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 Hanging Tree

61d9sdyio4l._sx310_bo1,204,203,200_The Hanging Tree is the sixth novel in the Rivers of London series featuring PC Peter Grant and the Folly – the Met Police’s little-loved organisation called in to investigate crimes with a magical element.

It’s fair to say that new readers should probably not start here. There is a lot of referring back to previous cases and also developments in the main story arc, so although it would be possible to read this as a standalone a first-time reader would miss so much of the richness that is one of the pleasures of the series.

So, Peter is back in London and has been pulled into the investigation of a young woman’s drug-related death at a party in an expensive flat in Mayfair. Not normally his kind of thing in policing terms, but River Goddess Lady Ty’s daughter is involved in some way and so favours are being called in. It quickly  becomes clear that magic is involved; the young woman shows signs of being a magical practitioner. Cue the usual mayhem and double-dealing, especially when the Americans get involved.

There is a lot to be enjoyed in this novel. As always, Peter’s first person narration of the story really works and doesn’t suffer from the problems other first person stories often have. It also helps that his voice is distinctive and often very funny. All of the supporting characters are well-rounded and recognisable as individuals. And the ongoing story of the series’ Mega Villain (The Faceless Man) gets a major development that is both very satisfying and augurs well for future volumes.

The only quibble I have, which I’ve seen mentioned by other reviewers, is that there is insufficient Nightingale. But then I always think that’s the case…..

We all had to wait a long time for The Hanging Tree, but because I delayed reading it I already have the next volume (plus the novella released in between, and the comics) to hand, though I think I’ll space them out over 2019.

If you are a long-time reader of this series you won’t be disappointed.

The Lego Batman Movie

MV5BMTcyNTEyOTY0M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTAyNzU3MDI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_It’s Batman, Jim, but not as we know it. Or as IMDB would have it:

A cooler-than-ever Bruce Wayne must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to rule Gotham City, while discovering that he has accidentally adopted a teenage orphan who wishes to become his sidekick.

Batman learns an important lesson about teamwork.  That is all, but more than enough 🙂

It’s an interesting fact (to me at least, YMMV) that I have always preferred DC comics to Marvel but of course prefer the Marvel movies to those from DC. Apart from Wonder Woman which was and will forever remain awesome.

You will not be surprised to know that The Lego Batman Movie is the exception to this rule. It is a huge amount of fun, with one of the best iterations of Batman ever. It is full of amazing set-pieces all rendered in overwhelmingly bright colours with a catchy theme song over the end credits (though not as catchy as Everything is Awesome – I only have to hear (or type) the title to have that song stuck in my head) and so much detail that you don’t really know exactly where to look in case you miss something.

The voice cast is astonishingly strong but of course Will Arnett is the standout as the Bat, with Ralph Fiennes a very close second as Alfred. We missed this in the cinema but were able to watch it at home over the Christmas break and could not stop giggling.

Favourite quotes (the ones I remember, after all there are SO MANY every second):

I like to fight around

Okay, Robin. Together, we’re gonna punch these guys so hard, words describing the impact are gonna spontaneously materialize out of thin air.

The creators of the recent incarnations of the DC universe could learn a lot from this film, especially in relation to dialogue. You may not want this many jokes but the script is clever and entertaining without getting in the way of the action.

Very funny and highly recommended.

Dazzling details: The Lego Batman Movie was directed by Chris McKay, is 104 minutes long and is certified U – suitable for everyone unless you are offended by mild comic violence, rude humour and/or very mild bad language

2019 Reading Goals

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So after a very successful reading year I’m hoping to keep up the good work in 2019, including reading

  • more physical books,
  • more books that I already own (ie not just bought and read immediately), and
  • more books from series that I’ve read some of in the past or have yet to start.

I will be setting my Goodreads 2019 Reading Challenge to 75 books – up from my usual 52. I think I should be able to achieve that as I read 63 books this year, including a real dip in the last few months of the year so that’s a conservative outcome.

I will also be taking part in the Mount TBR Challenge, hosted on Goodreads by Bev. This is my first year participating and I’ve decided to be ambitious and aim to climb Mont Blanc; that will account for 24 books included in (not in addition to, I’m not mad) the 75 mentioned above.

The key rules for the climb are:

  • books must be owned by the reader prior to January 1, 2019 – so that includes Christmas gifts, hurrah!
  • any re-read may count, regardless of how long the reader has owned it before 2019, provided it hasn’t been read in last five years
  • ebooks can count if they are owned and are one of the primary sources of backlogged books – however, I’m only going to include physical books because that’s where my problem lies; I find it easier to read on my iPad

I will set up a page on the blog so that you can track my progress, should you wish to; my main reading goal will be tracked on my Goodreads page.

Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense. To the Reading Chair!

My Reading Year – 2018

IMG_0794A good year for me in reading terms, which is no real surprise as I completed my first full year of retirement and was able to build reading into my regular routine.

My goal for 2018 was to read 52 books and I actually managed 62 with the possibility of hitting 63 if I finish my current read in the next 24 hours 😀

In terms of challenges, I took part in two (#ReadingMuriel2018 and Twenty Books of Summer), not completing either of them sadly but having a lot of fun along the way.

And here are my favourite 6 reads of the year – no reflection on anything else I read but these were the ones to stick with me for various reasons.

Here’s to an equally successful 2019!

On the Box – 2018

I don’t normally write about TV here but I thought it would be fun to capture the stuff I enjoyed this past year.

The stuff I knew I would enjoy and did

The stuff I came to a million years after everyone else

The stuff I’ve given up on because I just can’t any more

The stuff I enjoyed thoroughly despite possibly not actually being very good; though I will fight anyone who doesn’t like Instinct.

The stuff I rediscovered after thinking I would never watch it again

Do you have thoughts on any of these?

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!