Sunday Salon | 20 January

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So here we are, within spitting distance of the end of the first month of the year. An unpleasant image perhaps, but one that is sticking with me for now as I get excited about my birthday – more about that no doubt in my next Salon post.

But what about the books!?

Books read

Yes, I have finally finished a book! Not one that I expected to read at all but it caught my fancy and I’ll be writing about it soon – Notes from the Underwire by Quinn Cummings.

Currently reading

Still reading Global Crisis – I’ve hit the two chapters about the Civil Wars and the Stuart monarchy which I already know quite a lot about, so familiarity is holding me back a bit though I’m assured by the Book God that the author has much that is new to share

I’ve made quite a bit of progress with City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, and will try to finish it this week. It’s a chunkster but a very enjoyable one. Also started watching the Tv adaptation of the first novel in the trilogy, The Passage, which is so far very promising.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – if you read my book haul post from earlier this week you will know that I can’t resist this sort of book. I’ve had this volume for ages and had always planned to read it this month, so anyone who accuses me of jumping on the KonMari bandwagon will be given a Very Hard Stare.

I am stuck with The Behaviour of Moths – I am going to give it another chapter and if it’s still not grabbing me I’ll set it aside.

New books

You would be forgiven for thinking that after the book haul I would not have been buying anything else, but come on, this is me we are talking about. So the following came into the house this week:

The Valentine House by Emma Henderson – “this deeply involving, intriguing novel tells the story of an English family through the generations and a memorable French woman, whose lives seem worlds apart yet which become inextricably connected” – bought because of the cover…

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker – “Imagine a world where sleep could trap you, for days, for weeks, months… A world where you could, even, die of sleep rather than in your sleep.” – a pre-order and firmly in my wheelhouse

Heartsick by Dia Reeves – “A large creepy estate, mysterious twin brothers, family secrets, a diabolical invention known as the bone machine, and a young girl who is not at all human.” Likewise.

Long Live Great Bardfield by Tirzah Garwood – Tirzah, who has the Best Name Ever, was a very talented artist and wife of Eric Ravilious. I bought a Christmas card from Daunts with one of her haunting images on it and in finding out more about her came across this lovely autobiography published by Persephone. An actual physical book!

At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell – “Paris, near the turn of 1932-3. Three young friends meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and their friend Raymond Aron, who opens their eyes to a radical new way of thinking…” Who hasn’t wanted a light and readable book about the key tenets of French philosophy?

So that’s it for this round-up. Hope you all have a wonderful reading week 🙂

 

 

Sunday Salon – 13 January 2019

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Not very much happened this week apart from lots of post-Christmas chores including (finally) taking down our Christmas tree which was only a week later than planned. So lack of activity means a short Salon post this week.

Books read

None finished but I made progress with…

Currently reading

Global Crisis – still working my way steadily through the 17th century; things that stuck in my head from the two chapters I read this week (Iberian Peninsula & France) :

  • The Portuguese rebellion was the only one in mid-seventeenth century Europe to become permanent
  • In 1639 Arthur Hopton, the British ambassador in Madrid, predicted that the ‘unquietness’ of Portugal ‘is not yet settled, the minds of the people being as ill-disposed as ever’
  • The King of Spain intensified the impact of climate change more than any other seventeenth century ruler by making appalling policy choices
  • Anne of Austria, Queen Regent of France, managed to overlook the danger of (as described by Cardinal de Retz) “lifting the veil that must always cover what one might say and what one might believe concerning the rights of the People and the rights of kings, which always keep the best harmony when silent”
  • Also Olivares was a twit and a total liability (my considered opinion)

The Behaviour of Moths – didn’t read any of this novel this week, just wasn’ty feeling it for some reason

The City of Mirrors – the third in Justin Conin’s Passage trilogy; I started to read this (which I’ve had for a while) becasue a TV version arrives later this week

New Books

I may have been on a bit of a Kindle spree, so much so that there will need to be a separate post. Have pity on me, I am a chronic tsonduko sufferer 🙂

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Other stuff

We binged the last half of season one of Berlin Station. Loved it. I gather there are two more series and I will be looking out for those.

 

Sunday Salon – 6 January

img_2218Welcome to the first Salon of 2019. Which I managed to type correctly the first time, surprisingly, so yay me! It’s been a quiet week but none the worse for that. So what have I been up to, bookishly?

Books read:

I sneaked another book under the wire on New Year’s Eve, finishing The Hanging Tree in one final push. Very enjoyable; you can read my thoughts here.

I also continued to read Global Crisis and had confirmed what I already knew – the Thirty Years War was a Very Bad Thing Indeed.

Books bought since my last Salon post, so includes a couple from the very end of December):

  • An American Story by Christopher Priest – “A powerful meditation on loss and memory seen through the prism of 9/11, by one of our greatest authors.”
  • Currently by Sarah Mensinga – “Set in a unique fantasy world inspired by the ocean travel of the early 1900’s, Currently is a sometimes funny, sometimes gritty exploration of how to survive when you’re surrounded by power but have none yourself.”
  • Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart – “High in the rugged Pyrenees lies the Valley of the Storms, where a tiny convent clings to the beautiful but lonely mountainside. Jenny Silver arrives seeking her missing cousin, and is devastated when she learns of Gillian’s death following a terrible car accident”. But……
  • Changeling by Matt Wesolowski – “On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found.”
  • The Old You by Louise Voss – “Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words.”

Currently reading:

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams; my first read for the Mount TBR challenge. I’ve apparently had this for almost 10 years without reading it, which is not unusual and a very good reason for taking part in this challenge 😀

A good start to the year I think. Hope you have a good reading week.

The Last Sunday Salon of the Year

IMG_0796I hope everyone had an enjoyable festive season. It was a lovely and relaxing time chez Bride, and here we are already at the last Sunday of 2018.

You would think that having had a fine selection of gifts given to me (see my haul post here) I would not have been buying myself any books but if you know me at all then you know that would be very uncharacteristic. So here goes….

Books bought this week:

  • Vigil by Angela Slatter – the first in a trilogy of urban fantasy set in Australia; really looking forward to this one
  • Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley – his second novel after the very successful and highly praised The Lony (which I still haven’t read, oops)
  • The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy – a recommendation by blogger Ali at heavenali.wordpress.com, beware that Amazon gives away much of the plot if you are thinking of investigating this one
  • The Lingering by SJI Holliday – it’s Gothic and therefore a no-brainer
  • John Dies at the End by David Wong – I just liked the title; no offence to anyone I know called John, of course
  • Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss – so many people have recommended this one so I thought ‘why not?’
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – I was at a party on Saturday 29th and a fellow guest recommended this to me; I think it’s been on my wish list for a while so I succumbed.

Books finished this week? Hmm? Move along, nothing to see here…..

I’m still reading The Hanging Tree and determined to finish it on New Year’s Eve, though to be honest I’m not particularly bothered about it drifting into 2019, it would just be neat to tie things up on the last day of the year.

Making good progress with Global Crisis, and the thing I learned this week that stuck with me most was the fact that

In 1595 Sultan Mehmet III had followed tradition and executed all 19 of his brothers, some of them infants, as well as pregnant slaves in the harem, and he later executed the crown prince on suspicion of treason, so that at his death in 1603 only two male members of the Ottoman dynasty survived: his sons Ahmed (aged 13, who became the new sultan) and Mustafa (aged 4)

Such a waste.

Hope everyone has a fine reading week and a very Happy New Year!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

IMG_2190Here we are with the last Sunday Salon post before Christmas. There are already a few book-shaped packages underneath our tree so no worries there. It has been a good week but I haven’t been able to do much reading.

Well, not actual books anyway.

So, what have I actually been doing since my last post? Well, there was the carol service I attended in London on Monday (hence the super picture above) in which my singing voice (such as it is) betrayed my recent chest infection. My voice cracked at all the best bits, but as usual I made up for being a lousy singer with significant amounts of enthusiasm. We also headed into London to do some Christmas shopping for luxuries. Have a look at my Instagram if you want to see a Bride’s eye view of the Christmas retail experience!

IMG_3187In terms of reading, there has been very little (as I said above), but I needed a self-care day yesterday so launched into Comixology for a heartening amount of violence. Say hello to my new special friend, Katana –>.

But you want the dazzling details I presume?

Books bought this week:

  • The Year of Less by Cait Flanders – how a young woman in her twenties stopped shopping, gave away her belongings and discovered that life was yada yada – I can’t resist these things so will read while no doubt rolling my eyes a bit
  • Vanish in an Instant by Margaret Millar – I love Margrate Millar and this is apparently a rediscovereed noir classic – not only that but its a physical book I bought in an actual bookshop

Books finished:

Zero. Zilch. Nada. Next question.

Currently reading (still):

  • The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch – I am determined to finish this before Christmas Day when I am more than likely going to be distracted by the bookish equivalent of Bright and Shiny Things

I’m also still reading Global Crisis, which brings me to this week’s fun fact from the 17th Century –

In Scotland, exasperated by the constant lawlessness of one particular clan, in 1626 the government deported all men named “Macgregor” to continental Europe, “sufficiently guarded by some of their officers who will be answerable for their not escaping”.

Indeed.

I hope you all have a wonderful festive season however you celebrate it or not.

An Unexpected Hiatus

I haven’t written here since * checks blog * oh – last month apparently. This unplanned break was entirely due to my developing a nasty chest infection which required lots of inactivity (believe me, any movement led to the most dreadful coughing fits). But as described by Silvery Dude, I am no longer sickly and off games, so thought I’d catch up with what’s been happening round these parts, besides the coughing of course.

The last thing I did in the great outdoors before succumbing to the dreaded lurgy was visiting the British Museum to see the exhibition on Ashurbanipal, which was fascinating and full of wonderful objects (as in the photo above). I love Assyrian art (I always visit the permanent exhibition whenever I’m in the BM) but recognise that they were a bloodthirsty lot, at least at the kingly level, so some of the images are graphic. I can recommend this if you are in London, I think it’s on until late February.

I may have bought a lot of things in the gift shop, including the book listed below – don’t judge me.

After that it’s all a blur. I was supposed to attend the British Library on 2 December to hear Ian Rankin talk, but just wasn’t well enough and, let’s face it, no-one wanted to hear me coughing over all of the speakers (I suspect there would have been very hard stares and possibly some tutting). I tweeted my disappoint and got a very nice get well soon tweet from Mr Rankin himself, which was unexpected and demonstrates once again that book people are good people.

I did a little bit of reading but didn’t finish anything, so current reading status is still:

  • The Hanging Tree – about 50%, hoping to finish it this weekend
  • Global Crisis – about 11% through but I’m reading this slowly because it is both enormous and full of interesting facts which I may share here on occasion

Actually, let’s go ahead. This week’s interesting fact is about intermarriage in the Spanish royal family which meant that:

Philip IV of Spain boasted only 8 great-grandparents instead of the normal 16; and after he married his niece in 1649, he became the great-uncle as well as the father of his children, while their mother was also their cousin

Books bought in December so far:

  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield – A SPELLBINDING, MULTI-LAYERED MYSTERY SET IN THE 19TH CENTURY AROUND THE THAMES shouted Amazon; this was a pre-order
  • The Willows by Algernon Blackwood – short early weird horror
  • The Favourite: Ralegh & his Queen by Matthew Lyons – the 16th century never loses its fascination for me
  • Cradle Song by Robert Edric – dark and grim crime novel, first of a trilogy set in Hull; don’t know why I do this to myself….
  • When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger – I can’t resist reading or listening to podcasts about cults, so this academic study on how a group handles the failure of their prophecy that the end of the world is/was due was a no-brainer
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean – a book about the fire which destroyed 400,000 books in the Los Angeles Public Library, this was a pre-order that arrived signficantly earlier than I expected; a nice surprise
  • Passing Strange by Ellen Klages – finalist for the 2017 Nebula Award for Best Novella
  • A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P Djeli Clarke – “Egypt, 1912. In an alternate Cairo infused with the otherworldly, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine” – had to be done
  • New Amsterdam 2 by Elizabeth Bear – more stories from the wonderful Ms Bear
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go by James Ball – and 87 other serious answers to questions in songs, such as how do you solve a problem like Maria?
  • How to be Invisible by Kate Bush – when you discover that one of your favourite authors is a hardcore Kate Bush fan, and then discover that he has written an introduction to a book of her lyrics, well – David Mitchell has gone up even higher in my estimation!

Of course these all break my self-imposed book-buying embargo, but I won’t tell anyone if you don’t (and none of them were on my Christmas list so technically that’s OK. I think.)

Anyway,  have a wonderful reading week and hopefully normal blogging activity has resumed chez Bride!

 

This Week in Books & a Non-Fiction Round-up

It’s been getting cooler and duller and lights are being switched on earlier each day so we are definitely in curling up in a chair and reading a good book season. So how did this week in reading go?

Currently reading

  • Global Crisis – I’ve not progressed this since my last post so will be making time for a few chapters this week
  • The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch – this the sixth of the Peter Grant books and I’m about halfway through; I like to read series in order of course and you will understand why I picked this up because….

Books bought

  • Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch – this is the seventh Peter Grant book and when it arrived I realised I hadn’t read the previous one; what can I say, I decided to deal with that immediately (see above)
  • Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh – more true crime, the story of the Pillow Pyro arsonist; I bought this because I heard the story in a back episode of My Favourite Murder and wanted to get more details
  • Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman – apparently ‘plunges us into the depths of psychological horror, where you can’t always believe everything you hear

Books finished

  • Bestial by Harold Schechter – more true crime, this is the story of one of the first known serial killers in the USA; I have NOTES so will write about this another time.

I also wanted to write up a few thoughts on recent non-fiction reads because I am a completist.

Victorians Undone by Kathryn Hughes

All about how the Victorians viewed their bodies told through five specific stories. So many fascinating details, it’s the kind of book has you reading things out to anyone within hearing distance; for example, Charlotte Bronte apparently spoke with a strong Northern Irish accent – who knew?

The final story in the book tells the horrendous murder of Fanny Adams, and the magistrate involved in the case was Jane Austen’s nephew Edward Knight, born in 1794 and died in 1879. The author makes the excellent point that although we feel the need to carve our history up and put things into boxes Edward Knight’s long life is ‘a reminder of how bodies join up the past in a continuous ribbon of experience and feeling‘; I loved that idea so much.

Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd

I picked this up as a sort of follow-up to the book I read earlier this year by Dame Professor Sue Black about her life as a forensic anthropologist, and she was quoted on the cover of this volume. So Richard Shepherd was one of the most senior and well-known forensic pathologists in the UK. He’s handled a number of the most significant and high-profile cases in the country, including (controversially) the Marchioness disaster, the Harold Shipman murders, and the London bombings.

This is a memoir of his life and career and the impact that his work has had on his personal life – after all, he reckons he’s carried out over 20,00 autopsies. It’s a very honest book and worth reading if you are at all interested in this subject.

The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen

We all know what happened to the dinosaurs, but it was only one of (so far) five major extinction events that have taken place in Earth’s history. A good example of popular science at its best, the author goes through the various ways life on our planet was almost extinguished via fire, ice, poison gas, suffocation and of course asteroids. He also speculates on what all of this may tell us about the future.

Hope you all have a great reading week!