Every season, I write a longer blogpost, a bit like a newsletter, to have a chat about the previous season of doings.
I appear not to have written a post on my reading since September last year! And that, my friends, is not a good thing.
In September of 2020, I remember saying it might be good, with my birthday and Christmas approaching, to receive book vouchers for my favourite stores. But no, it was not to be.
Instead, but just as appreciated, I received garden-nursery vouchers, which I have started to use this last week. Gardening for me is as much a passion as reading.
But also, summer came and I try never to go near the city during summer – a waste of my time, so I stay happily ensconced in our coastal garden by the sea. Which of course makes my Kindle and the all-important Amazon and Audible bookshops vital. Here, by the sea, where I can hear the waves and watch the seabirds, I have no need to drive into the city, park the car, walk through crowds to get to a bookshop. It’s all done with the click of fingers and buttons.
This will be the last post for a bit.
There’s a holiday celebration at the end of the week, you see, and then a New Year’s celebration (of sorts I think, because everyone’s affected this year – one way or the other). Gosh, to say that we hope for a better year in 2021 is the understatement of the year!
My reading supply is now beginning to deplete as we move close to birthdays and Christmas (heavens, don’t SAY that word!) and I live in hope of a gifted book voucher. It’s the greatest thrill to choose something special from one’s favourite bookshops so I hope one or two family members might stumble across this post. 😉
Please note that as in the past, I will never reveal a plot. That’s an undertaking I make for the author’s sake and for future readers’ enjoyment. Where’s the fun in reading the book when the plot has been deliberately revealed by someone else?
Currently, I’m reading Juliet Marillier’s A Dance with Fate in print. The second in her Warrior Bards series and set deep in Celtic Britain, as usual she builds a completely believable historical world interlaced with the world of the fey. Nothing jars in Marillier’s work. This story leaped out in the first violent chapter and continues to race at pace through a haunting world. She is my favourite historical fantasy writer par excellence.
On Kindle, I have just finished My name is Eva by Susan Goldring. It was… interesting. A story that moved between the contemporary life of aged Evelyn, through her memories to her involvement in World War II. It’s a light read, even though revenge is a key motivation in the story. If I have any criticism, it’s merely that the end came rapidly, perhaps a little too quickly without tying up loose ends with a couple of the characters. But it’s a negligible criticism.
I’m now reading Push Not the River on Kindle, Book One of The Poland Trilogy by James Conroyd Martin. I didn’t seek this book out; it found me in an ad online. It seemed something I might like and so I swiftly added it to my Kindle library. Set in eighteenth century Poland, I’ve only read four pages, but I already like the character renditions. I know nothing of Polish history and look forward to being informed as well as entertained.
And finally, on audio, I’m listening to Santa Montefiore’s Secrets of the Lighthouse. Why did I choose this? I quite like Montefiore books. They’re light contemporary literature and perfect for the car in these tumultuous times.
I also have a thing for lighthouses and coastal stories. The fact that this is set in enigmatic and beautiful Connemara is grist to my mill.
The audio voice, Susan Ridell, is super for the plethora of female Irish voices, but I find she voices Ellen, the female protagonist, just a little too lightly – as if Ellen is an incredibly naïve thirteen, not in her thirties and running from life. I also find complaint with her voicing of male Irish characters – they’re all gravelly, rough and similar, making it hard to differentiate between them in audio. And I’m a lover of the male Irish voice!
I find I prefer men creating believable female voices than women creating male voices in audio and will choose carefully in the future.
But I’m enjoying the story greatly, particularly the character of the very much present late wife of the anti-hero. The Connemara setting is magnificent and I suspect we’re in for a supernatural and rip-roaring confrontation not very far down the track! ‘Nuff said on that one!
But can I just add that I finished Pullmans’ The Secret Commonwealth last week and can’t WAIT for the next book. WHAT A SERIES!!!!
I also finished Wolf of Wessex in audio and was blown away at Harffy’s departure from The Bernicia Chronicles. This writer has it in spades!
And on Kindle, I finished City of God by SJA Turney, the third in The Knights Templar series. Impeccably researched as always and acting out in one of my favourite historical settings – Constantinople. It’s a setting I’ve used myself a few times!
What I enjoy about this series is that the protagonist, Arnau, is not just a fighting man but a thinking man. That to me, is the difference between a flat, ill-nuanced character and a three-dimensional character. I look forward to more in this series.
And that’s it from my little library for the moment. I hope your reading is as rewarding as mine.
I’m the slowest reader ever.
I never was.
Once I would devour a book a week. But now I write and do many other things besides, and by bedtime, my only fiction reading time, I can manage a few pages if I’m lucky. It’s probably why I thank Matthew Harffy for setting me on the path of audiobooks after my first of three eye operations this year.
House is tiny.
It’s a small dwelling that was put together in fits and starts, bits added as the original owners decided they could afford it. It’s quaint, every room is on a different level and the rooms are small, but it is so perfectly idiosyncratic and the place just spoke to us when it was put up for sale 31 years ago by the original owner.
We renovated six years ago and opted to remove the old wood-heater because we knew that in our old age, the last thing we wanted to be doing was carting wood and dealing with the ash, dust and mess that is a wood-burner, despite the obvious charm of flame and wood.
I would like to have opened this segment with a review of Matthew Harffy’s latest book in The Bernicia Chronicles – Killer of Kings. But it sits waiting on my Kindle for me to finish my current reading. I have no doubt it will maintain Matthew’s reputation as a compelling writer of Seventh Century Britain. Matthew’s hero, Beobrand, has quite taken over from Cornwell’s Uhtred of Bebbanburg for me. Beobrand has such dimension and depth and wondering what influences Matthew may have had in the creation of such a well-rounded character, it’s intriguing to see where Matthew’s interests lie as he is marooned far from home on a Desert Island. I heard that westerns may make an appearance. Westerns? Matthew?
Matthew Harffy exploded onto the writing scene last year with The Serpent Sword, Book One of the Bernicia Chronicles. His books have had vast accolades and he has been compared with the iconic Bernard Cornwell, a tag he wears with humility. He writes about a violent and oft-misunderstood time in British history and I wanted to get behind the man and perhaps even a little behind the timeframe as Matthew sees it…