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The Sunday Salon

tssbadge1Getting back into blogging is really, really difficult. I’ve found myself staring at an empty blog post far more often than I’d like and I can’t decide which books to actually review. For example, I wrote the last two sentences of this post yesterday. I then decided to attempt to write a review of the book I just finished, Huntress. I wrote a summary of that, found writing what I thought of the book really difficult (even though I loved it and thought I’d have plenty to say) and then gave up for the evening.

In short, this whole blogging thing is not flowing the way that it used to.

The Christmas season is more or less in full swing here. My work Christmas party was Friday night and I’ve got my department Christmas party this Thursday, plus some drinks with friends in between. I’ve been enjoying the increased levels of socialising, surprisingly, as long as I do get some downtime to recharge batteries. I’ve definitely got that coming up, as I’m off work from a half day on the 24th until the 6th of January. I’ve been pondering what to do with all that time; I don’t think I’ve been at home so long without any concrete plans since I started working and I’m looking forward to it. Options include playing through one of my favorite games again, getting a start on Long-Awaited Reads month, or reorganizing my bookshelves, which have been neglected and look a bit woeful (not even close to alphabetized).

In current reading news, I just finished the above-mentioned Huntress, which was meant to be for A More Diverse Universe until I decided not to bog in November. It was fantastic, of course, and I do intend to write about it. I hope. I’m working my way, slowly, through Noble Endeavours, a somewhat scattered account of many different relationships between Britons and Germans leading up to World War I and beyond. I also decided that the first book I’ll read once the holidays begin is River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay; my reading recently has mostly been limited to what I can carry on the train or what’s on my Kindle and I’m going to enjoy sinking into that and a few other longer reads when I get the chance.

How are your holidays shaping up? Do you have any reading planned? I’d love to hear about it.

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TSS: Thoughts on Not Blogging

tssbadge1Giving up blogging has been an educational experience. I’ve been writing in this blog regularly for at least six years, and the last more-than-three-weeks is the longest period I’ve ever gone without writing a post. I fully intend to return to blogging because, oddly enough, I find that I miss it. I’m also craving writing something – anything – that isn’t my fledgling novel at the moment, so I thought I’d share a few observations.

The first one is that, to my actual surprise, I have been drawn immediately to longer books now that I don’t have to review anything. Lifting the pressure of writing reviews has also lifted the pressure to read things I can get through quickly. I almost instantly continued my re-read of A Song of Ice and Fire and I’ve gotten through A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. I’ve been wanting to finish my re-read of these since the TV show started, especially because I haven’t actually read A Dance with Dragons, and while I’d actually read the first two a couple of months ago and started A Storm of Swords in October, this re-read in close succession has been delightful and reminded me of why I loved these books to start with. Namely, amazing characters, world-building, surprises that I’d forgotten – a world that actually feels as though it lives and breathes every time I go back to it.

I also started reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King, who is another of my favorite authors that fell by the wayside when I became more attracted to shorter books. It’s taken me ages to read this, mostly because my husband and I went to Spain for a week, but I love that I don’t feel pressure to get through it quickly. I can just enjoy reading it as it comes. I didn’t realize how much of my impatience on getting through books was because of blogging; I actually thought it was just because I’m an impatient person in general (a character flaw).

I’ve also learned a ton about what I need to do to actually write a successful novel because this attempt has felt like flailing around in mud and slowly sinking, but I think that’s a subject for another post.

Lastly, it was really nice not to have to think at all about blogging while we were on holiday. Of course, when I decided I didn’t have to, I immediately thought about how I’d write up the trip for my blog. It’s almost as though removing the pressure and the need to write a post every so often has given me back the desire to actually write posts (and that’s where this one comes in). Having a week off from work helped, too.

Malaga Alcazaba

Malaga Alcazaba

In any case, I think I’m ready for my return to this little corner of the internet in a week’s time, or at least I feel as though I am now. Let’s hope the week of work and frantic novel-writing ahead doesn’t change that, and I’ll see you all here next Sunday.

Have you taken a break from blogging? What did you find?

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TSS: Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Books?

tssbadge1Good afternoon Saloners! I am currently facing the (first world) dilemma that I suspect all book lovers must face eventually – is there such a thing as too many books?

In my case, unfortunately, the answer to that question is yes.

I have four bookcases in my house, two large normal Ikea Billy style bookcases and two smaller ones, maybe about half that size. And they are all officially full of books. I definitely have a book acquisition problem. I have nearly 600 unread books (although fortunately about 100 of those are ebooks) and while a good portion of those are still living in my parents’ house in the United States, most of them seem to be living here in a house that is too small for them. My husband is patient and tolerant, far more than I am, but now the books have colonized the floor in front of the bookcases, and for him this is enough. So, I’m officially on a physical book buying ban, and I must read physical books rather than ebooks. I mean, I can read ebooks, but it means I have to wait even longer before acquiring new physical books. And, well, I like physical books.

Plus, I’m going on holiday next month, and I should probably think about saving money for that rather than buying books all the time.

So! The rules of the ban are as follows:

  1. No new physical books until after my birthday (January 12th), unless I can clear the floor and some shelf space first.
  2. Pre-ordered books are okay, if they were pre-ordered before today.
  3. Ebooks under £2 are also okay. They don’t take up any space and I’ve taken positive chances on a lot of books this way, then gone on to buy plenty of that author’s books (Jo Walton, perfect example) at normal prices.

Although I only decided on the ban a few days ago, I’m already wishing for various books, not helped by the fact that I like to spend time in my local Waterstone’s …

edward iiiEdward III and the Triumph of England in particular is calling my name – very, very loudly. I mean, how am I supposed to resist a book that is essentially about medieval chivalry, one of my very favourite subjects in the world? With difficulty, I think. The book focuses on the career of Edward III and his court after the victory at Crecy. This is already on my Christmas wish list. It’s also an absolutely beautiful book that would fit right in with my small but growing collection of history. Richard Barber wrote or contributed to a couple of books I used for my MA dissertation (which was actually on chivalry but at a slightly later date) so this is guaranteed to be fascinating for me.

the windup girl

The Windup Girl caught my eye in the bookstore yesterday. The summary from Amazon:

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s calorie representative in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, he combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs long thought to be extinct. There he meets the windup girl – the beautiful and enigmatic Emiko – now abandoned to the slums. She is one of the New People, bred to suit the whims of the rich. Engineered as slaves, soldiers and toys, they are the new underclass in a chilling near future where oil has run out, calorie companies dominate nations and bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

And as Lake becomes increasingly obsessed with Emiko, conspiracies breed in the heat and political tensions threaten to spiral out of control. Businessmen and ministry officials, wealthy foreigners and landless refugees all have their own agendas. But no one anticipates the devastating influence of the Windup Girl.

It just sounds exactly like the kind of science fiction that I’m into right now and it went straight on the wishlist.

year of the demon

I loved – and I mean really, really loved – Steve Bein’s first book in this series, Daughter of the Sword. I was thrilled to learn that the second book was releasing sooner than I’d hoped, but it looks like I’ll have to wait a little bit longer to get my hands on this.

iron kingdom

Iron Kingdom was one of the books referenced in Vanished Kingdoms. I feel like I don’t know nearly enough about Prussia to properly understand more recent European history and that recommendation sealed the deal for me. I really want to add this to the aforementioned slowly-growing collection of history. It’s sitting on my wishlist, waiting for that time when I’ve cleared off shelf space.

What are you wishing for? Have you run out of shelf space yet?

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The Sunday Salon: A-Z

tssbadge1Nicked from Jodie at Bookgazing (whose blog and collaborative blog, Lady Business, you should be reading) – I’ve seen this around and thought it would be fun.

Author you’ve read the most books from:

This is tricky because I’m not entirely sure. I read a LOT of series and I have a number of romance authors that I gorged on in high school. Julia Quinn and Stephanie Laurens loom pretty largely in my LibraryThing even though I’ve not read a book from the latter in years. Stephen King is another one, although again I haven’t read his latest books.

Best Sequel Ever: 

Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews – possibly not ever but best I can think of. I really fell in love with the Kate Daniels series at the third book, but in the second book I started to feel like I was getting there.

Currently Reading: 

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I’m nearly finished with it. Next up is Mrs Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.

Drink of Choice While Reading: 

I mostly just drink water, sometimes tea in the morning.

E-reader or Physical Book? 

I’m happy reading both. I prefer the look, feel, and smell of physical books, but my Kindle is perfect for books I don’t think I want to keep forever in this space-limited house. Plus, commuting. I can’t carry hardcovers on the train, but the Kindle lets me read huge chunksters without worry.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School: 

Reading more YA would help with this question. I am not sure. Boring answer! Maybe Harry Potter. I have always liked geeky boys.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance: 

Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold. Hello, science fiction, I actually like you! Well, more specifically, space opera – but this series changed my view of what I did and didn’t like irrevocably.

Hidden Gem Book:

I always think of Guy Gavriel Kay when I think about hidden gems. Now that I’m into book blogging I know I’m not the only one that loves his books, but I still feel like they don’t get enough recognition. I’ve got River of Stars calling my name at this very moment and I can’t wait to read it.

Important Moment in your Reading Life: 

The year I discovered LibraryThing, 2006. I had no idea that so many people felt the way I did about books. I’d certainly never met anyone in real life who did and the community there changed everything. It also led to many things, including this blog. Starting the blog was a pretty big deal, too.

Just Finished: 

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa. The only series I’ve ever read where the heroine shares my name (Meghan) although not my taste in guys, that’s for sure.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I’m with Jodie, no self-help or diet books. I also don’t tend to like books set in the current, modern US or UK. I’ll read them if they’re valuable and well-reviewed, but they don’t draw me in naturally.

Longest Book You’ve Read: 

I have read War and Peace. I don’t remember any of it (this was 8 years ago) and I’m pretty sure I read a poor translation. But I read it.

Major book hangover because of: 

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. That book left its stamp on me fiercely, despite its quiet nature.

Number of Bookcases You Own: 

In the UK, two big ones, two small ones. In the US, two big ones and a small section of the wall next to one of them …

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: 

I read Prince Charming by Gaelen Foley 8 times in high school. I’m afraid to read it now since I’ve been so disappointed with what Gaelen Foley has written in the last couple years.

Preferred Place To Read: 

On the couch, downstairs, with the sun coming in the windows.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read: 

I’m going to go with one of the latest quotes on my Kindle from The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente:

“September had never been betrayed before. She did not even know what to call the feeling in her chest, so bitter and sour. Poor child. There is always a first time, and it is never the last time.”

Reading Regret: 

Skipping longer books I’ll probably love in favor of shorter books that I can read faster. Not re-reading my favorite books often enough.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series): 

The Wheel of Time. I can’t believe the series has been finished for months and I still haven’t persuaded myself to read the rest.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books: 

Two favorites, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. And a third favorite, mentioned earlier, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Unapologetic Fangirl For: 

The Miles Vorkosigan series. I’ve pointed so many people in the direction of those books, in real life as well as online – I hope at least a few have started reading them.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others: 

New Sarah Waters just announced!

Worst Bookish Habit: 

I share this habit with Jodie – I buy books and am thrilled to have them and then wait years to read them.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: 

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. Not yet read. Meant to read a long time ago. See above.

Your latest book purchase: 

Went to the bookstore yesterday to support the Books Are My Bag promotion and bought these lovelies:

  • Spain: A History, Raymond Carr
  • Germania, Simon Winder
  • The Rough Guide to Andalucia

I also bought Higgs Force by Nicolas Mee for my husband.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): 

I may be the only book lover that just can’t do this. I fall asleep even when I’m totally in love with a book unless I’ve had a lot of sleep recently. Usually it happens when I’m reading a romance novel as I can get through them in a couple of hours each.

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The Sunday Salon: Currently Back Home

tssbadge1Time // A very jetlagged 16:21

Place // Still at my desk – despite attempts to write posts on the iPad, I’ve not been hugely successful yet.

Eating // A chicken salad, slightly earlier.

Drinking // Water

Reading // I finally finished Vanished Kingdoms last week, just before I left for a week at home in the United States. I’ve read a lot since then; I managed to finish The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters, Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker this week! I’m now solely reading Skinwalker by Faith Hunter, which is the start in yet another urban fantasy series that I hope to finish at some point this evening.

Watching // We still haven’t finished either House of Cards or Babylon 5! We should be making some headway into both this week, though.

Cooking // I made Lazy Layered Eggplant a second time and it did indeed turn out better when I added more spices. This week I’m hoping to make my own version of chicken saag (potentially following this recipe) as it’s my favorite curry and it would be lovely to have without resorting to a takeaway.

Learning // I passed my driving test! Now I need to find something new to learn, although I have a feeling I’ll still be learning how to drive our car instead of the instructor’s for some time.

Now that my next trip is to Spain, I’m going to start reading some medieval Spanish history. Starting with this book:

moorish spain

Gaming // I’m installing Rome II: Total War as we speak and can’t wait for it to be ready! It’s received some rave reviews so far and, while I am typically pretty appallingly bad at Total War games, I also completely love them.

Loving/Hating // I love that I have read so many amazing books lately; I kind of hate that I haven’t written any reviews for them yet! It’s been very quiet around here lately.

Anticipating // Our trip to Spain in November; sleeping in my own bed again after a week away; reading Chimes at Midnight by Seanan McGuire!

As usual credit goes to Kim for the Currently format!

Hope you’re all having a wonderful Sunday and have a great week ahead!

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The Sunday Salon

tssbadge1I’ve decided to try using the “Currently” format, which I first saw over on Kim’s blog, for my Salon this week. I changed some bits, though, to suit me a little better.

Time // 13:13

Place // At my desk in our computer room

Eating // Nothing at the moment, but pizza is for lunch I think!

Drinking // A glass of water

Reading // I’m now deep into Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-forgotten Europe by Norman Davies, which is just as fascinating as I thought it would be when I first got it. Davies delves into the history of the various countries and states that didn’t make it to the present, and which have been forgotten through the years. So far, I’ve read about a kingdom in Scotland (Alt Clud), one in modern-day Spain (Tolosa) and am now reading about Litva, which was in eastern Europe and was formerly the area around Belarus.

I’ve also just barely started Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells which is an anthology of “gaslamp fantasy” edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling – basically, fantasy set in the 19th century. I’m hoping to read a few of the stories this afternoon.

Watching // We’re still watching Babylon 5 at home and with a friend we’re watching House of Cards. I’m not even sure how I feel about the latter show, because it’s so immoral and extreme, but I love Babylon 5. I think we’ll also go see Elysium in the movie theater next weekend.

Cooking // I’ve been making an effort when it comes to cooking over the last few weeks. I tend to try to make at least one recipe from my Pinterest board each week. Last week I made Potato and Goat’s Cheese Gratin, which was lovely and went really well with fish but needed more time in my oven, unfortunately. I also made Lazy Layered Eggplant which will also be made again in my kitchen! I needed to up the spices just a tad but the flavors were wonderful.

Learning // I’m still learning to drive. I’ve been learning to drive for months now and I actually am physically capable of driving a manual car with relative ease now (at last). I had to delay my test because I went home for my grandma’s funeral right at the time where I was meant to take it, and because booking it is so slow, have had to wait an additional two months. But it’s coming up soon, and my fingers are crossed!

Gaming // I’ve recently purchased the latest Civilization V expansion pack, Brave New World, which is great fun when I feel like investing a couple of hours into building my own little civilization. 

Loving/Hating // Mainly I love that I’m actually continuing to feel inspired with my cooking. I’ve been making lunches for my husband and myself and have really been focusing on buying more fresh and less packaged foods. We still buy back-up frozen fish and vegetables, but it’s so nice knowing that we’re sticking to healthier choices.

Anticipating // In the immediate future I’m really looking forward to next Monday’s bank holiday. I love free days off work, and this is our last one until Christmas. A three day weekend always means I’m just slightly more energized for work. In the longer term I can’t wait for my trip to Spain in November. I’ve already started planning out what books I’m going to read beforehand and what days we’ll be spending where. We haven’t been out of the country on a proper trip except to visit my parents for two years, so I’m thrilled to be going somewhere new at last. This will also be our longest holiday together, since we’re finally able to go for a week.

I’m also anticipating finally selling the flat we’ve owned in Wolverhampton for years; getting rid of that burden will mean we can start saving for our future much more than we do now, and actually begin to make plans about it. I can’t wait!

How is your Sunday going?

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The Sunday Salon: An exceptionally late June 2013 Reading Wrap-Up

tssbadge1Hello everyone. It’s been silent here for one of the longest stretches in blogging memory, and I only managed to post a review last week because I’d written it significantly ahead of time. My family have had a rough week and a half as my grandma passed away last Sunday night, and I flew home to the United States last Tuesday for her wake and funeral. My grandma was a wonderful woman, and my favorite grandparent by far, so this has been a difficult time, and was a really hard end to June. But at least her struggles are over and she can rest in peace, and life will now resume some semblance of normality for the rest of my family too.

As you can imagine, I spent a lot of June buried in books. And not writing reviews of them. I really had very little enthusiasm or energy for anything at all. I had a brief period where I started to get my energy back and I had three days of posts in a row, and I’m hoping that will happen again and stick around this time in a couple of weeks. I’ve read so many amazing books and I really do want to talk about them, so I intend to do so eventually, even if only in mini reviews. (And this week I will choose winners of my giveaway – apologies to those waiting for the news!) I’m as usual reading a lot of series, and I think I’ll probably write little cluster reviews rather than individually review books, like with the Confederation novels by Tanya Huff.

Fiction

  • The Heart of Valor, Tanya Huff
  • The Enchanted April, Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters
  • Deception, Kris Kennedy
  • Three Parts Dead, Max Gladstone
  • The Better Part of Darkness, Kelly Gay
  • Have His Carcase, Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Busman’s Honeymoon, Dorothy L. Sayers (yes, I went on a binge)
  • Graveminder, Melissa Marr
  • Shapeshifted, Cassie Alexander
  • Elisha Barber, E. C. Ambrose

Non-fiction

  • Pompeii, Mary Beard
  • The Churchills, Mary S. Lovell

Favorites of the Month

gaudy nightthe heart of valor pompeii

 

I continue to love the Confederation novels; The Heart of Valor made me instantly buy the next two in the series, after which I *think* it ends. I also spent a good week immersed in the world of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, but Gaudy Night was (predictably) my favorite, as it not only brings up a lot to think about and an interesting perspective on academia for women at the time, but also shows Harriet’s opinion of Peter changing beautifully for the better. And Pompeii was just fascinating. All recommended.

What’s Ahead in July

More posts, I hope! Here are the books I have lined up to read over the course of the rest of this month:

July 2013 reads

I’m actually looking forward to all of these books without exception. You can see that I want to finish the Confederation novels, as they’re both on the pile. And look, there are even two works of historical fiction, so I might actually feature a book that is in my “niche”. Crazy.

What’s ahead for you in July?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey"

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

Monday, here you are again, and here I am reading a couple of books that I think are pretty good!

I’ve been reading The Churchills by Mary S. Lovell for a few days now, as it’s a nice big chunky biography and takes a bit of memory to figure out who is who each time I pick it up. I really enjoyed Lovell’s biography of Bess of Hardwick, and so the fact that she’d written this family biography plus the subject matter interested me a lot. I’ve been to Blenheim Palace, I’m fascinated by Consuelo Vanderbilt, who married one of the dukes of Marlborough (the Spencer Churchill family) at her mother’s behest and against her own will, and I’m probably one of the few people living in the UK that knows very little about Winston Churchill aside from the big history-making stuff. So! The scene is set for a good read and I’ve rescued it from a bit of isolation on my shelf – it’s been sitting there for over a year.

the churchillsThis is not really the sort of non-fiction I’d consider serious history, but rather very gossipy and very much about who was sleeping with who and when. Most of the book centers around the part of the family immediately around Winston Churchill, with a brief description of the family and a few chapters about his parents. I’m pleased with it so far; I especially like, as I always do with history, when Lovell talks about the historiography of the family and compares her own thoughts with those who have come before.

have his carcaseI only started my second read today but I’m already almost a third of the way through (the joys of commuting to work). This is Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers. You may not know this, as I never posted about it, but I read Strong Poison a couple of months ago. This book, and the part of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries including Harriet Vane, came highly recommended by everyone who’d read it, and in fact Ana pressed it in my hand in London one day, so there was no chance of me saying no. While I didn’t fall in love with it, I was intrigued enough to stick the remaining three books on my wishlist. Then, yesterday, in something of a coincidence, Amy’s post reminded me that actually I quite wanted to read the rest of these books, and they dropped a couple of pounds on the Kindle. So I bought them and started reading on the train this morning.

To my surprise, I am loving this one, to the degree that I’m actually going to go cheat on The Churchills (my home book) so I can read it more. I love the banter between Harriet and Peter in particular; it’s incredibly delightful even in the middle of a murder / suicide mystery, and I really just want more time to read. I could have stayed on the train for much longer this evening. As I’m home, though, I’m going to go indulge myself while it lasts.

What are you reading this week?

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TSS: The Holiday that Wasn’t

tssbadge1Good afternoon Saloners! I’m glad to say that I think I’m finally on the mend today; after a flu / cold-like illness struck last Saturday while camping, followed by conjunctivitis in both eyes later on in the week, I am approaching normal and very happy about that. We’ve had a chilled out weekend and done very little, which has been great. Mostly, I’ve been reading, and we finished watching the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

I’m not sure I ever wrote anything about the holiday that we intended to have last weekend. I’ve been working really hard the last few months to get in better shape. I’ve never been overweight, but since I’ve been married I have definitely gained a few pounds and my fitness level had rock-bottomed around the beginning of the year. After a completely exhausting walk at Robin Hood’s Bay earlier this year, I decided I’d had enough – I didn’t want to be so unhealthy, even if I still looked okay. So I’ve been working out really consistently and, as a little test, we planned to climb Ben Nevis in Scotland, the highest mountain in the UK, last weekend. It’s not terribly challenging; plenty of people who aren’t incredibly fit go up Ben Nevis all the time, but it would still be a nice accomplishment.

We also wanted to visit Gretna Green, that infamous place where all the characters in Regency romances go to elope, and take a ride on the Jacobite steam train, which goes on the same track as used for the Hogwarts Express and is purportedly the most beautiful train ride in the country.

We set off on Friday, and after a minor blip with our car which resulted in an hour’s delay and having to skip Gretna Green on Friday, we finally reached the Highlands.

IMG_0612_667x500

The mountains are gorgeous and, to my surprise, still had snow on them! Given that these two days were the first all year I’d been able to spend without a jacket, it seemed really bizarre.

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The campsite was also beautiful, nestled into a little green valley with lots of sunshine.

On Saturday we attempted the Ben Nevis climb, but I was already feeling unwell so we didn’t even get close to making it up and went back to the tent to read in the sunshine for the afternoon. The highlight of the day ended up being a lovely dinner, starting off with drinks to this view over Loch Leven:

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And ending with this immense plate of locally grown mussels for me.

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Unfortunately that was the end of Saturday night and we skipped the rest of the trip to go home early on Sunday – but it’s a holiday that we will need to repeat, as there was so much I wanted to do and simply didn’t get to. Hopefully we can take another long weekend away camping this year, and I’d much prefer not to get sick the next time.

I’m now going to attempt to do something crazy and write some book reviews. Wishing you all a lovely Sunday and a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!

 

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It's Monday! What are you reading?

it's monday what are you reading

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey

We’re back from our interrupted camping holiday to Scotland, thanks to my body deciding that relaxation meant a fever was in order. Let me tell you, it’s really not nice to get a fever in the middle of what is probably the nicest weekend in two years in Britain and when you’ve been lucky enough to choose that weekend to go away! The only good thing about this is the fact that I’ve finished two books since we got home yesterday.

pompeiiThe first, Pompeii by Mary Beard, was a mix of history and popular archaeology, a really insightful look into how the Romans actually lived in Pompeii. Beard dissects a lot of established knowledge about the buried city, compares it to the current remains, and separates her findings into chapters that focus on one particular aspect of the city and the Roman world. She very quickly does away with the idea that Vesuvius’s eruptions caught the citizens as they were going about their ordinary lives, demonstrating that they were mostly fleeing or had fled already, and then goes into the details of what has been found and what it might mean.

My immediate reaction was of course a desire to go to Pompeii, which I’ve never seen. A lot of the book also underscores how much we’ve lost even seen the ruins were discovered; early excavators in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries didn’t know what they were doing, and once vivid paintings and messages have almost completely faded.

Anyway, a brilliant book, I’d completely recommend it for anyone at all interested in Pompeii or Rome.

the heart of valorSecond, I finished The Heart of Valor by Tanya Huff just a few minutes before I sat down to write this post. This is the sequel to A Confederation of Valor, actually an omnibus of the first two books in the series which I sadly didn’t review, but which I loved. This is what I like to think of as character-focused military science fiction, and I think if you enjoy the Vorkosigan saga, you’ll enjoy these too. Torin Kerr, the main heroine of the series, isn’t quite as crazy as Miles, but she’s a very strong and smart heroine who knows exactly what she’s doing and the comparisons to Ellen Ripley of Alien fame are justified. What I mainly love about these is how quickly we get to know the characters and how they really feel as though each situation is life threatening; Huff gets what I think the military should be like exactly right. I could be completely wrong, and I would hope to never find out whether I am or not, but for me, these books work.

That leaves me with what I’m actually reading now, which is The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. This is a library book that I picked up because it was pretty. Not a joke; this is the benefit of using the library again, because all it takes for me to choose a book is the fact that the cover stands out. Here it is:

the enchanted april

Lovely, and different. It’s a classic about four English women who go to an Italian castle and that’s really all I know so far. I can’t wait to find out more.

What are you reading this week?

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