So – business at work has been fairly relentless just recently so reading has been the escape! Highlights from the last month to 6 weeks show a good mix.
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is set during the Second World War and takes the story of two heroic but relatively ordinary young women who work for and with SOE (the special ops of WWII). It grips, you identify with the characters and yet I can not envisage being that physically brave – ever. I laughed and cried with this book. It’s on the Carnegie Award short list – fingers crossed!
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is the story of a young woman who feels she is a bit of a misfit in the world where dragons walk about in their shape-changed format, to keep the people and the dragons from going to war again. As a major celebration of the long term peace approaches Seraphina finds out some strange truths about herself and her family, ad has to decide where her loyalties lay. a major US best seller this is a fascinating take on the usual people versus dragons tale. Loved it, can’t wait for the next volume.
Jeremy de Quidt’s Feathered Man is a dark, thrilling quest set in a Victorian Germany and full of scary and rather odd characters, some from Mayan mythology, some just downright wicked. Will definitely appeal to the slightly ghoulish.
I have also been reading a bit on my iPad. Two books recently – Fragments by Dan Wells – which failed to grab me, but that may have been the delivery media rather than the book. Plus Anne Cassidy – Killing Rachel – a good thriller, with a surprising series of twists. I do find it harder to engage with on screen reading, and I must admit I only supplement my reading of hard copy books with iPad materials. Wonder if taht will change over time?
Having had a couple of days off work with a very annoying reappearance of an old health problem there was only one thing I could do – read!
I have long admired Catherine Fisher – Incarceron and Sapphique are amazing fantasy novels. Her latest The Obsidian Mirror is another triumph. It promises a whole series to follow - and I can’t wait. Oberon Venn is Jake’s godfather since his own father mysteriously disappeared some time before. But Venn is very obsessive and secretive and Jake is convinced Venn murdered his father. This is the page turning totally gripping First Book of the Chronoptika – an adventure in time and space, with all the elements of a country house mystery and a thriller set in the worst parts of Victorian London. A literary style novel that fully engages the excitement as well as giving food for thought.
Interestingly – as I finished The Obsidian Mirror there arrived a publishers proof of one of my other favourite authors – Eoin Colfer. Warp: Book 1 – The Reluctant Assassin has many similar elements – time travel, Victorian London slums, engaging characters and a ‘thrill a minute’ approach. I imagine the style will appeal to established Colfer fans when it is published later this year – and it is a thoroughly enjoyable, fun, thrilling read.
To make a change from both of those I followed up with the latest Tim Bowler Sea of Whispers. This is an exploration of growing up in a remote community, and of the hostility certain small communities exhibit to change or difference. Hetty has always felt different, and has a sense of otherness that marks her out from her peers and community. The arrival of an old woman washed up on the shore of the remote island in a storm unleashes a series of events and actions that appear to doom all involved. Tim always writes with a style and elegance that makes his novels very readable - well worth trying.
the garden in the snow
Lovely to have the luxury of a week off in January – and nothing much in the diary to do during it! So catching up on household tasks has been successful. The snow got in the way of a lunch engagement on Monday, and then was fairly hairy getting back from Kettering on Friday and so it stopped me getting out to a YLG Unconference on Saturday. Such a shame.
I really do love snow – the quiet it brings and the lovely shapes the snow-covered trees make, but we are never prepared for it and it always seems to cause chaos!
So, I have spent the week reading, on the whole. I have been struggling with Umberto Eco The Prague Cemetery. Not because it’s a bad book, just that it is so complex with layer upon layer of intrigue and conspiracy and a diary format that one has to concentrate on. I had to finish it though, as it is a compelling read, wickedly funny in places, and very dark. Worth the effort but needs application to follow it through.
Having just seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey I shall now reread the original – only 40 years after first reading it! The film was good – though rather overlong, and I am not sure seeing all the conflicts is necessary, but I shall have to see the next two films to make up my mind!
Work beckons for next week – wonder what the in box will show up!
Filed under Diary, Reviews
OK so it has been a very busy autumn. Work just took off after the summer break. We worked flat out but had a good 75th Celebration in Gateshead. The whole day seems to have gone down well so we could do another and add day conferences to our offerings. Meanwhile Will and I had a lovely weekend just enjoying ourselves and also seeing Sheila, Harold and Caroline for Sunday lunch.
Since then it was just a matter of keeping going till Christmas when I had a chunk of leave booked and planned on just relaxing – which I did! We had a super Christmas, the party was the day before Christmas Eve so we had a shorter lead in than usual. The actual holiday was spent in watching some favourite films, playing cards, board games. Saw the aged Ps after Boxing Day and had a pleasant day with them – watching some old cine films that Roy had had put onto DVD including their wedding day!
Sarah left on Sunday to join Becky and Pete in London for New Year, so Will and I are off to the pub tonight to celebrate with friends!
Reading wise I have been catching up with a lot of the Carnegie long list titles – some good ones on there, it will be a really difficult decision for the judges this year. Have read about three quarters of them and then decided I’d do a bit of adult reading(!) over the holiday and have been enjoying Ben Aaronovitch, Irving Finkel and Daphne du Maurier. Will have to get back to some kids books soon – they’re piling up a bit!
Filed under Diary, Reviews
A busy month and an unconscious choice of thrillers for the summer month. Not sure why but a real mix made for some enjoyable reading. Nicola Upson has chosen to have Josephine Tey as the main character in her novels – and I read a second – Two for Sorrow, and found it as enjoyable as the first I had read, An Expert in Murder. The character Tey is a playwright and author as was Tey herself, and has a friend who is an Inspector in the Police – a superb ploy on which to base a series of novels. I shall read more! In fact Upson’s Inspector is a similar character to Tey’s own Inspector Grant who features in To Love and Be Wise, a short but fulfilling read where a Hollywood photographer going missing in the English countryside seems to provide an insoluble riddle. A lovely read!
Then to more gritty titles… I find Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar novels a little samey so was delighted to find Just One Look. This is the story of the collapse of a family who, on the surface, appear to have an ideal existence. Grace met her husband when recovering from a major accident at a theatre gig and they now have a good marriage and a good life, which for some reason falls apart the day Grace brings home a pack of photos she’s just had developed and there is an old photo somehow slipped into the family snapshots. Her husband, as a young man, is seen in the photo… This thriller has several grim deaths, a handful of really unpleasant characters and a plot that keeps you enthralled from page 1 but you always want to know why, so you just have to keep reading. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is another of those iconic characters who, if they were slightly less well adapted would be a complete drop out. But Jack is always in the midst of the action, and always one step ahead of the authorities. Gone Tomorrow is a another super read which starts with a seeming suicide bomber on the subway in NY, and ends in political intrigue.
Also, with much less grit, a great deal of humour and a frisson of sci-fi Jasper Fforde’s The Woman Who Died A Lot is the next Thursday Next novel. I love these, such fun, with all the thriller elements but a wacky world where book characters, golems and werewolves police the literary world, and where big business is run from Swindon! Read the series – they are great!
I was going to be so organised and add things on a regular basis – well that really must be acknowledged as the end of good intentions and I’ll just blog when I can!
The cast at the launch of the play at Sweet Venues
August flew by in a whirl of activity which started in Edinburgh at the Fringe – with Call Me and the girls. I think I amazed Sarah when she saw me chatting to random strangers about her play and urging them to come! Interestingly, it’s part of what being a librarian is all about - talking to strangers! Anyway, the play was a success with above average attendances. In fact the venue told them their bad nights were everyone else’s average nights! Some nice reviews, though the Scotsman was a bit sniffy, but audiences loved it! We also managed to fit in quite a few other shows when we weren’t working the Mile touting for business!
We came home by train and then I spent a day packing before dashing off to Helsinki for the World Library and Information Congress of IFLA. Turned out to be a very busy congress, lots to do and see. As I have blogged about it in detail at work I suggest anyone interested look there. I didn’t have much free time (2 half days in fact) but found that what I saw of Helsinki was delightful. The history of Finland is short as they were part of Sweden and then Russia so their style of architecture is very mixed, but their love of nature, high regard for culture and their sense of simplicity and design make for a very appealing city – I shall visit again (I hope).
The whole of the congress was complicated as I had the most awful virus cold/flu which gave me an awful cough and lethargy (which unfortunately is still here with me).
Once I returned it was back to work and catch up on all the things that needed action – and that proved to be not to bad as I had had good wifi throughout the Helsinki stay and that made life simpler!
Then I had a couple of days at the IBBY World Congress in London and had the joy of hearing Shaun Tan talk about his illustration and the why’s of what he does – a fascinating very unassuming man. There were lots of folks I knew (both UK and international) so lovely to catch up and also to hear the talks throughout the day. The other day spent there was as exhibitor at a YLG/SLA table boosting our wares – and very successful too.
A few days later and it was some more R&R – at Burghley. The weather was very variable, and although we did walk the Cross Country course on the Saturday we saw little as there were so many people there. Usually you get to some of the more distant jumps and the crowd thins and you can relax – well that never happened! But a successful trip where I was joined by Jane, Becky and Pete and Will, as well as Jan, Rachel, Barney and Boo. The shopping was good too!
Today it is Will’s 60th birthday – and he seems thrilled with it! Big party at The GCR in Loughborough on Sunday – looking forward to it!
Leave for a whole week – bliss!! The weather is very wearing though – June had the highest rainfall on record and July seems to be the month of floods and cloud! The water meadows have come into their own and look like a major lake, and friends with river frontages are keeping a close eye on the levels!
Meanwhile Dad has had his cataract operations and seems to be good from it, Mum is, as always, stuck in her chair. Any suggestions from Will tend to be dismissed as they can’t be bothered so we just have to let it be.
Girls very busy on their way to Edinburgh and the Fringe – Call Me promises to be fun – looking forward to our week up there…
Oundle Festival is proving to be good yet again, in fact this is the first year under the new director and the programme seems even more varied than before. Darius Brubeck was wonderful jazz on Friday, Monday we had Kit and James (Kit Hesketh-Harvey) – wonderfully clever, rude and so funny plus a wonderful singer to boot. Yesterday we had a day at Boughton House with a tour and a concert (lute and viol). Looking forward to the folk, world music and orchestra for the rest of the week.
If the rain holds off we shall go and photograph some more old railway stations for Will’s new book, otherwise catching up with washing, ironing an dreading is the order of the day.