Reading roundup 29/04/20

I have finished one book this week and am part-way through a second. Writing Monday’s post about Liberty of London’s Ianthe design took up a lot of time!

The Sword Saint by C F Iggulden

C F Iggulden’s The Sword Saint is the concluding part of his Empire of Salt fantasy series. Here is the blurb:

Cities have been broken. Empires have fallen. And darkness is coming.

Success has drawn a cold gaze. A false king seeks dominion. His soldiers will bring desolation and despair to Darien. With treachery on all sides, the ancient capital looks set to fall.

Yet within the walls of that great city, a small team gathers. Tellius knows each one: a hunter, a gambler, a dead man, a wielder of threads – and the sword saint of Shiang. When Darien herself is threatened, Tellius will ask them to stand.

A city is worth more than the lives of those within. Darien’s streets and courts and homes and taverns are a bonfire on the hill, a beacon of life and light in the world.

That is why they will die to save her.

This is the review that I posted on Goodreads:

The Sword Saint (Empire of Salt #3)The Sword Saint by C.F. Iggulden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, I have to admit that I had a stroke last year. I am saying this because my thoughts on this book are kind of tangled up with my experience. The big issue for me is that I couldn’t remember enough of the previous books to be able to make sense of this one. I could remember some of the characters, but the story was mostly gone so I briefly scanned through books 1 and 2 first. However, this third book introduced something completely new: a third group of warlike people. This didn’t really fit with the trajectory of the series so far.

I have really enjoyed Iggulden’s historical fiction, having read most of these books. His foray into Fantasy needed some more work, in my opinion. He brought in new monsters/war machines and some kind of supernatural creature, in this third book, but didn’t really use them well or explain them. The book also ended very abruptly: as I neared the end, I kept thinking that there were not enough pages left to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion!

It will be interesting to see if he ventures into this genre again.

View all my reviews

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

I’m now reading a completely different genre with Antonio Iturbe’s The Librarian of Auschwitz and I will give you my verdict on the book next week (I hope).

Until then, Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Scarf of the moment: Liberty of London’s Ianthe

I am planning to write a couple of posts about my favourite Liberty of London scarves. There are two designs that I particularly love: Hera and Ianthe. This first post is about the iconic Ianthe pattern.

The post will mirror the Scarf of the Moment format which I have already used for my Hermès scarves, but will deviate a little. There is no “scarf story” for these designs, for example. Anyway, I hope this post is informative and enjoyable to read. If you have any information that I could add, or you spot any errors, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

So, here is my latest purchase of the Ianthe design. This is a slightly modified version called Ianthe Star:

Ianthe Star by Liberty of London

Gorgeous, isn’t it! This is an Ianthe variation where the stylised flowers have been replaced with stars. Here are my first Liberty Ianthe scarf purchases, which have been posted several times on this blog:

Ianthe silk scarf by Liberty of London

Ianthe silk scarf by Liberty of London

Outfit of the day 10/12/19 with Liberty’s Ianthe varuna wool shawl

Description

Ianthe is a wonderful sinuous Art Nouveau pattern designed by R. Beauclair in 1900 and then re-drawn later by David Haward’s studio. It has been re-designed several times and is currently available in different versions on contemporary scarves. Each season Liberty uses the design in new ways. As well as on scarves, the pattern has been widely used over the years on clothing, upholstery, table wear, curtains, rugs, jewellery and many other items.

My Ianthe Star scarf is printed on silk twill and measures 90cm on each side. The colours are bright and cheerful: a navy background with two other shades of blue, as well as pink, peach and a golden yellow. There is a beautifully designed wide border between two bands of yellow and grey. The hem is rolled backwards, unlike the classic Hermès rolled hems. Liberty’s crest, with the words “Liberty London”, can be seen in one corner.

Colourways

Here are some other contemporary Liberty scarves with the Ianthe pattern used in different ways and in other colours. First we have traditional silk twill square 70cm and 90cm scarves:

And these are stoles, some in silk, some in wool:

Ianthe is also available in Liberty’s famous tana lawn fabric. Other designers have used this to make scarves and other items which can often be seen on sites such as Etsy and eBay.

Design story

Here are the “Editor’s Notes” from the Liberty of London website:

The Ianthe Star scarf is crafted from rich silk twill and expertly printed in Italy with the reimagining of an archival Liberty artwork – a life-long modern icon to brighten up daily dressing.

Whether looped around your neck or twisted through the handles of a tote, a Liberty silk scarf is a heroine of versatile styling. This square scarf is printed with Ianthe Star – a twinklingly modern reinterpretation of Liberty’s Art Nouveau Ianthe design, with stars replacing the flowers in a nod to the ‘Seaside Surrealism’ of famous 1930s female artists. This contemporary interpretation has been printed in Italy onto an expertly-woven silk twill, using innovative technologies alongside specialist finishing.

Details

These photos are some close-ups of my new Ianthe Star scarf in a slideshow format:

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How I wear the design

This slideshow contains some of my outfit collages with my Ianthe scarves. I haven’t yet worn my latest addition to the collection, so will add further collages when I do!

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Scarf ties

I have taken some quick photos of possible scarf ties:

Ianthe Star – scarf ties

Clockwise from the left: criss-cross knot, asymmetric wrap, half bow knot, casual bias fold tie, asymmetric wrap (other way round), and cowboy cowl knot. (I must apologise for the lighting in these photos, it was such a sunny day when I took them!).

Other items made in the Ianthe design

I mentioned above that Liberty of London and other companies have made a huge range of items in the pattern over the years. As you might expect, I own some Ianthe designs other than scarves (the bag and shoes are by Clarks). I even made a Roman blind from Ianthe fabric for my first house back in the 1980s!

Ianthe design – Liberty of London

If you do an image search on Google, for example, you will find thousands of products made with this lovely pattern. Here are a few:

Ianthe – Liberty of London

Also, have a look at their amazing clothing range made using their scarf patterns. They are totally beyond my price range but they are so beautiful. I’m still trying to forget my Liberty pyjama debacle from last year!

Background information

I have been able to find a few articles and mentions of the Ianthe design, and also others, which may be of interest:

Country Life
Five of the best Liberty prints, from over 140 years of extraordinary history
Detailed article from 2017. Ianthe is mentioned at the end, but the whole of the article is interesting.

Fabrics Galore
The History of Liberty
Once again, a useful recent article with a paragraph about Ianthe and its history.

The Independent
From William Morris to Anna Wintour: How Liberty made an art out of fashion
Details of an exhibition of Liberty over the years.

The Telegraph
Liberty prints and designs through the decades

Wikipedia
Liberty
Short article about the store.


I hope readers have found this exploration of Liberty of London’s Ianthe design both interesting and useful. Once again, if you find any errors or have any additional information that I could add, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best wishes,

Anne

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Update 24/04/20

Hello to you all. I hope you and your loved ones are coping with this awful situation. We are trying our best. Lovely Husband is managing the household as he always does: cooking, organising everything, and doing the food shopping (less often than he used to). Elder Son is carrying on working three days per week, pushing trolleys around in the supermarket and also helping around the house. Younger Son is still living away from home in a shared house and is continuing to work. And me? I am trying to do my bit, but I am really struggling with my mental, as well as physical, health. I am doing my best to stay level and help Elder Son to keep as calm as possible.

To stop myself from breaking down, I am immersing my mind in ebooks, TV (via my iPad), and web surfing. My concentration continues to be very poor and I know that I need to write a post about my latest scarf and a string of emails to family and friends, but I just can’t get started! I will try to get these all done as soon as I can.

One thing before I sign off: I was sad to see, yesterday, that Duo Boots (link in the sidebar) is ceasing to trade. I really loved their boots and shoes and own several pairs, particularly as they designed for wider feet. I expect we will see many companies go under over the next months and years.

Hope that you all have a good weekend.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 22/04/20

Well, it is a bit of a mixed bag of books this week! One put down unfinished, one read and enjoyed, and another halfway through…

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

The first book was Bernard Cornwell’s Fools and Mortals. Here is the blurb:

Lord, what fools these mortals be . . .

In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. As William’s star rises, Richard’s onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.

So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing him onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangled in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime . . . .

This is the book that I didn’t finish. I usually love Cornwell’s work and have read loads of his books and series, but I just couldn’t get very far with this one. In fact, I think that it was my fault rather than anything wrong with the book itself. Perhaps I wasn’t in the right mood to read it. For that reason, I don’t think that it would be fair to write a negative review on Goodreads, or rate the book at all. You never know, I may just give it another go one day.

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

After that experience, I decided to turn to an “old friend”. In this case The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Old Man’s War #3). I had thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the series, so expected a really good read with the third. This is the blurb:

Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game — as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

And I was not disappointed! Here is my review on Goodreads:

The Last Colony (Old Man's War, #3)The Last Colony by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoy Scalzi’s writing style with his sense of humour amongst the plot twists and darker moments. So, I find his books easy to follow and hard to put down. I really enjoyed this third book and was pleased that he brought back his original hero for this one. The idea of an older, wiser head in a younger man’s body is both amusing and interesting.

The author is always able to keep me guessing, which I really enjoy, as he snatches victory from what seems like certain defeat. I am so pleased to see that he has written loads more books since this series, but not so happy that our library service doesn’t have them on the ebook system! Still, the library introduced me to Scalzi’s work, so I am grateful for that!

View all my reviews

Once again, it is well worth your time to spend a while reading other, more detailed, reviews of this book.

The Sword Saint by C F Iggulden

I am currently halfway through the last book in Conn Iggulden’s (writing as C F Iggulden) Empire of Salt fantasy series: The Sword Saint, and will give you my verdict next week. I’m pretty sure that my review with be positive as I am enjoying the book so far!

Until next week…

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 17/04/20

I’m sorry, but I am unable to post today. Will try again on Monday.

Love and best wishes to you all,

Anne

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Reading roundup 15/04/20

I managed to finish my book in time for this week’s Reading Roundup post! It was a very long book and…

… hang on, I had better introduce this properly before I begin!

The Wych Elm by Tana French

The book was The Wych Elm by Tana French. Here is the blurb:

For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.

One night changes everything for Toby. A brutal attack leaves him traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at the family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with cherished memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made. A skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

It has taken me almost two weeks to read it, so here is my review as written on Goodreads:

The Wych ElmThe Wych Elm by Tana French
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If this book had been shorter, maybe about two thirds of the length. Or if it had been more tightly edited. Then, perhaps, I could have awarded more stars. You see, I was really enjoying the book, for the most part, until it began to drag. I had got through the beginning, which was a bit too long, but was setting the scene with lots of characters to remember. Then came a really gripping section, which held my attention (at this point I was thinking perhaps four or even five stars). Unfortunately, the author allowed the tale to become almost repetitive, with echoes of an old TV detective turning up with a killer point, just as we readers were getting comfortable.

So, this is far from being a bad book. It is so close to being a good one that I don’t want to put anyone off reading it! If you are young enough to have time to read 1000s of books in your life, then why not give it a go? If, like me, you have only a short reading life left, then…

View all my reviews

I am feeling quite pleased that I have built up quite a pile, well a virtual one, of ebooks to read. I am not sure which one I will select next, but I feel that a lighter read might be a good idea, or something escapist. You will find out my choice in next week’s Reading Roundup post!

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 13/04/20

I must apologise to regular visitors. My posts are becoming shorter and as for the content…! Today’s is not very exciting as I am continuing to struggle with the current situation and my existing health issues. I had intended to write a post about my new Liberty of London Ianthe Star scarf today, but will try to do that during the week.

Over the weekend, I wore a nice outfit which combined newish grey items with my lovely mousseline “Feather” scarf by Leonard, in turquoise/tan/white/grey/black, which I have shown you many times before…

Outfit of the day with Feather mousseline scarf – Leonard

I think that grey has been a good choice for me and it is useful as a basic colour in my wardrobe. Far better than shades of brown which were fine with my former hair colour, but simply don’t work now that I have grown out my greys. I am sorry for the lack of a collage on this post.

Now, I will return to my book so that I have something to write about for Wednesday’s Reading Roundup!

Love and best wishes to you all,

Anne

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