Sunday Salon | 28 April 2019

Happy Avengers: Endgame weekend! I will not be seeing it until tomorrow and am so excited I can’t find the words. Which is a situation I hope will change as I’m obviously intending to write about it afterwards.

Anyway, to this week’s book stuff.

Books read:

25903764Only one finished this week, and that was a graphic novel which I must have bought ages ago and forgot all about and then found on my Comixology app when I wanted something light-ish to read. So, Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier tells the story of Catrina and her family who move to Northern California to help her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis and the climate in Bahía de la Luna will be beneficial. They find out that there are ghosts in the town, attracted by the same things that will help Maya. Cat is not at all happy about this……  This is a lovely and moving book, beautifully illustrated and dealing with some difficult subjects such as illness and death in a positive and accessible way. I loved it.

New books:

Ragged Alice by Gareth L Powell – a pre-order – “Orphaned at an early age, DCI Holly Craig grew up in the small Welsh coastal town of Pontyrhudd. As soon as she was old enough, she ran away to London and joined the police. Now, fifteen years later, she’s back in her old hometown to investigate what seems at first to be a simple hit-and-run, but which soon escalates into something far deadlier and unexpectedly personal—something that will take all of her peculiar talents to solve.”

The Migration by Helen Marshall – according to Amazon this is “creepy & atmospheric” and “evocative of Pet Sematary” – “When I was younger I didn’t know a thing about death. I thought it meant stillness, a body gone limp. A marionette with its strings cut. Death was like a long vacation – a going away” – you can tell there’s a “but” coming, can’t you?

Images & Shadows: Part of a Life by Iris Origo – I’ve become mildly obsessed by Iris, and in addition to her two volumes of war diaries (which I’m sure I’ve mentioned before) I couldn’t resist this autobiography.

Currently reading:

The books I’m actively reading are both titles I’ve defintely referred to before, namely the biography of Iris Origo by Caroline Moorehead which is hugely enjoyable and feeding the obsession I mentioned above, and Sadie by Courtney Summers which I’ve only just started but looks very promising indeed.

Hope you have a great week, whether you are avenging or not 😀

My Reading Week (or two….)

I haven’t posted for 10 days or so even though I have a lot to say about stuff, so I thought I’d pop in and say hello and catch you up with what I’ve been reading and buying and so forth. I don’t even have a picture for the top of this post: so sorry but I’m sure we’ll all get over it 🙂

Books finished:

  • Currently by Sarah Mensinga
  • Kill You Twice by Chelsea Cain
  • The Bone Key by Sarah Monette

It’s good when you get a run of really enjoyable books. Proper reviews will follow shortly, assuming I can get my act together.

New Books: all of these are ebooks and/or impulse purchases unless otherwise stated.

It’s OK To Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmort – “This isn’t a cancer story. It’s a love story. Twenty-something Nora bounced from boyfriend to dopey ‘boyfriend’ until she met Aaron – a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who made her laugh. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo.” I have listened to Nora’s stand in as co-host on TBTL, one of my favourite podcasts, and fins her engaging and funny and moving, so I’m very much looking forward to reading this.

Saturday’s Child by Deborah Burns – “An only child, Deborah Burns grew up in prim 1950s America in the shadow of her beautiful, unconventional, rule-breaking mother, Dorothy—a red-haired beauty who looked like Rita Hayworth and skirted norms with a style and flare that made her the darling of men and women alike. Married to the son of a renowned Italian family with ties to the underworld, Dorothy fervently eschewed motherhood and domesticity, turning Deborah over to her spinster aunts to raise while she was the star of a vibrant social life. As a child, Deborah revered her charismatic mother, but Dorothy was a woman full of secrets with a troubled past—a mistress of illusion whose love seemed just out of her daughter’s grasp.” Sounds fascinating.

Illness as a Metaphor & AIDS and it’s Metaphors by Susan Sontag – I have been listening to past episodes of This Podcast Will Kill You which is a fascinating examination of disease, and the two Erins who present the show made mention of this book in their episode on HIV. So here we are.

Let Me Go by Chelsea Cain – this is the sixth and, as far as I can see final, final instalment of the Archie Sheridan & Gretchen Lowell serial killer novels. I’ve only just finished book number 5 (see books read above) and I don’t know what I’ll do when it’s all over. I shall be bereft. The plots are getting dafter and Gretchen is virtually superhuman but they are SO enjoyable

Shorter Days by Anna Katharina Hahn – translated from german and set in Stuttgart this is all about how “[o]ver the course of a few days, Judith and Leonie’s apparently stable, successful lives are thrown into turmoil by the secrets they keep, the pressures they’ve been keeping at bay, and the waves of change lapping at the peaceful shores of their existence.” I picked this up following a review by my blog chum Jinjer.

The Half Man by Anne Billson – as well as a fabulous film critic and excellent person to follow on Twitter, Anne has also written a number of horror novels and this is her latest, more of a supernatural thriller I think. Purchased because it’s a good thing to support people you like who create things.

Frock Consciousness – an actual physical book from the London Review of Books which collects writing about clothes from their publication.

And finally, my single pre-order – If, Then by Kate Hope Day – “In a sleepy Oregon town at the base of a dormant volcano, four neighbours find their lives upended when they see visions of themselves in an alternate reality, and have to question the choices they’ve made as natural disaster looms.

Currently reading:

Caroline Moorehead’s biography of Iris Origo, which I’ve just started and is very readable.

Hope you all have a wonderful reading week!

Captain Marvel

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Captain Marvel  was one of the films I was most looking forward to in 2019. But what’s it all about, you ask, next to the rock from under which you have just crawled.

Well, according to IMDb:

Carol Danvers becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.

Does she though? I mean, at the start of the film she is already one of the universe’s most powerful heroes and her connection to Earth is tenuous at best. But I quibble, of course, because that’s what I do.

So, I went into this film with high expectations which were not only met but exceeded. I wish films like this had been around when I was a girl (which was a very long time ago let me tell you) but I am so very glad they’re here now.

This is an origin story with a twist. As I mentioned above, Carole Danvers is already hugely powerful but is living under the impression that she is something she is not. When the events of the film bring her to Earth and cut her off from her team, she teams up with Nick Fury (for it is he) and slowly begins to piece together her past, what happened to her and that rather than being supported, she is being held back by the race she has inadvertently become a part of. The relationships in this story are hugely important, not only with Fury but with her best friend Maria and Maria’s daughter Monica, and those relationships which give her the means to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Oh, and there is Goose; a very, very special cat.

Brie Larson is excellent in the lead role, with just the right balance of vulnerability and strength. The special effects are of course really well done, especially the process used to make Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg younger versions of themselves, the aliens are all brilliant and there is added Annette Bening, which is always a good thing.

Ignore the small group of haters on social media; I love this, and can’t wait to see Captain Marvel in the new Avengers movie. Not long now 😀

Directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck | 2h 3m running time | 12A for moderate fantasy violence and implied strong language.

 

 

A List

2757569A list of my favourite extracts from L’art de la Liste, as mentioned in my most recent post. Italics are my comments, ditto any bold emphases  🙂

Also please note I did not read this in the original French. I took my French Higher back in 1978 and have managed to forget it all since then!

  • [M]aking systems is a way to make meaning, to back up your memory, to refresh it, and to live in a more intense way.
  • The list is the most concise form of expression available to us. But, paradoxically, its elliptical nature allows us to be as exhaustive as possible.
  • Do it, don’t procrastinate. (Doing nothing is the most time-consuming thing in the world. Doing things takes far less time.)
  • If you make lists, you’ll only have to update them. [not start afresh every time]
  • What a shame it is to lose the memory of certain meals. Generally, we don’t write down what we eat, even if we keep a diary, and yet special meals can form some of the best moments of our lives. Recording the place, the food, the wine and the people present is a way of rekindling these exceptional memories. [better than taking a photograph of your food; probably]
  • Make a list of what needs to be done in each room. This will help you psychologically. You’ll have so much more energy in a tidy, well-kept room. Time spent on housework is never wasted, whatever some people may think. [that would be me]
  • In order to get to know yourself better, and to preserve the ‘traces’ of yourself – which is better than keeping objects or photos – make your own ‘almanac’. The best way to do this is by keeping lists. We are one and we are multitudes. We are our true self, and we are the different selves we become in the presence of others, according to who they are and where we are…
  • For your next birthday, why not write yourself a list of all the things you would rather never do again. Self-awareness comes with age, but so too does the knowledge that we won’t live forever.
  • It is therefore wise only to write down what you want to happen, not what you don’t want to happen, because to write is to change the course of events.
  • In difficult times – in times of tension and crisis, whether personal or public – the most important thing is to remain centred and to keep your calm. Not to allow yourself to be influenced or swept away by circumstances, however dramatic these may be, or by negative energies or emotions. This is by no means an easy task. But in trying times, turn inward. 
  • By gaining greater awareness, you will be able to do what you want with your thoughts, with your days and with your life. This power is lying dormant inside you. You can awaken it by making lists.
  • […] the most important books aren’t the ones we read. They’re the ones we reread
  • But whatever the subject of our lists, the most important thing is always to keep them.

My Reading Week… | … and the art of the list

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3764I didn’t do a huge amount of reading this week as I was working on other projects, including learning how to use the new software package which is going to help me sort out all of my family history research gathered over decades (I think I started in the late 1980s) and which needs to be collated so that I can start to work on it again now that I am retired and have the time.

So let’s get into the details:

Currently Reading – at the moment I’m reading Currently by Sarah Mensinga which I mentioned in last week’s round-up. I’m about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it; I just need to find a slot long enough for me to finish it in a single session.

New books – of course it wouldn’t be my weekly round-up without new books to add to the TBR pile – though it should be noted that in sorting some things out around the house I found another little pile of books to be donated to local charity shops, so I think there was no net gain on my part.

Anyway:

The Luminous Dead * Caitlin Starling – a pre-order – A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

Wicked Saints * Emily A Duncan –  a pre-order – A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

Wakenhyrst * Michelle Paver – a pre-order – In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father. When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone * Lori Gottlieb – non-fiction – As a therapist, Lori knows a lot about pain, about the ways in which pain is tied to loss, and how change and loss travel together. She knows how affirming it feels to blame the outside world for her frustrations, to deny ownership of whatever role she might have in the existential play called My Incredibly Important Life. When a devastating event takes place in Lori’s life, she realises that, before being able to help her patients, she must first learn how to help herself.

Heart Talk * Cleo Wade – I’m a support of Cindy Guentert-Baldo on Patreon and subscribe to her YouTube channel which covers art, lettering, planning and living with chronic illness. She is awesome, and occasionally hosts a book club. Heart Talk is her choice for April and is “A beautifully illustrated book from Cleo Wade—the artist, poet, and speaker who has been called “the Millennial Oprah” by New York Magazine—that offers creative inspiration and life lessons through poetry, mantras, and affirmations

Growing Pains * Emily Carr – Completed just before Emily Carr died in 1945, Growing Pains tells the story of Carr’s life, beginning with her girlhood in pioneer Victoria and going on to her training as an artist in San Francisco, England and France. Also here is the frustration she felt at the rejection of her art by Canadians, of the years of despair when she stopped painting.

Hundreds & Thousands * Emily Carr – Emily Carr’s journals from 1927 to 1941 portray the happy, productive period when she was able to resume painting after dismal years of raising dogs and renting out rooms to pay the bills. These revealing entries convey her passionate connection with nature, her struggle to find her voice as a writer, and her vision and philosophy as a painter.

The last two books on the list were bought as a result of my finishing L’art de la Liste by Dominique Loreau, a wonderful book which I absolutely loved. I have always been someone who makes lists, mostly of things to be done, packing lists, projects and to-dos, but this book takes the idea of a list further, and looks at it on a philosophical basis, as something that can help with spiritual and personal growth. The author is French but heavily influenced by Japanese culture. Much more philosophical than I had expected, this book gave me a lot to think about. Already considering the additional lists I am going to make!

And finally………

When your husband knows exactly what to get you as a belated extra birthday present 😀

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My Reading Week | 31 March

IMG_0818So here we are already at the end of March and another reading week has passed. How did I do?

Books finished = a big fat ZERO.

I set aside the book about Sandra Day O’Connor & Ruth Bader Ginsburg because constitutional law and politics in general is just stressful for me (as for many other people here in the UK) at the moment, but I will come back to it later in the year as RBG in particular is a remarkable and fascinating woman.

I gave the Jo Nesbo book the 50 pages test, and at that point realised that not only was I not enjoying the book, I didn’t care about any of the people or any of the events taking place, and as life is short and there are so many other books to read it had to stop. It’s going in the donation pile.

I’m currently reading two much better and more interesting books. Currently by Sarah Mensinga is a really good fantasy novel set in a world apparently inspired by early 20th century ocean travel; I’m enjoying it very much. L’art de la Liste is light reading of the best kind and I have marked up so many quotes in my Kindle app that it’s almost multi-coloured.

After the monumental book haul covered in my last post, we will all be relieved to note that only one additional book made it onto my Kindle this week:

  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing – the blurb asks in giant shouty capitals “HOW WELL DO YOU REALLY KNOW THE ONE YOU LOVE THE MOST?” Apparently, also according to the blurb, I might think I’ve read stories like this before but I would be wrong. I have taken this as a personal challenge.

In other stuff it’s been a quiet week with just one outing, which was once again to Sadler’s Wells. If you follow me on social media you will have seen me post a picture of my programme for Northern Ballet’s Victoria. This was a dark and intense work looking back at Victoria’s life via the process of her daughter Princess Beatrice reading, editing and in some cases censoring her mother’s diaries. Enjoyed it very much indeed.

So, here’s to another month of interesting books. Hope you have a great reading week!