Reading roundup 15/07/20

Well, something kind of good has come from my stroke. It’s very weird, but also rather satisfying and pleasing for me.

I’m in the middle of reading Lois McMaster Bujold’s World of the Five Gods series – I wrote a review of the first book, The Curse of Chalion, in last week’s Reading Roundup. The second book, Paladin of Souls, a multi-award winner, is the book I am writing about this week. Now, I actually read this book for the first time many years ago and immediately rated it amongst my favourites. I have often thought of re-reading it since, but there are many other great books to read, so I put it on the back-burner, as it were. But recently, as I had bought the whole trilogy in ebook format, I decided to read them all in order, so Paladin of Souls became last week’s book.

And it was like reading an entirely new book! I couldn’t remember the plot at all!

It turned out that I only had vague memories of the main female character and the fact that some romance was involved. This seemed really amusing as I continued to read what was, for the post-stroke me, a newly minted tale!

So, here is the blurb:

Three years have passed since the widowed Dowager Royina Ista found release from the curse of madness that kept her imprisoned in her family’s castle of Valenda. Her newfound freedom is costly, bittersweet with memories, regrets, and guilty secrets – for she knows the truth of what brought her land to the brink of destruction. And now the road – escape – beckons… A simple pilgrimage, perhaps. Quite fitting for the Dowager Royina of all Chalion.

Yet something else is free, too – something beyond deadly. To the north lies the vital border fortress of Porifors. Memories linger there as well, of wars and invasions and the mighty Golden General of Jokona. And someone, something, watches from across that border – humans, demons, gods.

Ista thinks her little party of pilgrims wanders at will. But whose? When Ista’s retinue is unexpectedly set upon not long into its travels, a mysterious ally appears – a warrior nobleman who fights like a berserker. The temporary safety of her enigmatic champion’s castle cannot ease Ista’s mounting dread, however, when she finds his dark secrets are entangled with hers in a net of the gods’ own weaving.

In her dreams the threads are already drawing her to unforeseen chances, fateful meetings, fearsome choices. What the inscrutable gods commanded of her in the past brought her land to the brink of devastation. Now, once again, they have chosen Ista as their instrument. And again, for good or for ill, she must comply.

And this is my review as written on the Goodreads site:

Paladin of SoulsPaladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How I love this book! First of all, I love it because the main character is a middle aged woman, who is not beautiful or gifted with extraordinary powers. She could almost be unlikeable at the beginning of the book (continuing on from her few appearances in the first book of the series, The Curse of Chalion). However, as the story unfolds, she grows and develops in character and power to become quite extraordinary indeed!

This book is haunting. From a slow beginning, the tale develops its pace with incredible twists and unexpected moves. So, I cannot write about them here as I don’t want to spoil the surprises. All I can say is that it is well-worth your time. There are other wonderful characters, both male and female, and events that will keep you reading late into the night.

And I will not wait ten years this time before I read it again!

View all my reviews

OK, it’s not a detailed review, but there are plenty of others to read online. I just want to get on with reading the last book in the trilogy!

The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne📖📚📖📚📖

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Update 13/07/20 with new stuff!

Well, I have bought some new things, but they are not very exciting, I must admit. Since I retired from work, I have given up wearing bras and have, instead, bought pretty vests. These are much more comfortable for me, especially as I have put on so much weight. I found some nice ones on the Marks and Spencer website the other day and they arrived on Friday. I was going to write about them straight away, but felt too ill.

So, here they are today…

Pretty cotton vests – Marks and Spencer

Practical and pretty!

I am now madly saving for the Hermès Autumn/Winter 2020 scarf season, so there will be very few “new purchase” posts like this one, for a while. That’s assuming that I can keep on track. I have a lot of money to save up! Eek!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 08/07/20

To make up for the non-post last week, I read two books this week. And they were both great books!

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughtet

The first was The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (Will Trent #10). I was so lucky to be able to read this quickly after publication, thanks to our library’s ebook service. Here is the blurb:

Atlanta, Georgia. Present day. A young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead. The police investigate but the trail goes cold. Until a chance assignment takes GBI investigator Will Trent to the state penitentiary, and to a prisoner who says he recognizes the MO. The attack looks identical to the one he was accused of eight years earlier. The prisoner’s always insisted that he was innocent, and now he’s sure he has proof. The killer is still out there.

As Will digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the original case in order to reach the truth. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear. And now he needs medical examiner Sara Linton to help him hunt down a ruthless murderer. But when the past and present collide, everything Will values is at stake . . .

I really enjoy reading Slaughter’s work as her books enable me to escape from my troubles for a while – they are so gripping! This is my four star review on Good Reads:

The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10)The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want to read a book which is totally gripping, dark, heart-stopping, fast-paced and satisfying, then you can’t go wrong if you choose this one. The author very cleverly uses two separate timelines to tell the story and brings back a well-loved character from the past. The relationships in the book are well-drawn and interesting. The unfolding crimes are cruel and bloody.

And this is my problem with the book and why I have only given it four stars. I expect male writers to write revolting deaths for their female crime victims, but these, for me, went totally over the top. I have a strong stomach and, yes, this is only fiction, but for a woman to write such horrible murders inflicted in this graphic way on women – I felt so conflicted.

I love Karin Slaughter’s writing and this book will not put me off reading her others, but bear in mind that her name can be so appropriate at times!

View all my reviews

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Now for my second read of the week. Many years ago, I read a great book called Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold. The book stayed in my head but I could never find any of her other works in libraries. Now that we have ebooks, many older works have become available to a wider readership and so I was thrilled to find that this book was actually the second part of a trilogy. I bought the whole set and have just finished The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods #01). Here is the blurb:

A man broken in body and spirit, Cazaril, has returned to the noble household he once served as page, and is named, to his great surprise, as the secretary-tutor to the beautiful, strong-willed sister of the impetuous boy who is next in line to rule.

It is an assignment Cazaril dreads, for it will ultimately lead him to the place he fears most, the royal court of Cardegoss, where the powerful enemies, who once placed him in chains, now occupy lofty positions. In addition to the traitorous intrigues of villains, Cazaril and the Royesse Iselle, are faced with a sinister curse that hangs like a sword over the entire blighted House of Chalion and all who stand in their circle. Only by employing the darkest, most forbidden of magics, can Cazaril hope to protect his royal charge—an act that will mark the loyal, damaged servant as a tool of the miraculous, and trap him, flesh and soul, in a maze of demonic paradox, damnation, and death.

This the review I wrote on Goodreads:

The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods, #1)The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is going to be one of the books that I read over and over again. I have a few like this on my shelves, mainly by Guy Gavriel Kay, and so this will be in honoured company. It is certainly a slow burner. What seems like a simple tale at the beginning, develops into a beautifully written fantasy story. Bujold’s writing is gorgeous and her characterisation is at the centre of the book.

For those who like their fantasy fiction full of fighting, danger, death, destruction, romance, journeys and intrigue, there is more than enough to keep them interested. For those who love well drawn scenes and characters, this book is for you too. My only tiny niggle was the number of names beginning with I! This stroke-addled brain struggled a bit with this.

Anyway, I will now go and enjoy the sequel: Paladin of Souls…

View all my reviews

So, that has been a highly successful and satisfying week!

Happy Reading to you all…

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 06/07/20 with a lovely gift from a lovely friend

This post should have been written a while ago, when I first received this gift. I am so glad that I have managed to write about it today.

Pewter scarf ring – Eccentric

A dear friend sent me this lovely scarf ring out of the blue. I am so fortunate to have such kind friends. Isn’t it beautiful? The metal is pewter which will look lovely with so many of my scarves as it shimmers beautifully in the light. The shop is Ladycrow Scotland on Etsy, which sells scarves, jewellery and scarf rings. The gift was nicely packaged with an information card inside, which will help me to look after the ring properly and keep it in good condition.

I am too ill and tired today to take modelling shots, but will try to do so later in the week. We have spent some hours trying to do home admin jobs, which is so taxing on my memory. This continues to be shaky and patchy, and wears me out!

Right, back to quiet and peaceful (I hope) reading.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 03/07/20 – new season Plumes en Fête shawl colours!

This is a quick post to inform scarfies that I have added the Hermès Autumn/Winter 2020 season cashmere/silk 140cm shawls’ colourways and purchasing codes to the Scarf of the Moment post for Plumes en Fête. They will be available to purchase soon (I hope).

If you are interested in the scarves and shawls for Hermès’ new season, have a look at the Purse Forum thread: Autumn/Winter 2020 scarves. Loads of the colourways have been added and more are arriving on there every day.

OK, I will give you a quick taster. To see the whole offer, click on the link in the first paragraph!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 01/07/20

I’m feeling a little embarrassed today because I haven’t finished my latest book in time! I love reading Karin Slaughter’s books so much and I decided that I would take my time with this one:

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughtet

So, I’m sorry, but you will have to wait until next week for my response (it’s great so far, but I do have some issues with it).

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 29/06/20: It’s here at last – Massaccesi reveal!

I’m so happy today! Despite feeling very ill, if I could jump up and down I would. I ordered another Massaccesi handbag back in February, then the pandemic hit and I waited and waited…. and now it has arrived! Hooray!

Here is the reveal:

 

First, the open box…

Next, a hint of the handbag inside its dust cover…

Finally, the full reveal…

Yes, Marco Massaccesi has really outdone himself this time: a full size Victoria in grape Croco leather with handles in carmine Nappa, dark gunmetal fittings and a lilac lining. Isn’t it beautiful? By the way, in case you were wondering, it is not real crocodile leather! As usual, the quality of the work is exceptional with great attention to detail. In my experience of the Massaccesi brand, any problems are put right and Marco personally works with his customers to ensure that they are satisfied with the final product. That is the beauty of buying bespoke rather than off-the-shelf. I am so fortunate that I can afford to do this.

Here are some more photos, including the lovely lilac lining…

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I’ve kind of broken my colour rules here because the shade is more of a reddish purple than I usually go for, but it will work so beautifully with my navy and grey winter wardrobe, especially my grey leopard coat…

Tanya coat in grey by Masai Clothing Company

Um, I think some grey ankle boots might be just the thing! And of course, I need to improve my fitness so I can go out of the house once I am allowed to do so.

Now, I will go back to stroking my new bag (and thinking about where on Earth I am going to store it!).

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 26/06/20

I had plans for a nice post today, but the heat has made it virtually impossible for me to think straight, never mind take photos or write something coherent. My various conditions, especially lung issues, are very difficult to manage when it is hot and humid. I am stuck in bed with a new electric fan nearby and am sitting on towels. My hope is that the weather cools down as soon as possible.

So, I hope you are all OK and I will try to post something more interesting next week.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 24/06/20

I have watched a lot of TV this week but also finished two books. One was really gripping, the other somewhat disappointing.

The Calling by Alison Bruce

The first book was Alison Bruce’s The Calling, #03 in her D.C. Gary Goodhew Mustery series. Here is the blurb:

Kaye Whiting went to buy a birthday present and didn’t come back. She isn’t dead, or physically injured. But she is alone and very, very scared.

Fifty miles away in Cambridge town centre a deeply disturbed young woman is standing by a payphone. She knows she often feels compelled to do harmful things and is driven by a desire to make a call.

DC Gary Goodhew is one of the detectives assigned to find Kaye and when her body is discovered the only clue to the potential murderer is a woman’s voice on his answerphone saying, “Kaye  isn’t the first and won’t be the last!”

This was the third book I had read in the series, but I think I am now going to take a break from it. The reason for the decision will become clear when you read my review as written on Goodreads:

The Calling (DC Gary Goodhew Mystery #3)The Calling by Alison Bruce
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but found that this one was not up to scratch. Then, I read that The Calling was actually written before the others!

Anyway, the book had exciting and gripping moments but also a lot of flaws. The sheer number of female characters was confusing (and this was not a result of my memory issues as other reviewers have said the same thing). Some parts of the book were unnecessarily explicit. Also the story arc was muddled in places with scenes which could have easily been cut because they added nothing to the plot.

I will now take a break from the series, but may return to later books another time

View all my reviews

Nemesis by Rory Clements

My second book of the week was Nemesis by Rory Clements, #03 in his Tom Wilde series. With my poor memory, I had totally forgotten that I had already read the first two books in the series a few years ago – Corpus (Reading roundup 15/11/17) and Nucleus (Reading roundup 10/10/18). Anyway, here is the blurb:

A race against time to unmask a Nazi spy

In a great English house, a young woman offers herself to one of the most powerful and influential figures in the land – but this is no ordinary seduction. She plans to ensure his death . . .

On holiday in France, Professor Tom Wilde discovers his brilliant student Marcus Marfield, who disappeared two years earlier to join the International Brigades in Spain, in the Le Vernet concentration camp in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Wilde secures his release just as German tanks roll into Poland.

Meanwhile, a U-boat sinks the liner Athenia in the Atlantic with many casualties, including Americans, onboard. Goebbels claims Churchill put a bomb in the ship to blame Germany and to lure America into the war.

As the various strands of an international conspiracy begin to unwind, Tom Wilde will find himself in great personal danger. For just who is Marcus Marfield? And where does his loyalty lie?

This book was so enjoyable, as you can see from my review on Goodreads:

Nemesis (Tom Wilde, #3)Nemesis by Rory Clements
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read all three books in this superb series and can honestly say that they get better and better. The author has so clearly meticulously researched the background to the period (the 1930s leading up to the beginning of WWII), but uses this information in a seamless way. I feel that I learn from these books, but the author is not at all didactic. The main characters are interesting, different and intriguing. The plot is exciting and subtle with many twists.

I really hope that this series continues as I would love to see how Clements uses the events of WWII with his main characters. I am such a fan of his writing that I have another book of his lined up. I cannot wait to read it!

View all my reviews

I am not sure what I am going to read next. Maybe one of the non-fiction ebooks younger son sent me for Mother’s Day? I will make up my mind later.

Until next week:

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 22/06/20 with Hermès’ new season scarves!

I had decided that I shouldn’t, couldn’t and wouldn’t buy any more Hermès scarves. After all, I now have more than twenty, in various sizes, and I haven’t been wearing them much recently. During this lockdown period, my health has steadily become even worse and my periods out of bed even fewer. So I told Lovely Husband that my scarf collection was complete. Amazingly, he totally floored me by saying that I could buy some more if I wanted, because they give me so much pleasure and hold their value.

My response was complete shock!

I then looked on the Purse Forum to see if a thread had been started for next season’s scarves, and it has…

Hermès Autumn/Winter 2020 scarves

Here is a teaser (that Greek helmet 💓💓💓):

La Danse des Amazones by Edourd Baribeaud

There are a few revelations so far, but it will develop into a great and detailed thread over the next few months. I can already see that there is one item that I will almost certainly buy. This will be revealed when I have more information about colourways.

Anyway, it is well worth following the thread as it unfolds, if you are an Hermès scarf fan like me. The sheer beauty of the design is always breathtaking.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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