Sunday Post – 15th March, 2020 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost

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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.

It’s been an up and down week. I’m still not fully recovered, so didn’t feel up to any fitness regime. We treated ourselves to a smart TV, so have been tucking into Picard, The Crossing, The Expanse and Outlander – all of which I’m loving. It seems a very good time to binge-watch escapist adventures, given how terrifyingly interesting Real Life is becoming. My thoughts go out to everyone, hoping you are all remaining safe and well…

On Wednesday, Himself and I went out for lunch at Haskins, enjoying the swathes of daffodils growing on the roadside and on Friday I drove to Brighton to spend the day with my daughter. It was a lovely sunny day and I thoroughly enjoyed watching my granddaughter having her swimming lesson – what a great age to become water confident. Only just walking, she is learning to enjoy putting her head under the water, splash about in the pool and hold onto the side. This morning, I met up with my sister and we had breakfast together at our favourite riverside café, putting the world to rights – which took some doing. I am making the most of getting out and about while I can and spending time with the people I love.

Last week I read:
AUDIOBOOK Longbourn by Jo Baker
In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.
I’m a bit torn by this one. While the worldbuilding was brilliantly done and I very much appreciated seeing the Bennet family through the lens of the servants, the pacing was too slow in places – and that ending…! Review to follow.



On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported near-fatal accident in 1999 — and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it — fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
This was a reread, given I’ve started writing my own How-To book on Characterisation. It was just as enjoyably chatty and informative as I recalled, though some of the advice on how to get your work noticed is outdated.



Minimum Wage Magic – Book 1 of the DFZ series by Rachel Aaron
My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one—there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves—but when you’re deep in debt in a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there.
This is a spinoff from the amazing Heartstriker series – though you don’t need to read one to appreciate the other. Seeing as I’m loving the quirky world Aaron has forged, I was happy to dive into this offering. Review to follow.



By the Pricking of Her Thumb – Book 2 of the Real-Town Murders series by Adam Roberts
Private Investigator Alma is caught up in another impossible murder. One of the world’s four richest people may be dead – but nobody is sure which one. Hired to discover the truth behind the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the ultra-rich, Alma must juggle treating her terminally ill lover with a case which may not have a victim.
Another gnarly case for the amazing Alma, set in a dystopian world. I loved the character and the mystery – but Roberts does drift away from the main plot to eulogise about Stanley Kubrick’s films and discuss theories on the role of money in society…

 




The Case of the Missing Servant – Book 1 of the Vish Puri series by Tarquin Hall
The Case of the Missing Servant shows Puri (“Chubby” to his friends) and his wonderfully nicknamed employees (among them, Handbrake, Flush, and Handcream) hired for two investigations. The first is into the background of a man surprisingly willing to wed a woman her father considers unmarriageable, and the second is into the disappearance six months earlier of a servant to a prominent Punjabi lawyer, a young woman known only as Mary.
This book was part of my Valentine’s pressie from Himself – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Hall’s depiction of contemporary India is vivid, unflinching, yet without being overly bleak or judgemental. I fell in love with Chubby when I read The Case of the Reincarnated Client and this book has cemented my affection for him.


My posts last week:

Friday Faceoff featuring WWW: Wake Book 1 of the WWW series by Robert Sawyer

February 2020 Roundup – Reading, Writing and Blogging…

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Winterbourn Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Murder Your Darlings – Book 3 of the Francis Meadowes series by Mark McCrum

Sunday Post – 7th March 2020

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

How To Overcome Self Doubt as a Writer https://lorraineambers.com/2020/01/16/how-to-overcome-self-doubt-as-a-writer/ Having taught Creative Writing for 10 years, and written for more years than I care to recall – I’m aware just how crippling self doubt can be…

Women Building Art! https://platformnumber4.com/2020/03/07/women-building-art/ A lovely good news story about women achieving the highest accolade in a largely male-dominated industry…

Paul Brady, Arty McGlynn, Matt Molloy: Crazy Dreams (Hail St Patrick 2) https://theimmortaljukebox.com/2020/03/11/paul-brady-arty-mcglynn-matt-molloy-crazy-dreams-hail-st-patrick-2/ A fabulous article on Irish music from the awesome Thom Hickey

Thursday Doors – Cavan County Museum 5 https://jeanreinhardt.wordpress.com/2020/03/09/thursday-doors-cavan-county-museum-5/ Jean takes us back into the past…

Coronavirus and Parenting: What You Need to Know https://www.npr.org/2020/03/13/814615866/coronavirus-and-parenting-what-you-need-to-know-now?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social Given the nature of this unfolding emergency, arming our children with the knowledge to help them without overwhelming or terrifying them is a challenge. I thought this article was very helpful…

Thank you for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting on my blog – I hope you have a peaceful, healthy week. Take care.

51 responses »

  1. I loved On Writing! It was a huge hit with me and made me want to look for more books on writing.

    Stay safe! It is a scary world out there, mostly due to not knowing how bad it could get. This is definitely a good time to read or watch escapist adventures.

    • Yes – I thoroughly enjoyed On Writing, too. Thank you, Athira – I am mindful of the advice from the government and we are following the guidelines. I am so glad to be a reader…

  2. I LOVE to binge watch the Outlander. Did not care for Stephen King’s On Writing except for his account of his accident and recovery. The advice he gives about writing is better given by Zinsser in any edition (There are 31 of them) of his On Writing Well. His book is my writing Bible. Now that my class had gone on line, I am requesting students buy his book to do their assignments. Previously, I was reading his book and presenting lectures based on it. I bet our university, UHCL, is closed until August. I would not be surprised if all summer classes were only offered on line. Booooo on Covid!
    I miss my students.

    • Oh my goodness! So sorry that your uni is closed for the duration. So far, the UK have decided not to close the schools and colleges for which I’m very grateful. Thank you for the recommendation regarding Zinsser – I’ll check out the book On Writing Well. As for Outlander – I’ve watched the first 3 episodes and loved them, so I have plenty ahead of them:)).

  3. I bought all the Heartstriker books and Minimum Wage Magic on audio but haven’t gotten to them yet Maybe the next 3 weeks at home. It’s spring break and then my daughter’s school is going to 2 weeks online. I am happy to stay at home and will go out as little as possible. I think things will get much worse before they get better so staying home is good.

    I hope your week is healthy and safe! Happy reading!

    • I’m reading the 3rd Heartstriker book and loving it. I hope you thoroughly enjoy it, too. I think you’re right about things getting worse instead of better, so I hope you have a peaceful, healthy week, Anne.

  4. Getting out and about while you can and spending time with the people you love sounds like good idea, and looks like you’ve done some great reading – I really enjoyed On Writing by Stephen King and I would like to read Longbourn by Jo Baker. Stay safe and keep reading! 🙂

    • Yes – I would recommend Longbourn, though I did have some issues with the ending. Thank you for your kind good wishes – I love the marvellous book blogging community and I intend to get out for as long as is possible, without being irresponsible or foolish. Because once we are in isolation, I think it will be for a long time… Take care, Jessica:)

  5. The time with your family sounds wonderful! We are being encouraged to stay home and “flatten the curve”. It’s grey and rainy and I still haven’t adjusted to the time change so I’m not arguing! Longbourn is on my TBR. I’ve heard wonderful things about it. Have a great week!

    • We are being told to be sensible and wash our hands more than usual. I am hoping to get out and about during the next couple of weeks, as I reckon once they batten down the hatches, it could be for several months. Longbourn was enjoyable – but I did have some issues with it. I look forward to hearing how you get on with it. Have a safe week, Katherine:).

  6. It is such a tense time, and I agree- we need the escapism now more than ever! Glad you were able to enjoy some nice time outdoors. It’s so important, I think, to keep that connection to nature, and the ones we love.

    Anyway stay safe and have a good week!

    • Thank you, Greg – yes… having some time outside is important, I think. And I am hoping to get together with those I care about in the next couple of weeks – because after that, I think we will not have a chance to get together for a long time…

    • Yes – books, TV and films are the perfect escape. I’m heartened to hear that Outlander continues to be a marvellous as the beginning – which is where I am… Thank you for your kind good wishes, Yvonne – I’m hoping to fully recover during this week:)).

    • Yes – Pricking of Her Thumb is a really intriguing read. And yes… we need to keep putting one foot in front of another and cope with these challenges! Have the very best week that you can:))

  7. I agree about the need for escape from reality right now. I found myself on Disney + today watching old movies from my childhood for that same reason. I’m glad you were able to spend some time outside and with your loved ones this week. I think that’s so important right now considering we have no idea what the future holds.

    • Yes – I’m now so grateful we got together, given that the Mothering Sunday get-together is going to be cancelled. We can’t justify the risk:((. Hoping you have a peaceful, healthy week, Suzanne.

  8. Oddly enough I liked Outlander when I bumped in to it but apparently not enough to keep watching it past the first season. Maybe I should give it another look-see.

    Longbourn sounds interesting especially as the Bennets are considered lower class/marrying up in Pride and Prejudice…I’m always interested in the stories of the layers beneath the layers and of those in the shadows (e.g. on reading Mansfield Park when the father goes off to check on the estate in Antigua, where I live, I can’t help thinking about the people’s who’s enslavement and indentureship props up the relative affluence of the characters centered in the story. I will ever be curious about what ‘problems’ Sir Thomas goes off to deal with – rumblings of uprisings among the enslaved perhaps? It’s one of the reasons I quite liked Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys as it tells the story of the woman in the attic in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (and what drove her to ‘madness’).

    King’s On Writing is a must-read for writers in my view – I think it balances well between the worlds of craft and memoir, and that he epitomizes what he instructs.

    *adds Minimum Wage Magic to the TBR*

    • Thank you, Joanne:)). Yes – Longbourn is definitely worth reading and I’m conscious that I’m a bit more critical than many others. But I did have a problem with the pacing and I wasn’t happy with the ending, either… And like you – I thoroughly enjoyed Wide Sargasso Sea.

      And I thoroughly recommend Minimum Wage Magic:)). I hope you have a great reading week – thank goodness for books!

    • Yes – I’m loving Picard, too. Although I’m also enjoying The Crossing and The Expanse… I hope that you, too, have a lovely reading week and a healthy, peaceful time.

  9. I’m glad you are still able to see family and eat out together. We are being encouraged to stay home, and this weekend everything was canceled. Everyone is on edge, and people are not sure what is going to happen next. I’m trying to focus on staying calm and peaceful.

    • Yes… I think there are grim times ahead, so it seems to make sense to make opportunities to be with those we love while we can. I know that we, too, will be told to stay isolated sometime soon – but the experts tell us that there is a curve to the progression of this illness here in the UK, and it’s too soon to start expecting people to stay holed up, as it could stretch on for a long time. So I’m making the most of it… Have a peaceful week, Deb.x

  10. I’m glad you were able to enjoy some time with your family. It’s definitely challenging at times like this. Almost everything besides grocery stores is closed. It’s just so weird outside. I can’t wait to be able to go to the pool or the zoo again with our little girl.
    Stay save and happy reading.

    • The same to you, Maureen! It’s not quite as bad here, though we have now been advised not to get together unless it’s absolutely necessary – so our Mothering Sunday meal has been cancelled… I hope you, too, are keeping safe and happy!

  11. Binging on escapist series is a good antidote for these troubled times – and to combat the boredom of lockdown. It would be better if some platforms, like Netflix, stopped proposing movies about virus outbreaks: did no one tell them it’s supreme bad taste? (((SIGH)))
    Stay safe! 🙂

    • Someone was busy playing PANDEMIC to pass the time during lockdown:))). Perhaps some folks prefer to watch/read such things? Not me though!!! And I hope that you, too, are keeping healthy, Maddalena.

    • Yes, it’s winter here, too. The pool she goes to is indoors and is heated to sauna temperatures:). Though it’s all been cancelled until further notice, so I’m really glad I got to see her perform her last class for a while. Here’s hoping we can resume taking the babies to the pool again before too long… Have a good week, AJ.

  12. Glad you had such a wonderful week. I do hope that your husband and you are well and that you won´t be affected. I know it is hard but take my advice and stay away from your friends, grandchildren, kids and others. I am on the phone with my family almost every day because we can´t visit each other. For their own safety. It is a nightmare yes but the best you can do despite washing your hands more often now. All our elderly here are asked to stay at home and avoid any contact with their loved ones and others. Stay safe and well.

    • Hi Vi, Yes – I take your point. We’d wanted to get together for one last family gathering this coming weekend, but events have overtaken us and we have decided to cancel it. The risk is too great to the oldest family members and we cannot justify it. My husband is still working – he’s a train driver, but I work from home anyway, so I am not required to do anything too different. In the meantime, I hope you are able to keep well and have a peaceful, healthy week:). Thank you for your kind concern.

    • Yes – that’s my instinct, too. I’ve only so much courage and refuse to spend my time alone frazzling and worrying over something I’ve no control over, so I won’t think about it. Far more preferable to worry about Claire Randall and Jean Luc Picard…

  13. I recall when my own kids learned to swim very early too as I am a swimmer. So cute! Enjoy that time as they grow up so fast!

  14. Despite the coronapocalypse you sound like you had a lovely week! We could do with some more lovely weeks but with everything getting slowly closing around us now I fear swimming, lunch out with family etc will become incredibly scarce for a while. 😦

    I hope you enjoy Picard! I’m not a Trekkie but I’ve been watching it with my husband and really enjoying it!

    • I know… I’m so glad that I took the chance last weekend to get out and about while it was still okay to do so – I shan’t be doing it again for a while. Although living by the sea, I am hoping we can get out for a walk along the beach this coming weekend. And as for Picard – thank goodness! I’m so grateful we have content of that quality to watch:))

  15. Sounds like you’ve found some fine television in which to escape! A pity about that Pricking of the Thumbs book–I do love a good mystery, but not when it’s going to come with all sorts of sermonizing. I’ll take my sermons in church…when the churches open, anyway…sigh…

    • He doesn’t sermonise – I’m ALLERGIC to that kind of fiction, so it would have gone flying across the room if he pulled that kind of stunt – but he’s one of those uber clever people who every so often goes off on a riff of theorising about a concept/idea. And there are times when he lets those ideas run instead of paying attention to the narrative.

      • Although in fairness to him, he’s too good a writer to get totally derailed – I wouldn’t be a fan if he pulled stunts like that, for starters. But there are times when the narrative meanders, somewhat…

      • Yes… there are those writers who are allll about the story and those who are driven by the ideas behind the story…

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