Sunday Post – 25th February, 2018

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This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.

I’ve been back in the thick of it as term time has resumed at Northbrook. We had a department meeting this week, which was the most exciting in years with a new head who is very focused on expanding the role of Adult Learning in the college and in the community. I am now thinking about next year’s courses.

On Wednesday evening we had a great meeting with our Writers’ Group and are discussing the possibility of going on a week-long writers’ retreat in Devon at the start of October. During Thursday, my staunch writing buddy Mhairi came over and we discussed our projects, when she stopped me taking Miranda’s Tempest off on a new shiny direction that was luring me away from my former narrative arc. That’s what writing friends are for, people!

On Friday, Himself and I collected Frances from school so we were able to catch an early train to London on Saturday, as Grimbold Publishing were part of a featured event laid on by Forbidden Planet. I’ve never been to this store before – and found I’d arrived in heaven. In addition to being able to catch up with wonderful folks like Kate Coe and Jo Hall – there were all these books… shelves and shelves and shelves allll devoted to science fiction and fantasy! Frances was equally thrilled at the range of manga comics, so after a lovely afternoon chatting about books, browsing among books and buying books, we came home again… Though the trip home on the train was a tad quiet as we’d all buried our noses into our favourite reading matter.

Writing-wise, it hasn’t been a great week, but let’s hope I can do better in due course. Though it has been a very good reading week, given that I had some time after my meeting on Tuesday and a train journey to and from London to fill…

This week I have read:

The Hyperspace Trap by Christopher G. Nuttall
A year after the Commonwealth won the war with the Theocracy, the interstellar cruise liner Supreme is on its maiden voyage, carrying a host of aristocrats thrilled to be sharing in a wondrous adventure among the stars. The passengers include the owner and his daughters, Angela and Nancy. Growing up with all the luxuries in the world, neither sister has ever known true struggle, but that all changes when Supreme comes under attack…
This is a really enjoyable adventure set on a passenger liner – think Titanic in space. I loved the slow build so we get to know the characters and care about them, before it all hits the fan. There are plenty of twists, though I did see a couple of them coming. All in all, an excellent read for fans of quality space opera.

 

Into the Fire – Book 2 of Vatta’s Peace by Elizabeth Moon
When Admiral Kylara Vatta and a ship full of strangers were marooned on an inhospitable arctic island, they uncovered secrets that someone on Ky’s planet was ready to kill to keep hidden. Now, the existence of the mysterious arctic base has been revealed, but the organisation behind it still lurks in the shadows, doing all it can to silence her.
I loved Cold Welcome, the first book in this series, so I was delighted when I realised this offering was now available. It picks up immediately after the first book, when everyone has returned home and should be relaxing with their loved ones after such a terrible ordeal – only that isn’t happening. Once more Moon is cranking up the tension in this, well told futuristic thriller.

 

The Magic Chair Murder: a 1920s English Mystery – Book 1 of the Black and Dods series by Diane Janes
1929.
The night before she’s due to make a speech to the Robert Barnaby Society on the subject of the famous writer’s ‘magic chair’, committee member Linda Dexter disappears. When her body is discovered two days later, fellow members Frances Black and Tom Dod determine to find out the truth about her death.
This cosy murder is consciously set in the 1920’s tradition with a slow buildup and plenty of prospective suspects. I thoroughly enjoyed the historical details of Fran Black’s life, which takes a hard look at the lot of a woman living on her own at a time when they had only just got the vote. This one held me right to the end and I am definitely going to be looking out for more books, in this entertaining series.

 

The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon: Using Speech Recognition Software to Dictate Your Book and Supercharge Your Writing Workflow by Scott Baker
As writers, we all know what an incredible tool dictation software can be. It enables us to write faster and avoid the dangers of RSI and a sedentary lifestyle. But many of us give up on dictating when we find we can’t get the accuracy we need to be truly productive.

This book changes all of that. With almost two decades of using Dragon software under his belt and a wealth of insider knowledge from within the dictation industry, Scott Baker will reveal how to supercharge your writing and achieve sky-high recognition accuracy from the moment you start using the software.
This book is certainly well written and very clear. While there are a number of excellent tips which should help me improve my mastery of Dragon, I’m not sure that I will ever get to a stage where my accuracy will rival my typing – after all I was a fully-trained touch-typist who earned a crust as secretary in a former life. But as my hands and wrists are getting increasingly unhappy at cranking out 400,000+ words a year (NOT all novels or stories, I hasten to add) I need to do something before it turns into a full-blown repetitive strain injury.

 

Into the Thinnest of Air – Book 5 of the Ishmael Jones Mystery series by Simon R. Green
Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny are attending the re-opening of Tyrone’s Castle, an ancient Cornish inn originally built by smugglers. Over dinner that night, the guests entertain one another with ghost stories inspired by local legends and superstitions. But it would appear that the curse of Tyrone’s Castle has struck for real when one of their number disappears into thin air. And then another . . .
This is another entertaining adventure in this paranormal murder mystery series. There is certainly plenty of tension as guests disappear one by one in the creepy castle that is cut off from the outside world. I was hooked into wanting to know what happens next and will be writing a review in due course.

 

Escaping Firgo by Jason Whittle
When a bank worker takes a wrong turn in life and on the road, he finds himself trapped in a remote village hiding from the police. Before he can find his freedom, he has to find himself, and it’s not just about escaping, it’s about settling up. Because everybody settles up in the end.
This is a delightfully quirky read – and at only 52 pages, moves along at a decent clip. I thoroughly enjoyed following our protagonist’s adventures, as he endeavours to escape from Firgo and will be reviewing this one.

 

 

My posts last week:

Sunday Post – 18th February 2018

Review of Defender – Book 2 of the Hive Mind series by Janet Edwards

Teaser Tuesday featuring Into the Fire – Book 2 of the Vatta’s Peace series by Elizabeth Moon

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring The Magic Chair Murder: a 1920s English Mystery – A Black and Dod Mystery:1 by Diane James

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Fire and Bone – Book 1of the Otherborn series by Rachel A. Marks

Friday Face-off – Halfway up the stairs isn’t up and isn’t down… featuring Murder Must Advertise – Book 10 of the Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy L. Sayers

Review of Killbox – Book 4 of the Sirantha Jax series by Anne Aguirre

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:

It Comes Down to Reading https://jenniefitzkee.com/2018/02/22/it-comes-down-to-reading/ Just in case anyone has gone away thinking that learning an appreciation for books and reading is now an outdated irrelevancy superseded by newer technology…

Let’s Discuss – Predictability in Fiction and Film https://www.spajonas.com/2018/02/23/lets-discuss-predictability-fiction-film/ Accomplished indie author S.J. Pajonas raises this topic and has some interesting things to say regarding this topic. Do you like knowing what is coming up?

Blackwing: LITFIC edition https://edmcdonaldwriting.com/2018/02/19/blackwing-litfic-edition/ Genre author Ed McDonald pokes gentle fun at some of the snobbery that still pervades certain corners of the writing world…

Bar jokes for English Majors https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/2018/02/20/bar-jokes-for-english-majors/ I loved these – though there were one or two that had me blinking and wondering what the joke was…

Do Not https://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/do-not/ I love this poem by talented writer Viv Tuffnell – it contains a strong message for anyone who is feeling pressured and manipulated.

Have a great week and thank you very much for taking the time and trouble to visit, like and comment on my site.

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40 responses »

  1. Yeah to Mhairi for keeping you on track, Sarah. LOL And the book store sounds amazing! Good thing you don’t have to pay extra to lug all of those new books home on the train. LOL

    • Mhairi is officially a diamond, Laura:)). And as for Forbidden Planet – I’ve seen their stalls around the various cons I’ve attended – but it never occurred to me to make the effort to visit their shop. We will definitely be making another foray there – I have NEVER seen such a choice under one roof!

  2. The Writer’s Group meeting sounds wonderful, and so does that visit to book “heaven.” Train rides are the best when you want to read.

    The Magic Chair Murder looks delightful. Enjoy your week, and thanks for visiting my blog.

    • I highly recommend The Magic Chair Murder – it isn’t remotely fantasy-based, despite the title and I think it is a cracking good whodunit in the old fashioned sense. Have a great week, Laurel:)

  3. You read some great books this week, Sarah! I have the Elizabeth Moon book on hold at the library. I plan to get The Hyperspace Trap. The Severn House books all seem to be very expensive here ($28 for a kindle edition) so I have to wait to see if the library gets them.

    Your trip to the bookstore in London sounds like so much fun. I love to browse through books in a bookstore. And it’s great you have a good writing group and a writing partner who helps you out. I hope your class is going well and that Adult Learning gets more focus. I’ve been wanting to take some adult learning classes here. Those classes can be really good.

    • Yes – our classes here offer great value and now we are going to be able to offer a wider range. I’m so excited about it:))

      Thank you – Jan, yes… I have had a wonderful reading week:). The Hyperspace Trap was huge fun and I’m looking forward to hear what you think of Into the Fire – I loved it, though there are others who weren’t so keen. Yikes! That’s a LOT of money for a Kindle edition… I hope you can get hold of them via the library. Have a great week, Jan:)

  4. Forbidden Planet (even that name- love it) sounds so much like my kind of place, I know if I was visiting I would probably spend all day in there and nothing else of note would be seen! One of these days… 🙂 And yay for writing friends saving the day!

    The Hyperspace Trap sounds awesome and like something I would enjoy. I’ll be off to take a closer look next… 🙂

    • Yes – I think you’d enjoy this one – have you read any of his other books, Greg? And indeed, Forbidden Planet is WONDERFUL. We have promised ourselves more visits there…

  5. I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip to that bookstore. Sounds like a definite win! You’re writing partner sounds fabulous. I wish I could find someone who would do the same for me. It might ignite a fire under me to keep on writing. I hope you have a great week.

    • Yes, I’m very blessed – I have some great writing friends to support and help me to keep on keeping on. Are there any writing groups in your area you can join? It’s a lonely old business, otherwise.

  6. You have had the perfect week, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves a perfect week more. I am just trying to carve out time when it is not storming or raining steadily (We’ve had a week of it.) to go to the nearest Barnes and Noble. When I am an old, old woman and rich (how I do not know…) I will open a bookstore in Alvin. We do not have a bookstore, used or otherwise. We need one, with a little tearoom attached…dream on, Rae.

  7. Oh I LOVE the sounds of that bookstore! If and when I ever visit the UK and I’m in London, I’ll have to swing by there… though I might have to keep my wallet closed! *lol*

    It still sounds like you had a good week. Maybe it wasn’t so productive on the writing front, but between the bookstore visit, making plans with your writing group (the writing retreat idea sounds wonderful!), and other things, it still seemed positive and progressing in the right direction.

    I’m doing better compared to the last time we “chatted,” btw. Stress always has a way of warping one’s perspective on things. But I had a great weekend of writing, both with the new novel and poetry (I sent out two separate poetry submissions, so fingers crossed!), and another open mic night last Thursday.

    • If you ever do get to London, then it would be very worthwhile to add it to your itinerary. And as for your wallet – you’d need to leave it in your hotel:)). Yes – I had a really good week, apart from the actual writing.

      I’m very glad that you are feeling better, Sara. You’re right – being stressed really throws everything out. Fingers crossed on the poetry submissions and I hope you’re enjoying the Open Mic evenings – I haven’t been to one for a while, but I thoroughly enjoyed them when we had a series locally and got a great deal from them.

    • We have a laugh and a chat in our writing group – and are there to help each other out when stuff happens. And having a group where you have a laugh and lots of fun sounds really positive, AJ. I hope you, too, have a great week:).

  8. Thanks for linking to my discussion post! And that book store sounds heavenly. It’s so hard to find a good sci-fi collection in brick & mortar stores that I often just resort to online shopping for that genre. And I see you read Scott Baker’s Dragon book! I don’t know if you’re on FB but I’m the admin of the quite-large Dragon Riders – Authors Dictating FB group that’s devoted just to Dragon. I love dictating and it really does help with RSI. Come by the group if you aren’t already a member!

    • Oh, that sounds GREAT, SJ – thank you so much! I’ve already bought myself a decent microphone as per Baker’s instructions and I cannot believe the improvement in the accuracy! I’ll swing by the group and join – thank you for the invitation:)

  9. Forbidden Planet sounds like a fantastic store. I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I travel to London. I’m glad to hear that you had a great reading week. Hopefully this week will be a better writing one for you.

  10. It sounds like you’ve had a wonderful week back then, even if you didn’t get much writing done. (It’s fine – we all need a break sometimes, right?)
    I hope that my comment will remind you of all the good moments from back then as I continue my journey toward the present time. 🙂

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