore with a fishing pole! I was glad I was moving on a bike to keep warm!
This is a typical Frisian Farmhouse…. it looks so gothic, so isolated …in the mistl It is a “Head-Neck-Body farmhouse”: residence (the head) and a kitchen (the neck) placed in line in front of a big shed (the body).
Earlier this week ….I rode by a typical farm raising the famous Holstein Friesians cows…best milk in the world! They are known as the world’s highest-production dairy animals. USA and Holstein Friesians: were introduced into the US from 1621 to 1664. The eastern part of New Netherland (modern day New York and Connecticut), where many Dutch farmers settled along the Hudson and Mohawk River valleys.
No farm in Friesland is without the famous “Stabyhoun” gatekeeper! Boy, this guy had me in his sights the minute I got off the bike to take a picture. #NoNonsenseDog
I promised this would be the year of dogs…so I mustered up the courage to see if the stabyhoun (…I call him Leroy) would agree to some portraits. He’s a tough negotiator! He still stays near the farm…not sure if I know the ‘secret password’ that would allow me to approach.
Just look at that face! This guy means business!
Now the tension is over….Leroy settles down in his ‘waakhond’ (watchdog) mode. He sees I’m not a threat…just an amateur photographer…biking…chasing off the blues, so Leroy let’s me live!
  1. I feel better today after putting yesterday in my memory box.
  2. Met a neighborhood cat in front of the house,
  3. stopped to pet her and got to feel her fur…so soothing.
  4. Yes….It has been a sad couple of days
  5. ….luckily I took this last beautiful picture of Mork on Valentine’s Day.
  1. RIP Mork (2010-2021)
  2. …you have left me so suddenly.
  3. I could not help you anymore.
You were such a great companion
Loyal and true
My heart will always wear
The pawprints left by you.

Well…I’m still here.


I thought the Election in November 2020 would do me in
…then came the Georgia Senate races (2 democratic candidates in a Red state!)
…then came the insurrection on The Capitol 06 January 2021 (….now we learn it was a planned attack)
…then came the decision to BAN Trump from Twitter
then the  Deutsche Bank cut all ties with Trump and Co. Trump owes them 400 million dollars!
…you have to be really shady if DB doesn’t want you as a client.
…Deutsche Bank makes deals with the devil!
…then came the impeachment.

I am a confessed news junkie and must admit scrolling the twitter page
until  0200 AM has taken its toll.
( …the USA news kicks in….just when I should turn off the lights and go to sleep!
I just could not face another  ‘fake’  video message from Trump  before he leaves The White House and turned off the TV.


Good news?  all the above have kick started SPRING CLEANING…and the house is
starting to sparkle.  I must admit I’ve been very lax with household chores.


I was just getting back to some serious reading after the US  Presidential Election tension
…..then 06 January happened. The Insurrection  in Washington D.C. shook me to my core…and felt like the  moments in history that  will leave haunted:  JFK, MLK, Robert Kennedy assassinations and 9/11 attack.
I could not open a book.


So life goes on…Washington DC  looks like the Green Zone in Baghdad  Iraq
…more troops there than in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
…Inauguration  Joe Biden happened without any more violence in DC.
…will the Senate convict Donald Trump for insurrection and citing mob violence?
…of course not.
…January was the deadliest month in USA with 90.000 covid deaths. Let that sink in!!                Sometimes I just cannot bear to turn on the news….but I must.
The nation will get through this but the scars are visible.


Here in The Netherlands... the pandemic continues
The FULL lockdown has been extended for another 3 weeks.
The British variant of the virus is in the country….and people are
afraid it will spread exponentially…as it has done in the UK.
Remember…we get have intense ‘lorry traffic’ between UK and NL  as a port of
entry to the EU for goods and foods.


The NL cabinet has placed us in  a curfew (9 pm – 0430 am) 24 Jan – 09 Feb in an effort to
further cut down on contacts between people and so reduce the spread of the virus.
This is the first time this draconian rule has been implemented since WW II  1945!                                We will hear tomorrow if the curfew will be extended beyond 10 February.                                            Our health guru Jaap van Dissel wants to limit social contacts
given that half the infections with a known source
happen within a household and 36% derive from visits.


So that is just  life in a nutshell. I did manage to   read 5 books in January:

  1. Girl, Woman, Other –  Bernardine Evaristo  – REVIEW
  2. Heads of Colored People – Nafissa Thompson-Spires  (12 short stories)  REVIEW
  3. A Black Women’s  History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry  REVIEW
  4. AI  Superpowers – Kai-Fu Lee – Excellent!  5 star
  5. Society 4.0 – B. de Wit – Review


...but I hope to  get back to regular postings….soon.



  1. It’s time for me to have a break from this ol’ book blog.
  2. … it’s doing my head in and
  3. I need more time to just read and relax.
  4. 2020 was an exhausting year!
  5. I will be updating my Challenges 2021 
  6. …list with my reading progress.
  7. If you want to  reach….I’m still on twitter @nl_burns.
  8. I’ll return in the Spring
  9. …with my books, walks and foto’s!
  10. It’s time to hibernate and #NeedCoffee
  11. Live well, be safe, wear a mask
  12. for the love of all that’s holy
  13. …it’s not too much to ask.



  1. Girl, Woman, Other –  Bernardine Evaristo  – REVIEW
  2. Heads of Colored People – Nafissa Thompson-Spires  (12 short stories)  REVIEW
  3. A Black Women’s  History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry  REVIEW
  4. AI  Superpowers – Kai-Fu Lee – Excellent!  5 star
  5. Society 4.0 – B. de Wit – Review


#2020 Good Riddance!!

  1. Even by dismal standards, it has been a shocker of a year.
  2. Pandemic, lockdowns, economic slump, apocalyptic wildfires
  3. …in Australia and USA and the most divisive
  4. …bitter US election in living memory


But it is time to think  of 2021…

  1. You can always stay connected via:
  2. Twitter: @nl_burns



  1. Brona @Bronasbooks for #AusReadingMonth21 (November)
  2. Karen @Books and Chocolate #BackToTheClassics 2021
  3. #BlackHistoryMonth (February)
  4. Cathy @746Books  #ReadingIrelandMonth21 (March)
  5. #NationalBookAward 2019 -2020 (winners and finalists)
  6. #PoetryMonth (April)
  7. #DutchLiterature (8 NF books I hope will be translated soon…)
  8. #AWW2021  @AustralianWomen WritersChallenge
  9. #TheEdithReadalong2021 @BronasBooks  (November)
  10. #NonFicNov  (non-fiction weeks) (November)
  11. #NovNov @746Books (novella) (November)


  1. So it is time to hit the reset button
  2. …and finally enjoy the long-awaited  2021.
  3. Here is my challenge 2021 reading list .
  4. Here is my monthly planning 2021
  5. Happy New Year 2021!