Sunday Post – 26th April, 2020 #Brainfluffbookblog #SundayPost


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

Another lockdown week. The weather continues to be freakishly fabulous, so I’m enjoying many tea and coffee breaks in the garden. I’ve posted the choisya blossom, which is fabulous and the amber bedding plant last year, that I left in the garden and has turned into a perennial. I love it when that happens. And the echiums are now starting to bloom!

Non-gardening news: I am missing family horribly, but my daughter and I have had a couple of marathon phone calls, which meant on Friday night I didn’t get to bed until the early hours. I’m so filled with admiration at how she has organised the home-schooling routine for her 15-year-old and 10-year-old, so that it still makes time for little Eliza, who is also struggling with lockdown. Rebecca was telling me how she was calling out to another toddler in a shopping trolley, who was shouting back at her, as she went around the supermarket and they were both stretching towards each other, desperate to make contact. It must be so hard on that age-group who developmentally need socialisation, when you can’t even explain to them what is going on.

I had the pleasure of judging a poetry competition organised to coincide with the Littlehampton V.E. celebrations. Though the celebrations were cancelled, the competition went ahead and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the entries, all submitted online. I’ve been working on another writing project, which hopefully I will be talking about in more detail in the next few weeks.

Last week I read:

Q by Christina Dalcher
Every child’s potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it’s off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.

Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena’s perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.
It’s a long time since I’ve read a protagonist I really hated as much as I loathed Elena. Review to follow.

The Hedgeway – short story by Vivienne Tuffnell
Leading from the overgrown grass and thicket of brambles were the distinct signs of feet passing: small, bare human feet.
A child had walked here, breaking the crisp coating of hoar frost, and had stood only yards from the kitchen window.
Cathy thought: They’re only footprints, so why do I suddenly feel so scared?
Daniel’s grandmother’s house seems only a few years from becoming a ruin but the roof is still sound and unlike his rented accommodation, the whole place is his. It seems the perfect time to ask girlfriend Cathy to move in with him and together they plan to renovate the house. But the old house has secrets that it wants to share with them whether they want to know or not.
(This is a longer short story of around 17,000 words)
After getting through Q I was yearning for a read that I knew would be excellently written and provide a complete contrast, so I turned to an author who I knew would deliver the goods.

A Little Bit Witchy – Book 1 of the Riddler’s Edge series by A.A. Albright
Aisling Smith is about to try out for a new job – a job writing for a paper she’s never heard of. But seeing as she’s currently writing classified ads and obituaries, it would be foolish not to give it a shot. Riddler’s Edge might be a small town, but it’s definitely not boring. The train hasn’t even pulled into the station, and already a woman has been murdered.
This is one that has been lurking on my TBR pile for far too long. Enjoyable and nicely escapist, I’m glad to have found a new series to dive back into when I’ve completed more series.

The Dark Side of the Road – Book 1 of the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R. Green
Ishmael Jones is someone who can’t afford to be noticed, someone who lives under the radar, who drives on the dark side of the road. He’s employed to search out secrets, investigate mysteries and shine a light in dark places. Sometimes he kills people. Invited by his employer, the enigmatic Colonel, to join him and his family for Christmas, Ishmael arrives at the grand but isolated Belcourt Manor in the midst of a blizzard to find that the Colonel has mysteriously disappeared. As he questions his fellow guests, Ishmael concludes that at least one of them not least Ishmael himself – is harbouring a dangerous secret, and that beneath the veneer of festive cheer lurk passion, jealousy, resentment and betrayal. As a storm sets in, sealing off the Manor from the rest of the world, Ishmael must unmask a ruthless murderer they strike again.
This is the first book in this thoroughly enjoyable series, so I jumped at the chance to discover more about the mysterious Ishmael Jones and was quickly engrossed in this entertaining paranormal whodunit. Review to follow.

Firewalkers by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Earth is burning. Nothing can survive at the Anchor; not without water and power. But the ultra-rich, waiting for their ride off the dying Earth? They can buy water. And as for power? Well, someone has to repair the solar panels, down in the deserts below. Kids like Mao, and Lupé, and Hotep; kids with brains and guts but no hope. The Firewalkers.
This cli fi adventure drew me in from the start. Once again, Tchaikovsky didn’t disappoint – review to follow.

My posts last week:

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NOVELLA Scythe – Book 1 of the Dimension Drift prequels by Christina Bauer

Friday Face-off featuring The Fell Sword – Book 2 of The Traitor Son series by Miles Cameron

Review of AUDIOBOOK Poirot’s Finest Cases: Eight Full-Cast BBC Radio Dramatisations based on the books by Agatha Christie

Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring The Mother Code by Carol Stivers

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Shorefall – Book 2 of The Founders Trilogy – by Robert Bennett Jackson

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Last Emperox – Book 3 of the Interdependency series by John Scalzi

Sunday Post – 19th April 2020

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

7 Eco-Friendly Actions for Kids during the Pandemic: from EARTHDAY. ORG These practical suggestions look really useful…

Your Own Flying Rainbows Aren’t they adorable?

National Bookmobile Day I loved this article by Loreen in tribute to Mr Riggs. Let’s take a moment to remember that person who understood and honoured our love for books when we were too young to get hold of them ourselves…

Book Recommendations: If You Liked… You Might Also Like… I haven’t encountered this really useful blog post before – so I thought I’d share it.

Caturday funnies – coronapocalypse edition Some much-needed laughter…

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

52 responses »

  1. Yes, I have to agree, we couldn’t have picked a better time for the best weather for our Staycation! LOL Well, got to look on the bright side, eh? Dark Side of the Road looks good – and it is a Christmas book? I am always on the look out for them – for my Christmas Book Group! Yes, we love Christmas any time of the year! lol Stay safe, and take care x

    • Yes, I’m counting my blessings as hard as I can – and I will certainly take the amazing sunshine:). And yes, Sassy, The Dark Side of the Road is a Christmas book – though you wouldn’t want what turns up at the manor to come crawling out of your stocking… Have a good week.x

  2. I cannot even imagine trying to raise little children in this horrific time…and finding ways to make them okay with it. Your garden looks and sounds lovely.

    Reading has been good. I am curious about your books, especially The Dark Side of the Road. I read a book this week with a reference to “the side of the road.” Redhead by the Side of the Road, by Anne Tyler. Loved it!

    Here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

    • Yes – I don’t envy my daughter coping with a 15 yr old, 10 yr old and a rising 2 yr old! Yes – I really enjoyed The Dark Side of the Road – it’s a paranormal thriller and a tad on the gory side:)). I hope you have a great week, Laurel.

    • Thank you, Tammy – though it looks more impressive than it actually is, given that The Hedgeway is a 17,000 word story and Firewalkers is a novella – which is really good, btw:). I hope your week is also peaceful and healthy:)

  3. Sounds like your garden must look lovely this time of the year, those pictures of the flowers sure look petty. here we had some great weather too and I like seeing all the flowers when I take walks outside. I can’t imagine how hard this lockdown must be for kids, even more so for the very young ones who you can’t explain to what’s going on. That’s nice you had some marathon phone calls with your daughter at least, so you can stay in contact. I am glad you had some interesting reads this week, that new Adrian Tchaikovsky sounds like an unique read. Have a great week!

    • There are lots of lovely flowers – but sadly, there are also a lot of not so lovely weeds, too! The gardening elves have been falling down on the job disgracefully…
      It’s been lovely having marathon calls with my daughter – we are so lucky to have the technology to keep in touch, given the length of time since we’ve seen each other… It’s really starting to hurt, isn’t it? I hope you, too, have a wonderful week, Lola.

  4. You really have your reading going! I read The Deathstalker series and mostly enjoyed it. I have been considering the Ishmael Jones series so I am happy to have your thoughts.

    I love the gorgeous weather here. This week should be practically perfect. I planted impatiens in the porch planters and love seeing them, and the marigolds around the tomato plants. I need to organize more flowers here.

    Stay safe and be well!

    Anne – Books of My Heart Here is my Sunday Post   

    • Thank you, Anne, but one of those reads was only a short story and Firewalkers isn’t all that long, either – so my reading looks better than it is:). I love impatiens – and marigolds even more… sadly, the slugs love them, too. We are hoping to order plants online, as I generally go to the local garden centres in just another week when the risk of frosts is really fading. Have a good week and stay safe.

  5. I know everything about marathon calls! And I’ve never face timed or used the camera on Whatsapp before but now it’s become a favorite!

  6. Great post. I really hope children are allowed to play with each other soon. I can’t imagine what effects being told ‘you can’t play with them’ will have on the little ones.

    • Thank you, Emily. I’m hoping she is too little for it to impact upon her too much – at least she has two doting older siblings to play with. But my daughter and the other mother found it very emotional to see the two little girls desperate to get closer to each other – and not being able to do so.

    • Really sorry Emily – I can’t comment because of a technical glitch, but I have visited your blog and loved the article about Jan Morris and Hav, as I loved this book…

      • The credit goes all to the guest writer, Lila (Rush)! I am glad you liked it, it is a great novel.

        So strange, the glitch. I will look into it.

    • Thank you Shelleyrae! Yes, it’s a joy to be able to get out in the garden so much right now – normally it’s too cold and wet for me, as I’m definitely a fine-weather gardener:)).

  7. SJ, I too, have been loving my time in the garden with this current, glorious weather we have been enjoying. I have done a lot sunbathing and reading in my sunny garden 😎 I hope this coming week is a good one for you.

  8. Your photos from your garden are so lovely. Thanks for sharing them. That’s great that you have been able to at least have some nice long conversations with your daughter. My mom and I have been texting a lot but it’s not quite the same as a good marathon call.

    Now I can’t wait to read your review for Q. It’s called Master Class here and I just finished it. I grew to like Elena the further along I got in the book but did not like her at all in the beginning.

    • Thank you, Suzanne – yes, we have texted, but it isn’t the same… Oh, I’m glad you liked Elena, because while I felt a bit sorry for her at the start of the story, the more I learnt about her, the more repelled I became. And that ending!

  9. I’m so glad you’re having lovely weather and I love the garden pics. We’ve let most of the garden stuff go because apparently everyone is flooding the garden stores and they’re a complete madhouse. I’m glad you’re able to connect with your daughter and it sounds like she’s doing quite well with managing all that. 1 is tough but 3 would be a seriously challenging! I hope you have a great week.

    • Thank you, Katherine:). All our gardening centres are shut, so we cannot get any new plants. Luckily, my garden is mostly fully of periennials – but I do have gaps. But yes – it is really tough! Take care and have a peaceful, healthy week.

  10. Glad the weather has been so good! We had a beautiful day here today as well and it felt so good to be outside and soak in some sun.

    The toddlers reaching out to each other in the store- isn’t that heartbreaking how hard this must be for the little ones? Unbelievable. Hope you are well this week. 🙂

    • I know… it brought a lump to my throat, too, Greg. We have, apparently, one more lovely day of sun and then it’s wind, rain and cold weather for us – so I might just spend the afternoon in the garden, bunking off and reading instead of working!

      • That sounds good! And it’s been rainy here today too, so I guess the sun has gone away at least temporarily!!

  11. I love the beautiful flowers. Doesn’t it feel like the natural world has been exceptionally beautiful this year, almost to console us for our inability to go anywhere? Or maybe it’s always this beautiful and we usually just overlook it?

    The image you presented of the two young children reaching out for each other reminds me of Easter when my son and his wife and two kids did a drive-by. They came into the driveway and rolled down the windows of their truck. My granddaughter started to cry when they wouldn’t let her get out of the car, and she yelled, “Nana and Papa, I thought I was going to come stay with you.”

    You’ve certainly been very productive reading-wise and blog-wise. I’m in a slump right now, in both reading and writing, in my whole life, really. I’ve got to do better.

    • No… I don’t think you have to do better! You are wonderful, just the way you are. None of us are invulnerable – we are all dealing with really hard stuff – it must have been heartbreak to hear your granddaughter crying because she wanted to stay with you. And I think this whole thing is impacing us in a variety of ways – I’m still in full flight, if you want to know. Which is why I keep escaping. It doesn’t make me better – just fleet of foot! So if you need to slump while you process what is happening, then don’t somehow turn that into a failure – it’s just what it is. Stay save and be kind to yourself:)x

  12. Little children are suffering more from the lockdown because you can’t explain the situation to them, not without risking to terrify them, but that scene you depicted truly broke my heart. Let’s hope that the next weeks will see a lessening of the restrictions – and once more I bless technology that allows us to actually see loved ones besides hearing their voices… 🙂

    • It is a boon, isn’t it, Maddalena – the technology, but that isn’t a real replacement for small children whose social development needs human contact… It’s a hard one!

    • Thank you, Kimberly – that must be so tiring! Though apparently our amazing weather is about to change – tomorrow brings rain and temperatures far more usual for the time of year *sigh* Oh well – it was fabulous while it lasted…

  13. What lovely photos of your garden! I was cursed with a black thumb which I’m trying to change. I’m growing some herbs indoors and so far I haven’t killed anything. Nothing has really sprouted either. Lol. Maybe soon! Glad to hear your daughter and family are all well.

    • Thank you, SJ:). I think it also depends on where you’re living. We used to live in a stone cottage without any central heating in Somerset and plants grew like weeds for me there. But since we’ve moved into houses with radiators, the dry heat really doesn’t agree with most of them. The soil in our garden is super-fertile so that everything is very lush – that’s not down to me, either:). Have a peaceful, healthy week!

  14. I still have to go to work each day and am putting in longer hours. I think I’ll take a little time off after the lockdown is lifted. The weather is gorgeous here and everything is growing so fast. Thanks for sharing the lovely photos.

  15. Love your gardening pictures! Thanks for sharing 🙂 We’re finally warming up a bit here in Michigan. And now I want to read Q. Same author as Vox, which was also thought-provoking. Enjoy your week and stay safe!

    • Oh it was would been much grimmer – in fact I’m quite shocked at just how much I’ve struggled the last two days, even though I know we need the rain:(.

  16. Your daughter is amazing! How wonderful she could create some sort of balance for the older kids so she can make sure the little one gets the attention she needs. But that is heartbreaking about the inability to see other children. Are any of your child care centers open? Ours are for essential workers, but I’ve also seen some home day cares stay open, too…some odd mixed messages here.

    And your garden looks GORGEOUS! I’m hoping to finally dig out this nasty old thorny-thing in our front yard and plant a new shrub. 🙂

    • No… all our childcare is aimed at essential workers – and given how touchy-feely that agegroup is, then it probably wouldn’t be wise until our infection rates have stablised on their downward track…

      Our flowers are looking fab – but sadly, so are the weeds!

      • Lol… I have to say, I haven’t been out there and dug them up – so frankly, I have the same attitude towards them as I do the dust gathering on every surface of the house. They’re not going anywhere… I’ll get to them. Eventually…

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