Reading roundup 03/11/21

So, we have arrived at the first Reading Roundup post for November! According to Goodreads, I am well ahead of my target number of books for 2021, although there are a few on the list that I didn’t finish, for a variety of reasons. This week, I read two books from the Science Fiction genre…

The Last Day
by Andrew Hunter Murray

My first book was The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray. I chose this at random from our Library ebook collection and I am glad that I did. Here is the blurb:

The world has stopped turning. The hunt has just begun.

It is 2059, and the world has crashed. Forty years ago, a solar catastrophe began to slow the planet’s rotation to a stop. Now one half of the globe is permanently sunlit, the other half trapped in an endless night. The United States has colonized the southern half of Great Britain–lucky enough to find itself in the narrow habitable region left between frozen darkness and scorching sunlight–where both nations have managed to survive the ensuing chaos by isolating themselves from the rest of the world.

Ellen Hopper is a scientist living on a frostbitten rig in the cold Atlantic. She wants nothing more to do with her country after its slide into casual violence and brutal authoritarianism. Yet when two government officials arrive, demanding she return to London to see her dying college mentor, she accepts–and begins to unravel a secret that threatens not only the nation’s fragile balance, but the future of the whole human race.”

This was a really good read and a well written first book by the author. I will definitely look out for further books by him. Here is the review that I posted on Goodreads:

The Last DayThe Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought that this was a well-written and thoughtful addition to British science fiction. The setting was interesting and unusual: living in a situation where the planet’s rotation has slowed and then stopped altogether. I questioned whether it would be possible for life on Earth to survive this dreadful catastrophe, but saw in the author’s notes that scientists had been consulted.

The political and social responses were well thought through and I enjoyed the fact that the main character was a strong woman. As the book developed into a thriller, it became more exciting, although the ending was quite sudden.

All in all, for me the book was really worth reading.

View all my reviews
Tiamat’s Wrath
by James S A Corey

Whooooop! This was sooooooo good! What (you may ask)? Tiamat’s Wrath by James S A Corey, #08 in The Expanse series, one of my most favourite series of Science Fiction books of all time. First we have the blurb:

Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper.

In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.

At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess.

And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule – and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose – seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough . . .”

Please read other reviews of this book and this series, in addition to mine. And then read the books! The TV series is pretty good, but nothing comes close to actually reading. This are my thoughts:

Tiamat's Wrath (The Expanse, #8)Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, what a read! And I wish I could go on to read the final book in the series straight away, but I will have to wait a few weeks.

Having read all of the series up to number 7 a couple of years ago, I have since had a stroke and somehow forgot about these brilliant books. So, I was browsing through an ebook listing and found that I had somehow missed that volume 8 had been published. It was like finding an amazing treasure!

I had a little difficulty when I began to read. I could remember most of the main characters, but had entirely forgotten the plot of the previous book. Perhaps I should have re-read that one first? Anyway, a lot of the story began to re-emerge from my brain fog and I really immersed myself in this cracking tale.

It is sad that the TV series won’t reach these later books and tell the whole story. I really love the main characters and the relationships between them, although my mind now gives them the faces of the TV actors!

I really hope that one day my younger son will read this series as I am sure his scientific brain would have a greater understanding than mine and it would be great to be able to discuss it all with him. In the meantime, I will read more of the reviews on here.

Oh, the nail-biting wait for book 9!!!

View all my reviews

After that I found it very difficult to choose my next book. How on Earth could anything live up to such a brilliant read?

Well, you will have to wait until next week to find out my choice, or take a quick peak at the sidebar…

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 01/11/21 – COVID-19 booster

Well, here’s to another month! I’m finding it hard to take in that we have arrived in November already. And it’s only a week until my birthday!

Yet again, I am feeling pretty poorly today. I am, however, relieved that Lovely Husband and I were able to have our booster jabs on Friday. Instead of having to travel to a large city, this time we managed to get it all done at our GP’s surgery. Unfortunately, I had a bit of an “episode” whilst we were there.

On arrival at the building, we checked in and were then told to sit in a waiting area. The assistants gathered a group of us together before sending us in to another room for the vaccinations. As we sat waiting to be sent through, the area began to get quite crowded and people started to ignore the signs on alternate seats warning people to avoid sitting too close together. After trying to explain distancing for the second time, I am afraid that I flipped and ran out of the surgery. I think this was probably a mixture of fear of contagion plus some sort of phobia. After being mainly shut in my bedroom for months, I suppose this isn’t very surprising.

LH came after me, managed to calm me down and, in the end, the actual vaccination procedure went OK. After sitting for a few minutes, we were then allowed to leave and we returned home. I have had a stiff arm for a few days and have also felt very tired (but then I do anyway), but everything seems to be alright.

I wonder if we will all have to have a booster every year from now on?

Anyway, that’s all for now. I will return to my book, which I will write about in Wednesday’s post, if I finish it in time…

…oh, I was interrupted just then by a noise at the window. It was a large magpie on the window ledge! It’s now flown away.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Outfits of the week 29/10/21 – and a haircut!

I did it at last! You can see from the post’s title that I managed to get to the hairdresser. My last hair appointment was in May and I had tried, but failed, to get there since, because I was too afraid to go. Yesterday it took a lot of encouragement from my “chaps”, but they got me there. Here is the result…

Before and after hair 28/10/21

It will be interesting to see what my hairdo looks like after I have washed my it as I don’t have the energy to blow dry it any more!

I also took the opportunity to wear a nice outfit. Elder Son asked me why I was “all dressed up” but I told him that I have to take any opportunity I get! This is the outfit…

Outfit of the day 28/10/21 with Hermes’ Baobab Cat gavroche

Outfit details:

  • Lilac cashmere v-neck jumper – Marks and Spencer.
  • Grey cotton jeans – Lands’ End.
  • Silver leather wrap bracelet – Massaccesi.
  • Pewter leather white soled trainers – Hotter.
  • Grape Croco leather Victoria handbag – Massaccesi.
  • Silk scarf, 45cm, in bright pink, grey, purple, white and black – Baobab Cat. Tied in a cowboy knot.

Today, Lovely Husband and I had to go out again to have our COVID-19 boosters and I had planned to wear another of my gorgeous scarves with a similar outfit. Unfortunately, it is raining heavily today so I didn’t risk an Hermès! As I was very tired, I just threw on a random set of clothes and dashed out to the car.

Anyway, I will try to wear something nice over the weekend and during next week so that I have some outfits to show you in next Friday’s post. I must make the most of having all of this lovely stuff!

Happy Weekend to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 27/10/21

This has been a really interesting week in terms of reading. Whilst the real world has been very tense, upsetting and fraught, my reading has taken my mind away from all of that!

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas

My first book was the fourth in Sarah J Maas’s series A Court of Thorns and Roses: A Court of Silver Flames. Here is the blurb:

“Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.”

After the first three books, I was really looking forward to immersing myself in this one. This is the review that I wrote on Goodreads:

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)A ​Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, I almost gave this two stars, but decided on three in the end. There were some interesting and exciting parts to the book, after all, but far too much that was annoying, boring and whining!

I found Nesta a really irritating and negative character and disliked the way that Maas seemed to turn her previously positive and good characters into unpleasant unlikeable monsters. I don’t know where this series is heading, but I will struggle to continue with it. This is so disappointing after the promise of the first two books.

Can Maas’s editors please help her out of this Mire of Misery?

View all my reviews

I expect that all of the young fans of this series would probably shoot me down in flames for this response! Anyway, I decided to try a completely different genre for my next read…

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

Browsing through the Library’s ebook catalogue, I came across a book that intrigued me: We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza. First we have the blurb:

Told from alternating perspectives, an evocative and riveting novel about the lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one white, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event—a powerful and poignant exploration of race in America today and its devastating impact on ordinary lives.

Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.

But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen’s husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager. Six months pregnant, Jen is in freefall as her future, her husband’s freedom, and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering this career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of this tragic incident for her Black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.”

It was really interesting to read something so different and difficult. I must admit that I struggled to write a review and actually read a few others first. I don’t usually do this as I find that other people’s responses sometimes override or re-shape my own. Anyway, this is what I eventually wrote:

We Are Not Like Them: A NovelWe Are Not Like Them: A Novel by Christine Pride
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a difficult and interesting book and I found myself immersed in the story to the point that I couldn’t stop reading. I like the idea of alternating points of view and feel that this worked well. However, I am not sure about the main characters. I definitely learned something about black people’s experience of racism by reading the parts from Riley’s point of view. The chapters from Jen’s side were more problematic as she seemed to be so blinkered. Surely, growing up with a black friend would have given her more insight?

I also agree with many of the comments on here that the whole book felt as if it had been written to be used as a teaching guide. It would probably be useful for the discussion points. As to how authentic it is I cannot comment as a white woman from the UK! Well worth reading, though, despite my reservations.

View all my reviews

I am now reading another book from a different genre! But you will have to wait until next week to see my response.

Until then:

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 25/10/21

Hello, everyone! We are having a lot of “family problems” at the moment, which I won’t bore you with, but this means that I can’t write a full post today. Our issues have exacerbated my ill health and I am feeling very weak, stressed and tired. I hope that everything improves during the week so that I can write the usual Reading Roundup post on Wednesday and an Outfits of the Week post on Friday.

I saw this lovely set of photos on Twitter over the weekend and must share them with you:

Collage by the photographer Josef Morgoš

Isn’t that beautiful?

Anyway, that’s all for now…

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Posted in Family, Health | 1 Comment

Outfits of the week 22/10/21

In today’s post I have a couple of outfits to show you from the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there is nothing from this week as I have been really struggling, but I am pleased that I did manage to put two rather nice ensembles together from my wardrobe.

Here is the first one:

Outfit of the day 16/10/21 with Hermès’ Plumes en Fête shawl

Outfit details:

  • Mid-grey cashmere v-neck jumper – Marks and Spencer.
  • Grey cotton jeans – Lands’ End.
  • Grey crystal and gold earrings – Swarovski.
  • Multi-colour enamel and rose gold Hera bangle – Liberty of London.
  • Pewter leather white soled trainers – Hotter.
  • Cashmere and silk 140cm shawl in grey, purple, pink, blue and orange – Plumes en Fête by Hermès.

We were only leaving the house to have our flu vaccinations, but I have to take any opportunity to wear “proper” clothing and accessories! In addition, I carried my gorgeous Massaccesi handbag, which toned nicely with my new trainers from Hotter. Perhaps the handbag’s style is a little too elevated to be worn with such footwear, but the colours were spot on.

What do you think?

Diane handbag by Marco Massaccesi
Switch II in pewter by Hotter

The second outfit:

Outfit of the day 17/10/21 with Liberty’s Morris scarf

Outfit details:

  • Navy cashmere v-neck jumper – John Lewis.
  • Navy stretch cord trousers – Lands’ End.
  • Blue, navy, black and white enamel and rose gold Ianthe bangle – Liberty of London.
  • Cobalt blue crystal and silver earrings – Sonrisa Boutique.
  • Navy, blue and white silk chiffon scarf – Morris by Liberty of London.

Whilst writing this post, I have been glancing back through the blog to see how I wrote about some of these accessories in the past. It certainly made me think how fortunate I am to be able to afford such beauties!

Now, I just need to find enough energy to wear them more often.

On that note I will wish you all a very Happy Weekend!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 20/10/21

This week’s reading has been a feast of the Fae, a festival of fantasy! Yes, I have immersed myself in further books from Sarah J Maas’s series: A Court of Thorns and Roses. Fine fun and fierce frivolity?

What the f…?

OK, that’s enough!

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

My first book of the week was the third in her series, titled A Court of Wings and Ruin. Here is the blurb:

”Looming war threatens all Feyre holds dear in the third volume of the #1 New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.”

Once again, I devoured this book quickly in an attempt to distract myself from my situation. I must admit that this series is doing a pretty good job on that front! This is my review written on the Goodreads site:

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, how do I write this review? After my rather hyperbolic responses to the first two books, I am a bit stuck this time.

First of all, I did enjoy the read and the ride. There were many satisfying moments and scenes and several loose ends tied. Other storylines were left open for further books, although I think this series should have ended here. As this is such a long book, perhaps it could have done with some further editing and pruning to improve the pace. Some of the early chapters did drag a bit and the finale was wrapped up too quickly.

In addition, a good editor needs to get to grips with Maas’s repetitive use of phrases. Yes, we know that Fayre is Rhys’s “mate”. I think we have been told this often enough. Her coy language in the sex scenes is quite funny – perhaps this is to keep the books under the Young Adult label?

Anyway, I shall continue to read on. Books of this type really help with my current poor situation. Onwards to the next one!

View all my reviews
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

While I was waiting for my reservation of book four in the series, I decided to read the novella, which is 3.1, fitting between three and four: A Court of Frost and Starlight. This is the blurb:

”Months after the explosive events in A Court of Wings and Ruin, Feyre, Rhys, and their companions are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.”

I enjoyed this book also and here is my response:

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3.1)A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, so this was just a filler book between volumes 3 and 4. I am reading this series for pure escapism and I don’t expect high literary merit. Very simply, I enjoy reading about these characters and settings. The books take me away from my daily worries and concerns and succeed very well at those tasks.

So, read and enjoy if you like this series. Now, on to book 4!

View all my reviews

So, that is all for this week. I am now going to return to my new book and try to fill my head with that. Today has been tough so far and I need to escape >>>>>>>>>>

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 18/10/21 with something shiny!

Hello and welcome to a new week on this blog. Apologies for the lack of a proper post on Friday, but I hope I can continue as usual this week. My health is even worse than normal at the moment and I seem to be spending most of my time in bed. I have got a few posts planned, though!

Today I have some nice and shiny items to show you. They arrived last week and I wore them on Saturday when I went to the medical centre for the annual flu vaccination. In fact, I put together a really nice outfit, even though I would only be out of the house for a short while. I have to take any opportunity I can get! I will show you the full outfit in Friday’s Outfits of the Week post, complete with handbag and shoes.

Anyway, here are the new items…

I think these are a great colour and I love the metallic shine! OK, Hotter (link in the sidebar) may have a reputation for selling “granny” footwear, but, to be honest, I don’t care. Their shoes are comfortable and well made. If you choose carefully, you can find some nice designs. These looked great with one of my handbags!

They have a sale on at the moment…

Well, that’s all for today. See you on Wednesday for the usual Reading Roundup and on Friday for Outfits of the Week. Don’t forget that this is the fifth year of the blog, so there are a lot of other posts to explore, if you are interested.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 15/10/21 – Taking a short break

I had planned to write a proper “Outfits of the Week” post for this evening. Unfortunately, I have been very weak and ill for a while and feel particularly bad today. So, I will postpone that post until next week and hope that I feel stronger on Monday.

I do hope that you all have a good weekend!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 13/10/21

Hello to all of you keen readers! I must admit that I have only finished one book this week – but what a book!!!

You may remember that Joe Abercrombie is one of my most favourite authors of all time. In fact, I believe that I have read just about all of his books to date and this one, The Wisdom of Crowds, is his latest…

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie

The book is the final part of his The Age of Madness trilogy. Here is the blurb:

Chaos. Fury. Destruction.

The Great Change is upon us . . .

Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies . . . while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver’s ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together . . .”

I really took my time to read this as I love Abercrombie’s work so much. None of that “skipping through to get to the good bit”  – all of the “bits” are good! This is my review as posted on Goodreads:

The Wisdom of Crowds (The Age of Madness, #3)The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG! Wow! Amazing! I simply can’t believe it! Phew!

Right, now that my first reactions are out of the way, what can I say about this book? Well, it was certainly packed full with brilliant writing, as I have come to expect from Joe Abercrombie. I love his dark and gritty humour, his beautifully written settings, his clever plot twists and his well-drawn characters. Reading the Kindle edition, it was so interesting to see other people’s highlights of particularly witty sections. But amongst the humour there is always tragedy and some of the worst traits of human nature.

For once, some of the plot twists had me gasping with surprise. With other authors, I usually spot them coming long before they arrive. In this book, there are some really shocking and, yes, bleak moments, but always leavened with that tone of sardonic amusement.

The characters are interesting and well-developed throughout all three books. I like the way that Abercrombie rarely writes wholly evil or totally good characters. Most are leavened with opposite traits, so that they appear like true human beings, flawed as we really are. Some of his characters may surprise the reader with unexpected good actions or, more often, the total reverse!

Now that I have finished the book, I am going to look through the list of Abercrombie’s work and make sure that I have read everything published to date. When I have done that, I will have to occupy myself with lesser writers until he gives us his next work.

I can’t wait!

View all my reviews

I am so fortunate that there are so many other fantastic books to keep me busy! My life seems very dark and grim these days, so fantasy, thrillers and science fiction really help to take my mind away from my troubles. I have already started a new book and I will tell you which one next week (or you could just have a look at the Goodreads widget in the sidebar, which tells all!).

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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