Sunday Post – 2nd August, 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.

The week started off wet, but since midweek we’ve had a series of hot, sunny days again. So on Wednesday, my daughter invited me to join her and the children at Swanbourne Lake in Arundel for a picnic. While it was very busy, everyone was mindful and socially distancing, which was good to see. We had lunch right by a wild flower meadow, watching butterflies and grasshoppers, which was a treat. We then walked around the lake at little Eliza’s pace until she got tired enough to return to her pushchair and rounded off the outing with an ice cream treat. Lovely! The pics this week are from Swanbourne Lake.

On Thursday, Himself and I needed to shop in town – and afterwards visited our first café for a cup of tea and piece of cake since lockdown. There was plenty of space inside as many people were sitting outside and we really appreciated this slight return to normality. I was due to go shopping with my sister, but she woke up yesterday morning in agony with sciatica, so I took my TENS machine over, along with some shopping and by the time I left she was feeling a lot better. I returned home to find Himself rather flustered. A fledgling gull being herded out of the garden, instead hopped into the kitchen and wandered through the ground floor. Luckily Himself managed to manoeuvre it out of the front door! We’ll be glad when the young gulls have got the hang of flying…

Last week I read:
Last Dragon Standing – Book 5 of the Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron
There is no way to write a blurb for this final book without spoiling all of the others. Suffice it to say, mysteries resolve, dragons war, pigeons abound, and Julius must risk himself in ways he never dreamed possible as Bob’s grand plan finally comes to fruition.

But the Great Seer of the Heartstrikers isn’t the only one whose schemes are nearing completion. The Nameless End is coming, and even the machinations of the world’s most brilliant dragon seer might not be enough to stop it. As the world comes crashing down, it’s up Julius to prove what he’s always known: that seers can be wrong, and Nice Dragons don’t always finish last.
I’ve loved this series. Dragons… mages… ghost cat… and a cracking climactic battle that lasts most of the book. Aaron manages to round everything up in a suitably dramatic fashion. Review to follow.

The Relentless Moon – Book 3 of the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and sabotage plague the space program. The IAC’s goal of getting as many people as possible off Earth before it becomes uninhabitable is being threatened.

Elma York is on her way to Mars, but the Moon colony is still being established. Her friend and fellow Lady Astronaut Nicole Wargin is thrilled to be one of those pioneer settlers, using her considerable flight and political skills to keep the program on track. But she is less happy that her husband, the Governor of Kansas, is considering a run for President.
Wow! I’ve loved the previous two books in Elma’s pov, but this last book in the trilogy is just fantastic. Nicole is a fabulous protagonist and the tense cat and mouse thriller this book develops into had me reading into the night. One of my outstandings reads of the year so far. Review to follow.

The Outcast Dead – Book 6 of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths
Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway uncovers the bones of a Victorian murderess while a baby snatcher threatens modern-day Norfolk in this exciting new entry in a beloved series.
Every year a ceremony is held in Norwich for the bodies in the paupers’ graves: the Service for the Outcast Dead. Ruth has a particular interest in this year’s proceedings. Her recent dig at Norwich Castle turned up the body of the notorious Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. Now Ruth is the reluctant star of the TV series Women Who Kill, working alongside the program’s alluring history expert, Professor Frank Barker.

DCI Harry Nelson is immersed in the case of three children found dead in their home. He is sure that the mother is responsible. Then another child is abducted and a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder claims responsibility. Are there two murderers afoot, or is the Childminder behind all the deaths? The team must race to find out-and the stakes couldn’t be any higher when another child goes missing.
If I’d known in advance this one was all about child abductions, I probably would have given it a miss, but I didn’t realise until I was properly caught up in the story – and by then I was hooked. Still enjoying watching Ruth grow in confidence professionally and as a mother. Mini-review to follow.

AUDIOBOOK The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents – Book 28 of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Maurice and the rats have teamed up with a young lad named Keith to implement a clever moneymaking scheme. Upon entering a town, the rats make a general nuisance of themselves — stealing food and widdling on things — until the townsfolk become desperate to get rid of them. Then Maurice and Keith appear on the scene and offer to save the day by ridding the town of its infestation for a small fee. It seems like a surefire plan until the group arrives in the town of Bad Blintz and gets hooked up with Malicia, a young girl with a vivid imagination and a knack for finding trouble. When it’s discovered that Bad Blintz already has a rat problem — one that a couple of shifty-eyed rat catchers claim to have under control — things turn deadly.
Pratchett’s magic goes on working its charm. There are some hefty themes tackled in this apparently innocuous children’s adventure featuring a talking cat, some talking rats and a not-quite-so-chatty orphan hoping to make his way in the world. Review to follow.

My posts last week:

Castellan the Black and His Wise Draconic Musings

Review of AUDIOBOOK The Fire Court – Book 2 of the Marwood and Lovett series by Andrew Taylor

Friday Face-off featuring Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Feathertide by Beth Cartwright

Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring Afterland by Lauren Beukes

Tuesday Treasures – 6

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Chaos Vector – Book 2 of The Protectorate series by Megan E. O’Keefe

Review of Velocity Weapon – Book 1 of The Protectorate series by Megan E. O’Keefe

Sunday Post – 26th July 2020

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

Black Beauties Cindy’s fabulous pics of some really quirky birds…

How to (Try to) Edit a Book #LikeABoss I’ve been mired in the thickets of Editing Hell the editing process for what feels like forever. So I read this and howled with laughter – and then howled again in pained recognition…

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books with Red in the Title Isn’t there a lot of them? What about your favourite genre – how many can you come up with?

Mars or Ocean Moons? ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ A question often asked of authors – and this is an instance where you can see that process in action…

Thursday Doors – Rosepark Farm I’m finding plants and flowers such a comfort right now – and here are some stunning examples of the world’s favourite flower if you’re like me…

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

58 responses »

    • Thank you, Vi:)). It was another magical family day. Having been cut off from them – spending time now in their company has an extra edge of both pleasure – and dread for what the future holds…

  1. The Outcast Dead – being listed on my TBR list right now.

    There’s a gull in my kitchen. Now doesn’t that sound like a super great title for a book? Get writing Sarah…

    Glad you had such a lovely time with your family. Good for you on having coffee and cake. Somethings will always have un-measurable value.

    Have a wonderful week! Here’s my The Sunday Post

    • Lol… it hadn’t occurred to me that I could use Himself’s gull adventure as a book title! Hm… how to work that into a book about a grumpy dragon, though? Castellan would regard the gull as a snack for the children! I hope Stinky is soon better and that this week is a lovely one. Give Elza a cuddle from me!

  2. Your outing with the kids at the lake sounds wonderful. We did something similar with our local kids and grandkids at a nearby lake/park. It’s wonderful to be able to spend the time together. I enjoyed your photos.

    • Having these kinds of outings with the family is like gold right now. Especially as I’m not convinced this relative freedom is going to last… I’m glad you enjoyed the pics:)).

  3. I love your lake photos, how peaceful and relaxing! And I’m glad to hear your loved The Relentless Moon. I plan on starting the series at some point, and I wish I had more free time right now😁

    • Wouldn’t it be marvellous if all we had to do is read? I’d love it! And yes – the Lady Astronaut series is awesome, so well written and the overall narrative is so cleverly developed:).

  4. I have only read two books in the Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series…and I definitely want to read more.

    I am glad you got to enjoy a cup of tea and cake in a restaurant…it sounds like bliss! Looking forward to that day. I used to take those little outings for granted.

    Enjoy your books and your week, and thanks for visiting my blog.

    • Oh yes – this was a big milestone for both of us. I’m in no hurry to go and have a meal out – but having a cuppa and a slice of cake was wonderful. And yes, I’m going to continue reading the Ruth Galloway series – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the progression so far, although some books are better than others, which is inevitable in a longer running series. Have a great week, Laurel.

  5. Lucky you to be able to get out so much. I love the pictures from your picnic. Beautiful place to visit and beautiful kids. Mosquitoes have emerged after the storm that came through last week, and that can be a little frustrating. I’m sure the county will knock them down when they start spraying in a few weeks. When my mom first moved to Texas in the late 40s, she couldn’t see out her windows for the mosquitoes.

    I don’t know how I missed Terry Pratchett for so long. Still I’ve only read a half dozen of his books. I’d love to read more.

    It’s been forever since I’ve read a great scifi book. I need to get with you and see what you’d recommend. The best half-dozen scifi (not fantasy) books from the last thirty years, maybe.

    • Urg! I hate mosquitoes… luckily there weren’t many around. And I’m delighted you are enjoying Terry Pratchett’s work so much – he’s a joy, as well as being really clever.

      And yes – I’m very aware that we’re very fortunate to have this period where we can get together and get out together, so I’m making the most of it. Who knows how long it will last?

      As for the science fiction reads – I’m assuming you aren’t interested in reading any series – and I’m also assuming you don’t want anything too bleak. A fair amount of science fiction can be… I’ve got a handful of recommendations – they’re not necessarily ‘accepted’ classics, though several are, but as far as I’m concerned they are all entertainingly enjoyable reads. My first recommendation is Novacene – a non-fiction read by James Lovelock, which is a fascinating book by a remarkable man.
      The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Green is an extraordinary book, I think. The writing is rich and sensual.
      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is part of the Oxford Time Travel series, but they can all be treated as standalones. It’s funny and clever and completely escapist.
      Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall is for children, but Himself and I loved this one. Funny and profound in ways that only excellent children’s fiction can be.
      The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers is supposedly the first of a series, but it is a very tenuous connection. Another lovely, character-led read.
      The Martian by Andy Weir – classic space thriller set on Mars – and please don’t judge the book by the film that sold it short. It messed up the science fiction AND wasn’t anything like funny enough.
      The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway is a bit of a brick, but the pages will turn themselves. It’s a rip-roaring full-on adventure with a cracking twist ending.
      Heavy Time by C.J. Cherryh is a bit more tense and a thriller and I know it is part of a series – but it can be read as a standalone with no difficulty. I love her immersive style.

      If you are looking for proper series where the narrative arc runs across the books – let me know. I’ll provide some more suggestions. You’ll notice that with a few exceptions, these are all reasonably modern reads – the reason being that a lot of the earlier sci fi was plot-led and action-heavy so in my opinion, hasn’t aged all that well.

  6. Oh I’m so glad you’ve been able to get out and about – I’m still a little bit housebound working from home at the moment so should really make more effort to go for a wander in my evenings!

    I really can’t wait to read the Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal – I now have the first two books in the series so there is definitely no excuse (other than my TBR Mountain of Doom!).

    Thank you for the mention, Sarah! Have a great week! 😀

    • You’re welcome, Proxy:). I’m not very good at keeping moving and fit, I’m afraid – I must get better! And I very highly recommend the Lady Astronaut series – it’s one of my reading highlights of the year so far:)). Though I know allll about the Mountain of Doom! I hope you have a great week, Proxy:)

  7. A gull in the house…I think that there’s a story here!

    I’m glad to see you’re moving ahead in the Ruth Galloway series, Sarah. I’m just now reading her newest, “The Lantern Men,” and it’s great!

  8. There was a heat wave in Belgium too! But I see you had a good time with that pic nic! I am know realizing how much I am missing my friends!

    • It’s brutal business, being so cut off from those we care about, isn’t it? It’s one of the hardest parts of the pandemic, I think. Have a good week, Sophie:)

  9. I love hearing about rain elsewhere. We have had such a dry summer. Usually in Arizona we have monsoons in the summer months–sudden deluges that flood the washes and that dry up 3 hours later.. The outdoor temperature can be reduced from 115 degrees fahrenheit (no, I’m not kidding) to 75 degrees in ten minutes. So it’s hot and dry :/. Thanks for the books!

    • Oh my goodness -that is a completely alien experience for us here… The temperature gets into the 90s and everyone wilts and the roads melt. We’re only really set up for drizzle in this country… I hope you have a cooler week and the miracle of rain that doens’t try to beat you flat!

  10. oh what a great week! You had some nice outings. I’ve noticed more butterflies in my garden. They like the mint which is overtaking the whole herb bed. Ice cream! Cake! You’re also reading some great books I want to read. Soon.

    I got a big chuckle out of the gulls. I have had bats in my old house in Mpls several years ago, and a bird once in a rental townhouse there. A friend had a squirrel which is the worst because it pooped everywhere.

    • Oh, I’m so relieved that we don’t have many squirrels here. I’m not a fan – they are a pest where my parents live. While the gulls are noisy and a bit messy – I am fond of them.

      And yes – we had a lovely time. I’m making the most of it, because I’m sure how much longer we’ll be able to get together… Have a great week, Anne:)

    • Thank you, Heather – I did! And I cannot deny that I’m very glad that while Himself was trying to shepherd a young seagull out of the house – I was still having a cuppa with my sister! I hope that you, too, have a great week:)

  11. A picnic on the lake sounds so nice as does a visit to a cafe! A sense of normalacy in these uncertain times. I hope your sister continues to feel better. Oh, I can feel her pain just thinking about it! A gull in the house would have given me quite a fright. I am glad it got out safely again. Rachel Aaron’s series sounds like one I would really like. Magic and ghost cats. 🙂 I am glad you’ve enjoyed the series. I enjoyed one of Mary Robinette Kowal’s earlier books and would like to read more by her one day. I hope you have a great week. Take care, Sarah!

    • Yes, it was a lovely outing. And yes – I’m hoping my sister continues to recover – I know that pain only too well. And I won’t deny that I am mightily relieved I was out when the young gull took a walk though the house.

      Oh yes – the Heartstriker series is huge fun if you like your urban fantasy laced with dragon goodness… And I highly recommend the Lady Astronaut series, too. I hope that you, too, have a wonderful week, Wendy:))

  12. Your Swanbourne outing sounds wonderful. I love watching butterflies, myself. I’m not usually a bug person haha but watching butterflies meander about is so relaxing. 🙂 And wow- more gull adventures! I’m glad the errant fellow was able to be maneuvered out without too much incident!!

    Hope you are well this week and take care. 🙂

    • Yes – butterflies! Aren’t they magical? And bees… I LOVE watching bees, which I’ve loads and loads of in the garden:)). Less relaxing – the young gulls! Hopefully they will get the message that they shouldn’t land in the garden sooner rather than later… We were so lucky with the weather at Swanbourne Lake. Here’s hoping you, too, have a great week and plenty of good books:)).

  13. Being able to enjoy again little pleasures like sitting at a cafe for a welcome treat feels like a miracle indeed, and I hope that this will be a permanent lesson the lockdown taught us, to cherish those little moments that we used to take for granted….

  14. Wow. You had quite the week! I haven’t done much since lockdown in March. Not even eating out. Like at all. I’m beginning to go stir crazy. Your garden is beautiful! Really looking great!

    • Yes, I was a bit shaken at how difficult I initially found it to start going out and about, SJ. But I’m determined to make the most of it, because I’m not convinced we’ll avoid a 2nd spike…

      As for the garden – I’m cheating – it’s is horribly weedy and needs lots of work, but there are a bunch of lovely plants in there that are doing their thing:)).

  15. It looks like you all had a wonderful time, I heard that restrictions have been tightened in Northern England, I hope your area can avoid it.
    Our problem area is in the South with Victoria having to impose quite brutal restrictions, I’m hoping it won’t spread.

    Wishing you a great reading week

    • Thank you, Shelleyrae. As we live on the south coast of England, right now we are avoiding the problems experienced in other parts of the country. All we can do is observe the rules regarding masks and social distancing and cross our fingers that we don’t endure a 2nd spike. So sorry to hear you are in the grip of a hotspot and hope that the infection curve flattens out quickly. I hope that you, too, have a great reading week – and that it is peaceful and healthy!

  16. I’m glad that you and your family are able to visit and go on outings together. A picnic sounds truly wonderful, especially when you’ve got lovely weather. I’ll be so glad when we finally reach the stage where such visits and outings are possible to do safely.

  17. Sounds like a really lovely week SJ, except perhaps your sister’s sciatica but good you were able to make her feel better. I love the sound of The Amazing Maurice – Pratchett + talking cat sounds like it was written for me! Look forward to your review of it. Take care and happy reading. 🙂

    • Thank you, Jessica. Oh, I highly recommend The Amazing Maurice – it SAYS it’s for children, but it is pack full of profound humour and sharp-edged observation. I would LOVE to do a project on this book…

  18. What a wonderful week Sarah. It sounds like you and your family had a wonderful day together and the pictures are amazing. I can’t picture gulls in the house, I don’t think I would be calm at all. It is nice to get little bits of normalcy back. I ate lunch in the outdoor cafe at the golf course, and that was my first time not doing takeout. It was nice. I know I am almost a week late reading this, but I hope you have a great weekend.

    • Thank you, Carla – yes, it was a lovely week. And no – I was very glad that Himself was the one who had to deal with the young gull and not me!

      Glad you were also able to get out and enjoy being back to normal. I felt quite emotional going out to have a coffee – I hope the meal was delicious, Carla:)). And I hope that you, too, have a lovely weekend.

    • It really is a great place to visit – especially on a sunny day. There’s Swanbourne Lake, the Castle and WWT – which we are going to visit again, tomorrow:)). Do book ahead there, though…

    • Oh, they are so very precious. And all of them are adorable… Glad you liked the books – and yes… I know about the tottering TBR all too well! I’m not doing a very good job of getting mine under control, either!

  19. I miss the butterflies! The one freak spring where we successfully planted and grew giant zinnias we had oodles of butterflies come through later that summer, along with a few hummingbirds–incredibly rare where we are! The next year I planted: nothing. Apparently I didn’t water enough, sigh.

    Bo, too, suffers from sciatica at times, so I totally get your sister’s pain–when that nerve is pinched, you cannot move AT ALL. That’s so wonderful you were able to help her out–and that your husband could help that gull! I’ve never had birds in the house, and I pray I never do because chances are the kids would hide it from me as long as possible. 🙂

    • I swear by the TENS machine – perhaps Bo could get one? It’s certainly revolutionised my life since I started using it. They are about £25 from Amazon, which is about half the cost of a physio session, so it paid for itself within the first week, given I was regularly going twice a month and more if I was particularly stricken…

      As for the gull – good luck with the children getting remotely close. They are large birds with wicked beaks and a fearsome reputation! Which was why I was so freaked out – there was a case recently where a pair of gulls killed a dog. And why I’m so very relieved that the gulls nesting next door seem very chilled out – they have a rep for attacking people who go near their fledglings…

      • Oh heavens! I didn’t realize they were that vicious. That reminds me of the Canadian geese that love staking their territory and bully around other birds. When we took kids to feed ducks at the park, an evil Gaggle had already settled in. They stared at us feeding the ducks, then slooooowly waddled their way over and hissing off the ducks. When Biff tried to keep giving bread to a duck, the goose got in between and started hissing at Biff just a few feet from his face. We threw our bread over to the side and made our escape!

      • Lol… yes! Geese can be evil – the Romans used to use them to guard their property:)). Glad you all managed to escape without being pecked!

    • Thank you, Deb:)). Overall, I’m definitely recovering – but isn’t it just the way of things – I’ve been coping with a major relapse this last week and a half, so have been spending most of it in bed again. Oh well. Onwards and upwards!

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