Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

Gimme Five August 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — matamich @ 9:34 pm
Tags: , , ,

Random Creative Writing Challenge (Just for fun):

 Trace the journey of a five dollar bill through the lives of five different owners.  What was exchanged during the transactions?  How much (or how little) did the transaction mean to each of the people involved?

I wrote this several years ago.

 Gimme Five

(Copyright Micheline Harvey)

Jean-Yves walked briskly across the busy intersection, dodging between the random cabs, rummaging through his pocket for his cell phone and looking at his watch. He was running late. Again. This was going to be a huge deal, he couldn’t really afford to piss off the client, not this time, so he thought that a bit of his trademark sweet talk might just fix things. He certainly knew his way around secretaries and receptionists, for so many had fallen prey to his charms. If only he could find his stupid cell phone and dial the client’s number, he was sure he could buy himself another 30 minutes or so.

He finally located the damn thing, wondering why they keep making them so tiny! He did not like the old, clunky, cumbersome cell phones from way back, but he DID like something that had at least some weight in his hand. Something that did not get lost at the bottom of his pockets so easily! As he pulled it out, avoided getting his expensive suit splashed by an impatient driver, cupped his family jewels quickly – just to check – and prepared his most sultry, sweet and low voice to charm the panties off the girl who answered all the incoming calls to MADISON, DRAKE, LLOYD & ASSOCIATES, a folded five dollar bill fell out of his pocket, fluttered out in front of him, swirled up in the whoosh of wind of a passing city bus and blew away, too fast for him to try to catch it.

Oh well, he shrugged, what’s five bucks when you make as much money as I do and are about to close the deal of the decade?

And so Jean-Yves hustled on to his appointment, speaking in hushed, syrupy tones into his teeny tiny high tech cell phone as his five dollar bill made its way down the street.

***

Giselle hiked the baby up higher on her hip, pulled on her purse strap and tried to untangle the many bags she was hauling with a single hand. She frowned, thinking that she’d only been a few dollars short and was unable to get her husband Steve’s big bag of veggie chips he liked so much. They were struggling a bit since the baby, and since little Trey had been basically her idea, she hated when his diapers, formula and baby food took anything away from Steve. Her husband did not ask for much, and he had not been ready for a baby. He kept telling Giselle that they should wait, just a couple of years, for him to get a raise and her to find a job. Instead, she had stopped taking the pill without telling him and presented Steve with the fait accompli. He had freaked out a little, but had been nothing but supportive throughout her entire pregnancy, taking on extra shifts and doing odd jobs on the weekends in order to be able to get her anything she wanted, or needed.

The baby sneezed, dousing her entire left shoulder with snot and drool and broke out in a curious little giggle, bouncing up and down on her sore hip and stretching out his little hand.

Giselle could not figure out what he was reaching for, until she realized that little Trey had found a five dollar bill, stuck in the branches of a thick shrub!

That’s my baby boy, she thought, smiling. Giselle looked around to see if anyone seemed to be looking for a missing bill and, seeing no one, she slipped it into her bag and headed back to the grocery store to get Steve a bag of his favorite chips.

***

Kat made a funny face at the baby in the woman’s arms as she bagged her purchase and handed her the change from her five dollar bill. The baby yelled, laughed, vibrated against his mother’s shoulder and let a long strand of bubbly drool fall onto the conveyer belt that led to the cash register. Kat wrinkled her nose as she fished around for the paper towels to wipe it off.

Kat’s period was ten days late. She was NEVER late. She was like fucking clockwork. She zoned out and flashed back to the night of the bonfire and how her boyfriend Luke didn’t have any rubbers. How she had drank one too many beers and felt all loose and lovely and loving. How she let him stick it inside her “just a little”. How she was so sure that he had not pulled out in time like he said he did. She eyed the rolly polly drooly little boy and thought that she was way too young to deal with having a baby. She closed her eyes for a couple of seconds and prayed for her period to start. Just. Please. Start.

The woman pulled Kat out of her reverie by asking her to give her a five dollar bill in exchange for a fistful of loose change she had just discovered at the bottom of her purse. Kat counted out the pennies, dimes and quarters and handed the same fiver she’d just put in the register back to the woman who smiled, picked up her numerous bags, and left, baby bouncing on her hip.

***

“Here’s the five dollars I’ve owed you forever…” said Giselle, as she put the baby in his playpen and set the bags on the kitchen counter.

“Oh, and I got you your chips.” She smiled, thinking of the luck of finding a wayward five dollar bill AND discovering as much in change in her purse after the transaction. Not only could she get Steve his beloved chips, but she could pay back a pesky little debt that had been nagging her for a couple of weeks. Having no income was a bitch.

Steve took the five dollar bill, smiled and kissed Giselle.

“You can keep this, honey. I don’t expect you to pay me back.” He said, handing it back to her.

“No way. For once I can pay you back. Please, leave me this small pleasure.” Said Giselle, tucking the bill into Steve’s pocket and copping a feel of his butt at the same time.

***

Joe sat on the corner, bundled up in too many layers of smelly old clothes, his dog Bugger by his side, holding up his empty coffee mug to beg for money. This was a pretty busy corner. He usually made enough money for dog food, McDonald’s and the upkeep of his drinking problem. Some people did not even look at him, other’s tossed in a couple of quarters. Mostly, he got one dollar bills. But sometimes, when he was lucky, some generous soul would fold a fiver into his mug.

Joe sometimes remembered, through an alcoholic haze, the years when he was a successful businessman. When he had a family, a wife and two really good looking kids. When he thought about this, he’d smile, until he started to remember his drinking, and what it made him do. Joe lost his values, lost his wife, lost the respect of his kids, lost his business and ended up on the street. Joe was now only a shadow of his former self. Five dollars would help him feed Bugger. Five dollars would keep him alive one more day…or give him that buzz he craved so much. Joe smiled, revealing two missing front teeth, and held his mug up high.

***

Standing out in front of the expensive sushi restaurant where he’d just had lunch with the sexy receptionist from MADISON, DRAKE, LLOYD & ASSOCIATES,  Jean-Yves glanced over at the homeless wino sitting in a smelly lump and begging for money. He turned his nose up and sneered, in disgust, thinking that he’d NEVER, EVER in a million years give money to people like that. They were pathetic. All they needed was a swift kick in the ass. Although he had more than enough money for several lifetimes, he would never even consider giving them one, red cent.

Little did he know…the folded five dollar bill that was just placed into the beggar’s mug by Steve, as he made his way to work, was the one that flew out of his pocket, that very morning.

THE END

 

THE LAST SONG/LA DERNIERE CHANSON June 12, 2010

The Last song (Nicholas Sparks)

Seventeen year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Miller’s life was turned upside down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

Ronnie has been estranged from her father for three years. As many teens, she also has a difficult relationship with her mother. Her life is ruled by the anger and resentment that consume her. Her mother decides that it would be best for everyone if Ronnie and her younger brother spend the summer with their dad who is living a quiet life as a piano teacher in his little beach town and is busy creating a work of art for the local church.

Resentful and rebellious, Ronnie threatens to go back to New York before the summer’s end but then soon meets the local heartthrob, slowly lets her guard down and opens herself up to discover love and the greatest happiness and pain she has ever known.

Anyone with a teenage girl or who has known one can relate to Ronnie’s attitude, her reactions and the fact that the very last thing she wants to be doing is spending the summer with her father whom she has effectively pushed away. Ronnie is also struggling with her identity, with who she truly is and what she wants to do with her life, and making all the wrong decisions. As she is pushed out of her comfort zone and into a place where she has no choice but to be a part of the community in some way or another, she discovers things about her family and herself that she had long forgotten, learns how to let others in and takes a crucial step toward maturity.

Nicholas Sparks is a master at tugging at the heartstrings and knows exactly how to convey a true emotion through his writing. He also has a sensitivity that is very female, in my opinion. This man must have grown up among sisters or he’s very much in tune with his feminine side. There is some predictability in this story and his others, but they are well told. It is relatively hard to move me to tears when reading a novel, but his books always seem to make me cry.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

***

La dernière chanson (Nicholas Sparks)

La vie de Veronica « Ronnie » Miller est bouleversée lorsque ses parents divorcent et que son père quitte New York pour s’installer à Wrightsville, en Caroline du Nord.

Ronnie est en froid avec son père depuis maintenant trois ans. Comme la plupart des adolescentes, elle a aussi une relation difficile avec sa mère. Sa vie est régie par la colère et le ressentiment qui la consument. Sa mère décide alors qu’il serait bon pour tout le monde si Ronnie et son jeune frère passaient l’été avec leur père dans son petit village au bord de l’eau où il passe son temps à donner des leçons de piano et travailler sur la production d’un œuvre pour l’église locale. Rebelle avec la rancune au cœur, Ronnie menace de retourner immédiatement à New York mais fait alors la rencontre d’un beau jeune home du coin, laisse tomber ses mécanismes de défense et s’ouvre à l’amour ainsi qu’à la plus grande joie, et ultimement, à la plus grande peine de sa vie.

Quiconque est le parent d’une adolescente, ou qui connaît une adolescente, peut s’identifier à l’attitude de Ronnie, ses réactions et le fait que de passer l’été avec son père qu’elle a repoussé est bien la dernière chose qu’elle veut faire. Ronnie se bat aussi pour découvrir sa propre identité, apprendre qui elle est vraiment et ce qu’elle veut faire de sa vie. Poussée hors de sa zone de confort, elle n’a pas de choix que de faire partie de cette petite communauté et de participer. Elle découvre alors des vérités à propos de sa famille et d’elle-même, retrouve des souvenirs profondément enfouis et apprend à évoluer vers une véritable maturité.

Nicholas Sparks est passé maître dans l’art de tirer les ficelles du cœur dans ses écrits et sait très bien comment rendre une véritable émotion sur papier. Il possède également une sensibilité quasi féminine, selon moi. Il a sans doute été élevé avec plusieurs sœurs ou alors il est très proche de son côté féminin. Ce roman, comme ses autres, est très prévisible et un peu à l’eau de rose, mais l’histoire est bien racontée. Il est difficile de me toucher profondément avec un livre mais les romans de Sparks réussissent toujours à me tirer quelques larmes.

Je donne 4 étoiles sur 5 à ce roman.

 

Handle with care (Jodi Picoult) December 28, 2009

When you are expecting a baby, all you really want is for it to be healthy.  Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for just that had they been given the chance. Instead, their lives are made up of endless worrying, sleepless nights, medical bills and the pitying stares of other parents. They are also plagued with the “what ifs”. Willow, despite her condition, is a delightful child. She’s smart, pretty, loving, courageous and incredibly wise for a 5 year old. Willow is who she is, despite her osteogenesis imperfecta. Willow’s bones are so fragile that just holding her can break her ribs, a mere fall can cause an arm or leg fracture and a normal life is simply out of the question.

They learn to cope with Willow’s illness and to compensate. They learn to accept and deal. But when a series of events leads them to wonder what they might have decided if they had been given the chance to let Willow be born this way or not, the entire family bond is shaken and twisted, tested and challenged.

This is another wonderful, difficult and thought provoking book about the fragility of life and just how far we will go to protect it.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

***

Handle with care (Jodi Picoult)*

Lorsque vous attendez un enfant, ce que vous voulez par-dessus tout c’est qu’il soit en santé. C’est ce que Charlotte et Sean O’Keefe auraient décidé s’ils en avaient eu la chance. Au lieu de cela, leur vie est maintenant faite de craintes, soucis, nuits blanches, frais médicaux et de la pitié des autres parents. Ils sont aussi assaillis par les moments de “et si seulement…”. Malgré sa condition, Willow est une enfant charmante. Elle est intelligente, jolie, affectueuse, courageuse et très sage du haut de ses 5 ans. Willow est une petite fille à part entière, malgré son ostéogénèse imparfaite. Ses os sont si fragiles que le simple fait de la serrer dans nos bras peut lui fracturer les côtes. Une petite chute tout à fait banale peut lui causer une fracture du bras ou de la jambe, et tout espoir d’une vie normale est oublié.

Ils apprennent à vivre avec la maladie de Willow et à compenser. Ils apprennent à accepter et à y faire face. Mais, lorsqu’une série d’événements les amènent à se demander ce qu’ils auraient fait s’ils avaient eu la chance de décider si Willow verrait le jour ou non, la fondation même de cette famille est ébranlée, testée et mise au défi.

Il s’agit d’un autre roman à la fois merveilleux et difficile qui nous porte à réfléchir à propos de la fragilité de la vie et de ce qu’on est prêt à faire pour la protéger.

Je donne à ce roman 4 sur 5 étoiles.

*J’ignore si la version traduite de ce livre est disponible au moment où j’écris ces lignes.

 

Plain Truth – La pure vérité by/par Jodi Picoult September 2, 2009

Plain Truth (Jodi Picoult)

The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn’s mother, took the child’s life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide – and for the first time in her high profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live “plain”, Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within – to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past re-enters her life. (Source: Washington Square Press).

This story, inspired by the many cases of young women giving birth in secret after concealing their pregnancies and then abandoning or possibly even harming the baby, has an even more intriguing twist, as it is set in an Amish context. Various psychological aspects are touched in this poignant story, to the point where the reader no longer knows what to believe. Denial, anguish, being different and yet belonging, freedom, love, the realisation that things have gone too far and the fear that there is no way out, all this is described and told with talent, compassion and a true understanding of the Amish people. The ups and downs of the trial are set against the many changes in the life of the attorney who must defend the young girl who is accused of killing her own baby.

Another thought provoking Jodi Picoult masterpiece.

 

I rate this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

***

La pure vérité (Jodi Picoult)

La découverte d’un bébé mort dans la grange d’une famille Amish va violemment secouer le comté de Lancaster. Mais l’enquête policière révèle quelque chose d’encore plus étonnant: des preuves qui laissent croire que ce serait Katie Fisher, une jeune femme célibataire de 18 ans de la communauté Amish, qui serait la mère de cet enfant et qui l’aurait tué. Lorsque Ellie Hathaway, une avocate désillusionnée de la grande ville arrive à Paradise, Pennsylvanie pour assurer la défense de Katie, leurs deux cultures se rencontrent, et pour la première fois dans son éminente carrière, Ellie doit faire face à un système de justice qui est bien différent du sien. Forcée à se plonger au cœur de la vie “ordinaire” des Amish, Ellie doit trouver comment atteindre Katie et, alors qu’elle tente de comprendre ce cas complexe de meurtre, Ellie doit également regarder tout au fond d’elle-même et confronter ses propres peurs et désirs lorsqu’un homme issu de son passé resurgit dans sa vie. (Traduction libre de la Source: Washington Square Press).

Cette histoire, inspirée par les nombreux cas de jeunes filles dissimulant leur grossesse pour ensuite abandonner ou se débarrasser de leur bébé a une tournure encore plus intrigante puisqu’elle se passe dans un contexte Amish. On visite une panoplie d’aspects psychologiques complexes dans cette émouvante histoire, à un point tel que le lecteur ne sait plus ce qu’il doit croire. Le déni, le désespoir, le fait d’être différent tout en faisant partie d’une communauté de gens, la liberté, l’amour, la réalisation subite que les choses sont allées trop loin et qu’il n’y a plus d’issue, tout ceci est décrit et raconté avec talent, compassion et une véritable compréhension de la communauté Amish. Les hauts et les bas du procès se jouent en parallèle avec les changements dans la vie de l’avocate qui doit défendre la jeune fille accusée d’avoir tué son propre bébé.

Un autre chef d’œuvre de Jodi Picoult qui nous porte à réfléchir.

Je donne 4.5 étoiles sur 5 à ce roman.

 

Devil Bones – Kathy Reichs August 4, 2009

Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

A plumber stumbles upon a forgotten cellar in Charlotte, North Carolina in a house under renovation and makes a disturbing discovery: animal and human remains, including a teenage girl’s skull, cauldrons and religious artefacts, all arranged in a gruesome display. Dismembered bodies start showing up, and washing up, carved with pentagrams and strange symbols. Panic over Satanism and witchcraft ensues, led by an evangelical politician. For Dr. Temperance Brennan, nothing is clear, not even her own heart as she finds herself estranged from her departed lover. As she digs deeper into the alarming evidence found in the gruesome cellar, she will unearth the truth – darker and more frightening than she ever imagined.

Kathy Reichs strikes again, with her vivid descriptions of frightening remains, and strange goings-on in and around Charlotte, North Carolina. Her quick sense of humour and self deprecating remarks are particularly sharp in this novel, as her main character finds herself more on her own since the sexy Detective Ryan is somewhat out of the picture. Her flaws float to the surface as she tries to resolve this dark mystery. The formula is much the same as in all her other novels. I just happen to appreciate the genre and the macabre side of Dr. Brennan and Ms. Reichs’s line of work. This is a thoroughly enjoyable summer read and another best seller for one of my favourite authors.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

***

Devil Bones par Kathy Reichs*

Un plombier fait une découverte pour le moins dérangeante dans le sous-sol d’une maison en travaux: des ossements animaux et humains, incluant le crâne d’une jeune adolescente, des marmites de sorcières et des artefacts religieux de toutes sortes, étalés de manière terrifiante. Des corps démembrés se mettent alors à apparaître et à s’échouer, tailladés de pentagrammes et de symboles étranges. Une panique générale s’ensuit à propos des rumeurs de satanisme et de sorcellerie, le tout moussé par un politicien et leader évangélique ultra conventionnel. Pour le Dr Temperance Brennan, rien n’est clair, pas même ses propres sentiments alors qu’elle se retrouve au cœur de cette histoire et loin de son amoureux. En cherchant des réponses à ces horribles découvertes dans le sous-sol de la maison, elle trouvera finalement la vérité – plus sombre et plus effrayante que tout ce qu’elle aurait pu imaginer.

Kathy Reichs récidive avec ses descriptions vivantes de restes humains et d’événements bizarres à Charlotte en Caroline du Nord. Son sens de la répartie, son humour et sa capacité d’autodérision sont tous très présents dans ce roman alors que l’héroïne se retrouve seule après le départ du séduisant détective Ryan. Confrontée à elle-même, ses faiblesses remontent à la surface alors qu’elle tente de résoudre ce sombre mystère. La formule de ce roman est très semblable à tous ses autres romans mais j’aime bien ce style d’écriture et ce genre d’histoire. J’apprécie le côté macabre du travail du Dr Brennan et de Ms. Reichs. Ce roman est très divertissant, plein de rebondissements et une bonne lecture estivale. Un autre meilleur vendeur d’une de mes auteures préférées.

Je donne 4 étoiles sur 5 à ce livre.

*J’ignore si ce roman est traduit en français déjà.

 

Deep Fathom – James Rollins June 18, 2009

Deep Fathom by James Rollins

Ex Navy Seal Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find the Earth burning. Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. Air Force One has vanished from the skies with America’s president on board. Now, with the U.S. on the narrow brink of a nuclear apocalypse, Kirkland must pilot his oceangoing exploration ship, Deep Fathom, on a desperate mission, miles below the ocean’s surface where devastating secrets await him – and a power an ancient civilization could not contain has been cast out into modern day. And it will forever alter a world that’s already racing toward its own destruction.

I was introduced to the writings of James Rollins by my brother. He is quite good at the action and adventure format and is able to create characters that come across as gritty, honest and brutally real.

This book is an entertaining thriller and a nice break from your regular reading if you are the type to go for very intense and emotional stories.

I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

***

Deep Fathom par James Rollins*

Jack Kirkland, un ex Seal de la marine américaine, remonte à la surface après une mission de récupération brusquement avortée pour constater que la terre entière est entrain de brûler. Des flammes solaires ont déclenché une gargantuesque série de désastres naturels. Tremblements de terre et incendies incontrôlés affectent toute la planète. L’avion du président, Air Force One, a disparu des radars. Tandis que le monde entier est au bord du désastre nucléaire, Kirkland doit piloter son engin d’exploration sous-marine, Deep Fathom, vers une mission plusieurs kilomètres sous la surface de la mer où de dangereux secrets l’attendent et où un pouvoir qui n’a pu être contenu par une civilisation ancienne est subitement libéré sur notre ère moderne, transformant pour toujours notre monde déjà bien engagé sur le chemin de l’apocalypse.

C’est mon frère qui m’a fait découvrir les écrits de James Rollins qui est très doué dans le genre action et aventure. Ses personnages sont bruts, réels et d’une surprenante honnêteté.

Un bon roman de divertissement et une pause appréciée si vous êtes du genre à lire beaucoup de récits intenses et pleins d’émotions.

Je donne 3.5 étoiles sur 5 à ce livre.

*J’ignore si ce roman est traduit en français mais plusieurs des romans de Rollins le sont.

 

Songs of the Humpback Whale June 2, 2009

Jane Jones has lived in the shadow of her husband, renowned oceanographer Oliver Jones, for years. One heated argument and an alarming reaction on her part send her on a cross-country trip with her teenage daughter Rebecca charted by letters from Jane’s brother Joley and guiding them to him. This will turn out to be a soul searching journey and a self discovery trip, while Oliver searches for his wife and child and finds a new way to see his life: through Jane’s eyes. This is a novel in voices that touches on relationships on many levels and shows how our past can deeply colour our present and future. It is interesting to read the same events and situations through 5 different points of view and you feel as if you are along for the trip.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

http://www.jodipicoult.com/songs-humpback-whale.html#cover

***

Jane Jones a toujours vécu dans l’ombre de son mari, l’océanographe célèbre Oliver Jones. Après une violente dispute et une réaction alarmante de sa part, Jane prend la fuite avec sa fille adolescente pour un périple guidé par les lettres de son frère, Joley, les guidant vers lui. Ce voyage en sera un d’introspection et de découverte de soi, tandis qu’Oliver cherche sa femme et sa fille et découvre lui aussi une nouvelle façon de voir sa vie : à travers les yeux de sa femme. Il s’agit d’un roman à 5 narrateurs qui touche les relations interpersonnelles à plusieurs niveaux et nous démontre à quel point notre passé peut colorer notre présent et notre avenir. Il est intéressant de lire le récit de mêmes événements et situations à travers 5 points de vue différents. On a l’impression de faire partie du voyage.

Je donne 4 étoiles sur 5 à ce roman.

http://www.jodipicoult.com/songs-humpback-whale.html#cover

*J’ignore si la version traduite en français est disponible.