byslantedlight: (Doyle books)
[livejournal.com profile] caffyolay gave me Top Five books for an entry, and so that's what this will be! Except - so hard! Well, sort of... I mean, book series count, right...? *g* Also, major caveat, these are my current top-five, and I reserve the right to change them at any time! Plus, in a random order as I think of them.

1. Jackdaw by K.J. Charles (and, you know, the other Charm of Magpie books in the series *g*)


2. Point of Hopes (and Point of Knives, Point of Dreams and Fair's Point) by Lisa Barnett and Melissa Scott
PointOfHopesCover PointOfKnivesCover PointOfDreamsCover


3. Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series...
PatrickOBrianBooks


4. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (well of course)
TolkienBooks

5. The Persian Boy by Mary Renault (which of course has a sequel... *g*)


The fifth one was so hard to choose! I thought maybe I shouldn't include any more of my current favourite re-reads, but on the other hand, what's a re-read if not a favourite book? So then it should have been the Mathey/Lynes books by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold, or Joanna Chambers' Enlightenment books or the Society of Gentlemen trilogy by K.J. Charles.. But then just cos I haven't re-read them lately... hmmn... Joanna Harris' Chocolat or Blackberry Wine? Or oh, I used to love Mists of Avalon by Marion Bradley... or... or... oh, just gosh! And that's not counting all the other books on my bookshelf where I thought oh-I-loved-that-I-must-read-that-again-soon... But I guess the above are my go-to books for re-reading. I might be re-reading the Points books right now, in fact... *g* I've got quite comfort-read-y over the last years too, so I do re-read even more than I used to. I can probably blame fanfic for that gorgeous bad habit...

What about you - what's your favourite book?
byslantedlight: (Bookshelf colour (grey853).)
ReadersOfBrokenWheelRecommend-KatarinaBivaldSara has never left Sweden but at the age of 28 she decides its time. She cashes in her savings, packs a suitcase full of books and sets off for Broken Wheel, Iowa, a town where she knows nobody.
Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps some romance too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.
With a little help from the locals, Sara sets up Broken Wheel's first bookstore. The shop might be a little quirky but then again, so is Sara. And as Broken Wheel's story begins to take shape, there are some surprises in store for Sara too...


This was the perfect book to read when I'd just got back from holiday to ordinary life again, because it's one of those gorgeously cosy-adventuresome reads that is just sunshine from one end to the other. *g* It's not what the blurb says though - the first paragraph is right, but the second makes me think that the blurb-writer didn't actually bother to read it at all. In fact, Sara had struck up a letter-writing relationship with a women from Broken Wheel when she was still in Sweden, and when the bookshop she works for closes down she decides to take Amy up on her offer, and go and visit her for a holiday - just to do something different with her life, so that one day she can look back and say when I was young I lived in a small American town for two months...

When she gets there... )
byslantedlight: (Doyle Camera)
...which I already grumbled about when I was posting Wednesday, so I'm not going to any more. Besides - today I have no headache! My whole me feels like it's gone all relaxed again! Also, that means it was neither the malt vinegar I put on me chips, nor the chocolate brownies I made that caused it. So maybe it was just a random headache. Maybe they'll all turn out to be random headaches after all, and I can have cheese and ice cream again... but that's the sort of thing that I'll test carefully... also it doesn't seem terribly likely, but I'm sometimes my old optimistic self about things... *g* In the meantime:
2016-10-13 Sunset
The sun was setting as I came out of an author-talk at 6pm! Sadly, it was not such a good author talk as the last one, but having read the book I kind of expected that. It had been promoted at the same time as the Hop-tu-naa book author, so I signed up for it just for the sake of it.

Except, my word, that book... )
byslantedlight: (BD AllHallowsEve (empty_mirrors))
StringOfMurder-OscarDeMurielEdinburgh, 1888. A violinist is murdered in his home. The dead virtuoso's maid swears she heard three musicians playing in the night. But with only one body locked in the practice room - and no way in or out - the case makes no sense.
Fearing a panic over another Ripper, Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey's new boss, Detective "Nine-Nails" McGray, actually believes in supernatural nonsense.
McGray's tragic past has driven him to superstition, but even Frey must admit that this case seems beyond reason. And when someone loses all reason, who knows what they will lose next...
.

This has been on my shelf for a while - though not quite long enough to count for my Mount TBR challenge, according to the photo of my shelves - but it seemed to fit the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge nicely, with a murder and supernatural elements... And I enjoyed it! In some ways I shouldn't have... )

SelectedGhostStories-MRJamesI also started my Peril of the Short Story challenge this morning, with two wee stories written by Mr M.R. James. The first was A School Story, about... well, I won't tell you what it's about, cos that's kind of a spoiler. *g* But it starts off with two men chatting about the ghost stories that schoolboys tell - and of course one of them has come across something himself... *g* Actually, what I thought was the spookiest bit has nothing to do with the story, it's the kind of throw-away that is done very well in this tale - one of the men is thinking of the different stories he'd heard - "Also there was the lady who, on locking her bedroom door in a strange house, heard a thin voice among the bed-curtains say, 'Now we're shut in for the night.'" - eeeh!

The second story was The Rose Garden, which is rather Nightmare on Elm Street in a way, because how often do we really know why that part of the house we've just moved into, for all its inconvenience, actually shouldn't be cleared away/altered/disturbed at all...? *g* Hmmn - it's hard, with short stories, to avoid spoilers, isn't it! I shall read more in this collection, though... *g*

2014RIP-PerilTheFirstBanner
Mystery - The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel
Suspense -
Dark Tides by Chris Ewan
Thriller
Gothic -
Raven's Head by Karen Maitland
Gothic - The Madness by Alison Rattle
Horror
Dark Fantasy
And actually that means I've successfully completed this Peril the First challenge (to read four books) even before it got to October! I shall keep going though... *g*


A School Story by M.R. James
The Rose Garden by M.R. James
byslantedlight: (Bookshelf colour (grey853).)
MountTBRchallengebannerI'm catching up on all sorts of things today - or at least that's the plan. Trouble is, one thing leads to another - I went to check whether my current R.I.P. challenge book was one I could use in my Mount To-Be-Read challenge, and couldn't find either thing. Which meant I was slightly confused, cos I thought I'd posted about this when I started it, but maybe I just did it via Goodreads or something. Anyway, for the sake of knowing where I'm up to (cos I'm further than I thought, though not much, cos I keep buying books)... I'm supposed to be reading 24 books from this challenge for 2016 - ack, I'm only up to...

1. Truckers by Terry Pratchett
2. The Humans by Matthew Haig
3. Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault
4. Savage Magic by by Lloyd Shepherd
5. The Raven's Head by Karen Maitland
6. Valentine Grey by Sandi Toksvig
7. Ways To Live Forever by Sally Nichols
2016 MountTBR-01-10-2016-30percent
Of course the real problem is that my books-to-read have actually expanded this year to take up another shelf, not one less... *headdesk*
byslantedlight: (Bookshelf colour (grey853).)
Madness-AlisonRattleSomersetshire, 1868. Marnie leads a lonely existence in a seaside village famed for its 'sea-cures'. Visitors flock from London every summer, but the ladies in their fancy clothes are like foreign creatures to Marnie. When she meets Noah she can see a future for herself for the first time. A future where she is no longer an outcast; a future of love and happiness. But Noah doesn't share Marnie's vision. He thinks they're simply having fun. Marnie has to make him understand that they are meant to be together; she has to make him see the truth... no matter what it takes.
A completely engrossing story of love gone wrong...


I actually thought this might fit the Readers. Imbibing. Peril reading challenge, oddly enough, and it sort of does in a way, but I don't think I can actually crowbar it into any of the categories (Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Gothic, Horror and Dark Fantasy). It's almost Gothic again ("combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance") but the horror element is probably a bit too subtle really, though I find it pretty horrific. The only creeping around in the dark is the exciting kind involved with a touch of romance, although there's certainly death. Hmmn! (ETA - actually I decided it would fit, in the end! Horror is perhaps what we find horror-ful?)

The Madness (spoilers abound, if you're likely to read it) )
byslantedlight: (Bookshelf colour (grey853).)
WillandTom-MatthewPamplin Two artists. Two friends. One week to make their mark. When rising artist Will Turner arrives at Harewood House in the summer of 1797, his intention is to sketch the house and grounds, receive his commission and return to London. But he is shocked by the presence of another painter, childhood friend and now rival, Tom Girton. While Tom is welcomed into the aristocratic inner circle, Will finds few allies. As it becomes harder to ignore the whispers of scandal, Will witnesses something that will threaten both his friendship and his commission.
I must admit that I bought this largely on the strength of its cover, which I thought was beautifully done, but I also thought the story sounded interesting, and I didn't know much about either Turner or Girton, so even though this is a novel and a story made up purely to fit gaps in lives of the two artists (hey - it's fanfiction! In fact it's RPS! Picture me frowning at the divide between it being okay for stories to be made up about real people, whose reputations really might be damaged by them (author-depending, obviously) and stories being made up about other people's stories, which is apparently mostly about making money (even when it makes no money for fanfic writers. It's the latter that's considered wrong...) But all of that said...

I enjoyed this! It was interesting to peer into the possible-worlds of the artists, and their possible-personalities and very different outlooks on the world at the time. Plampin is a decent author (I read his The Street Philopsopher last year - I think I liked this better, too), and he portrayed Turner as an awkward man for people to get along with, but showed us a lot of the possible reasons for that, and didn't make him unsympathetic at all (compared to the characters in The Raven's Head, for instance, where the author showed us the reasons they behaved poorly, but didn't seem to give them enough redeeming features for me to really like them).

It also made me go and look up Turner and Girton when I'd done. *g* Apart from the reasons above, I'm always torn when people write fiction about real people, because it's potentially distorting history, especially when it's via big-media (and I particularly hate it when Hollywood does it, because it often seems to be purposefully distorted - almost jingo-istic propaganda, in some ways), but on the other hand, if I enjoy a story and it prompts me to find out more (and presumably will do the same for other people) then that balances the scale a bit I guess, since history is always going to be distorted by people's re-tellings anyway... I dunno... but I did enjoy the story! And here's Girtin and Turner. *g*

Thomas_Girtin_by_John_Opie Thomas_Girtin-KirkstallAbbey
(Portrait of Girtin by John Opie, in fact).

JMW_Turner-FishermenatSea Turner_selfportrait
Turner's is a self-portrait. All four pics courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Also, 1797 looks like a fascinating year - starting on 3rd January, when three of the stones at Stonehenge apparently fell down due to frost! (Wiki, again).
byslantedlight: (Bookshelf colour (grey853).)
PetticoatMen-BarbaraEwingThe Victorian gossipmongers called them The Petticoat Men. But to young Mattie Stacey, they are Freddie and Ernest, her gentlemen lodgers. She doesn't care that they dress up in sparkling gowns to attend society balls as 'Fanny" and "Stella'. She only cares that they are kind to her, make her laugh, and pay their rent on time. Then one fateful night Fanny and Stella are arrested, and Mattie - outrages but staunch - is dragged into a shocking court trial, hailed in newspapers all over England as 'The Scandal of the Century'.

I absolutely loved this book, and can't recommend it highly enough! I thought I wasn't going to at first, and even put it down and left it for a few days, because it starts with some odd narrators, and almost seemed a bit author-knowing at first - but actually it had to be, at first, because it's a novel based on a true story, and we all know that. In fact it settled quickly into being a story about all the different people that the lives - and arrests - of Fanny and Stella touched, seen from all sorts of perspectives, mostly those of Mattie and her mother Isabella, but sometimes even Lady Susan Vane Tempest, the Prince of Wales, and Mrs Gladstone.

I like stories that are about people, rather than just what happened, and show us the world through their eyes. That's exactly what this is - we're not just shown the actors, the people involved, rushing through their apparent parts, Ewing very cleverly takes us deeper into their thoughts, not just about themselves, but about the world that's going on around them and the ways that other people, and sometimes themselves (and we're often the hardest people to see, aren't we?), live in that world.

Definitely, definitely go and read this one. *g* And I shall go and see what else this Ewing person has written. *vbg*
byslantedlight: (Doyle Camera)
Managed to leave the house just briefly today...
2016-08-11 01SomersetView

2016-08-11 02CloudFront 2016-08-11 03Sunflower
Sunflower is growing!

2016-08-11 04BagOBooks
Happiness is - a bag full of new books... even if Mount TBR is rather receding into the distance...

Despite all those grey clouds, when I nipped out to check around half-eleven, I saw five Perseids - and one was a long and golden, and another was stumpy and bright and trailed by puffts of smoke! Felt like that one almost came down in Somerset!
byslantedlight: (Doyle Camera)
2016-08-10 01MushroomCloud 2016-08-10 02MushroomCloud

I didn't notice at the time, but on Tuesday we were exactly 2/3 of the way through the year - today we're more than two thirds of the way through the year!

Also, a grump. I picked up The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins in Waterstones a few days ago, started it yesterday, and was thoroughly enjoying it. It read a bit like a sequel to something, but there was no indication on the book that it was, so I figured that was just the way the author was doing it, and carried on. And then I went to add it to Goodreads this morning, and Thomas Hawkins 2 it says. Gaaaaargh! And it is indeed a sequel to The Devil in the Marshalsea, which I've picked up and thought about a few times, but not bought. So I clearly am missing out on alot of backstory, and it does matter cos that was how it felt before I knew it was a sequel, and what is it with this fashion for not indicating in a book that it's a sequel to something? It's not the first time this has happened to me either - Between the Lines/Off the Page turned out to be sequels, after I'd bought the second and started reading it. No indication on the book itself, and only cos I looked it up online when I felt I was missing something. Presumably publishers are trying to drag readers in the hard way, but if this carries on it's going to have the opposite effect... and I shall name and shame!

This is Me

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A ship is safe in the harbour - but that's not what ships are for.

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. (Sarah Williams)

Could've.
Should've.
Would've.
Didn't. Didn't. Didn't.

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