Sunday Post – 13th September, 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.

I’ve been very quiet over the last few days online, because we went away to celebrate our wedding anniversary, seeing as we’ve now been married 25 years. Which seems a ridiculous number of years on one level. Yet on another… I cannot conceive Life without Himself by my side. Last Sunday we went to a local Tai restaurant to celebrate Himself’s birthday and then on Monday, we sat down to plan our getaway to celebrate our Silver Wedding anniversary.

We stayed at the Ashdown Park Hotel and Spa, which is in the middle of Ashdown Forest of Winnie the Pooh fame, from Wednesday to Saturday. It’s an amazing place – this week’s pics are of the hotel and grounds. On Thursday, we visited Bateman’s, the National Trust property where Rudyard Kipling spent the last years of his life. Due to COVID-19, the house was closed, but the gardens were open and are lovely. The weather throughout our holiday was fabulous – bright sunshine which was warm enough for me, yet cool enough for Himself. We’d planned to visit Bodium Castle on Friday – but when it came around, we decided we’d rather spend the day in our gorgeous room. Later in the afternoon, we went for what was supposed to be a gentle walk in the extensive grounds – and got lost for about an hour in the forest, because the designated path had become impassable. We decided to push on, rather than turn off, as another path was clearly visible. Until it wasn’t… There was no phone signal worth the name and by half past five, we were still scrambling over fallen trees and through bracken. Fortunately, I listened to Himself, rather than follow my own wretched sense of direction and when we finally emerged from the forest onto a corner of the golf course, we were only a short walk from the actual hotel. During the walk we saw squirrels, a fox and deer.

We both were sorry to pack up and return home on Saturday, but were happy in the knowledge that we couldn’t have had a better time.

Last week I read:

Taken to Voraxia – Book 1 of the Xiveri Mates series by Elizabeth Stephens
Here’s what I know: aliens invade our colony every three years, hunt and claim the most beautiful of our women, then leave. Here’s what I don’t know: why the king of them is here this time, and why his black, glittering eyes are trained on me. A hybrid with red alien skin and brown human eyes, I’m not pretty. I’ve got no family and no plans to ever have one – least of all with this monster of a male. I’m an inventor, a mechanic, a tinkerer. The alien king wants me for reasons I can only guess at, but I’m not about to be taken for a slave and his response to me is something I know I can engineer my way out of.

He plans to come back for me when I’m of age, but he’ll have to find me first. Our little colony is a scary, desperate place and I’m less afraid to face it, than to face him or the strange, alien sensations he stirs…

She is my Xiveri mate, yet she runs from me – straight into the horrors of her small, savage moon colony. Slaughtering in her defense is easy, while gaining her trust will be the true challenge. She fears my kind and the horrors my treacherous general has inflicted on her humans. Does she not know that it is my blood rite to keep her safe against him and his even more dangerous off-world allies? No, she thinks herself my slave and in place of acceptance, offers me only pacts and bargains. Shamed by her pacts, I still take them all gluttonously, because though she knows only hate, I know only need.

Eventually, we will need more than just these pacts between us if I am to convince her that she is my Xiveri mate and if she is to take her place at my side, not as my slave, but as Voraxia’s queen.
I was a tad surprised at just how steamy this sci fi romance turned out to be. That said, the world and general premise behind the love story was well written and the characters were sympathetic with a strong backstory – which isn’t always the case with sexy stories. Mini-review to follow.

Earth Prime – Book 1 of the Earth Girl Aftermath stories by Janet Edwards
Earth Prime is the first of two collections of aftermath stories set in the distant future of the Earth Girl trilogy (Earth Girl, Earth Star, and Earth Flight). This collection is set immediately after Earth Flight, and focuses on Jarra, Fian, and the other archaeologists before they head to excavate the alien ruins on Fortuna.
I’m a real fan of Edwards’ writing and loved the Earth Girl series, so was delighted when Janet asked me if I was interested in reading an arc of her latest collection. In fact, it doesn’t read like a collection of stories – more like an extension of events surrounding Jarra’s class, before some of them head off to investigate the ruins on Fortuna. Review to follow.

AUDIOBOOK Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor – Book 2 of the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan
It’s been six weeks since Magnus and his friends returned from defeating Fenris Wolf and the fire giants. Magnus has adjusted to life at the Hotel Valhalla—as much as a once-homeless and previously alive kid can. As a son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of Odin’s chosen warriors, but he has a few good peeps among his hallmates on floor nineteen, and he’s been dutifully training for Ragnarok along with everyone else. His days have settled into a new kind of normal.

But Magnus should have known there’s no such thing as normal in the Nine Worlds. His friends Hearthstone and Blitzen have disappeared. A new hallmate is creating chaos. According to a very nervous goat, a certain object belonging to Thor is still missing, and the thunder god’s enemies will stop at nothing to gain control of it.
I really enjoy Riordan’s smart, contemporary take on the Norse pantheon, with Magnus as a sympathetic and funny narrator of his own adventures. In amongst all the fun, these books also spark an interest in ancient mythologies – my grandson is studying Classical History because of them. Mini-review to follow.

Kept From Cages – Book 1 of the Ikiri duology by Phil Williams
Reece’s gang of criminal jazz musicians have taken shelter in the wrong house. There’s a girl with red eyes bound to a chair. The locals call her a devil – but Reece sees a kid that needs protecting. He’s more right than he knows. Chased by a shadowy swordsman and an unnatural beast, the gang flee across the Deep South with the kid in tow. She won’t say where she’s from or who exactly her scary father is, but she’s got powers they can’t understand. How much will Reece risk to save her?

On the other side of the world, Agent Sean Tasker’s asking similar questions. With an entire village massacred and no trace of the killers, he’s convinced Duvcorp’s esoteric experiments are responsible. His only ally is an unstable female assassin, and their only lead is Ikiri – a black-site in the Congo, which no one leaves alive. How far is Tasker prepared to go for answers?
This headlong adventure is packed full of incident, and peopled by a cast of eccentric, memorable characters in vivid settings. A spinoff from Williams’ successful Ordshaw series, this enjoyable paranormal thriller is a real adrenaline ride. Review to follow.

Written in Red – Book 1 of The Others series by Anne Bishop
As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.
Himself has been nagging me to read this series for a while – and when we were away, I decided to tuck into this first book. I loved the premise and the taut writing, so inhaled this one throughout a lazy afternoon on the terrace. Review to follow.

A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
Fourteen-year-old Mona isn’t like the wizards charged with defending the city. She can’t control lightning or speak to water. Her familiar is a sourdough starter and her magic only works on bread. She has a comfortable life in her aunt’s bakery making gingerbread men dance. But Mona’s life is turned upside down when she finds a dead body on the bakery floor. An assassin is stalking the streets of Mona’s city, preying on magic folk, and it appears that Mona is his next target. And in an embattled city suddenly bereft of wizards, the assassin may be the least of Mona’s worries…
This is an utter joy. Mona is a delightful protagonist and I loved the world, where real danger is leavened by Mona’s tart take on the mess the adults are making of it. As for the magic, it’s a delight. Review to follow.

Murder of Crows – Book 2 of The Others series by Anne Bishop
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more. The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard – Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader – wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.
I returned to this beguiling world, as I’d thoroughly enjoyed reading about Meg and her struggle to put the horrors of her previous life behind her. This adventure is every bit as addictively readable as the first. Mini-review to follow.

My posts last week:

August 2020 Roundup

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Green Man’s Silence – Book 3 of The Green Man series by Juliet E. McKenna

Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring Dead Man in a Ditch – Book 2 of the Fetch Phillips Archives by Luke Arnold

Tuesday Treasures – 12

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Afterland by Lauren Beukes

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Fearless by Allen Stroud

Sunday Post – 6th September 2020

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

Here be Dragons…picky eaters (S.J. Higbee) Having been away – it was a lovely surprise to return to find this review of Picky Eaters by the Cap.

Guy’s security camera catches kid tearing it up on his driveway every day, so he decides to do something about it. And this won’t be the response you’ll be expecting…

My Top Ten Games of the Past Two Years I’m the wrong age to be a gamer, but these look tempting to me…

Subjective Chaos: our 2020 award winners This is an interesting list – do you agree with it?

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

53 responses »

  1. Happy Anniversary, Sarah! I hope you both had a lovely time away. And you still managed a productive reading week, as always. Ever since returning to work after my holiday I’ve found it hard balancing everything and I’m now rather behind with reviews and blog posts!

    And thank you for the link! 😀

    • Thank you, Laurel:). I’ve come to the conclusion that managing to find someone who continues to grow alongside you, rather than away from you, over the years is largely a matter of dumb luck. I’m just deeply grateful to be that lucky second time around!

      Written in Red is great fun and the world is well depicted. Himself got hold of the whole series a while ago and I’m just catching up with it. Have a great week.

  2. Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary, SJ 🥳 I am glad you managed to have a lovely meal and trip away to celebrate it. Also really pleased to hear you enjoyed Rick Riordan’s Magnus Bane book, as I loved Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and keep meaning to read more of his books. 📚 Take care and happy reading!

    • Thank you, Jessica! Oh yes – if you enjoyed the Percy Jackson series, then I highly recommend Magnus Chase, I’m loving the ride through the Norse pantheon, packed with incident and humour and Riordan’s own contemporary twist.

  3. Happy anniversary! I’m glad you were able to get away. With COVID-19 still spreading so quickly in the US, we decided to put off celebrating our 30th until next year. I doubt we’ll be traveling before next summer unless things really change here.

    But I loved seeing your photos of the Ashdown Forest and the hotel where you stayed, and reading about wandering around the 100-Acre Wood. It brought back memories of our family trip to Britain in 2002. We took our then-8-year-old to the Ashdown Forest to see Poohsticks Bridge and the nearby village, explored Bodiam Castle, and later went on to some other destinations. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m itching to go back and explore some other parts of the UK.

    Your review reminded me that I really enjoyed the first two Magnus Chase books, and need to read the third. (It’s been long enough that I should probably reread the first two, first.) And the Kingfisher book sounds charming. I have another of hers, as yet unread, and will definitely pick this one up.

    Have a lovely week!

    • We put it off planning the trip until the last minute as we weren’t sure what the situation would be regarding COVID-19. It’s not all that far from home, so no long car journey, and yet we hadn’t ever properly explored this corner – we loved it. I’ll be posting more pics tomorrow of the hotel and the surrounding grounds.

      So glad you, too, got a chance to see it. Winnie-the-Pooh is dear to my heart and having a chance to see the landscape that inspired the stories of Christopher Robin and his toys was a joy. I hope when this all clears up, you get a chance to return to the UK – it would be lovely to see you in the flesh!

      The Magnus Chase series is huge fun – and I absolutely loved Kingfisher’s tale. Himself has also got hold of ‘Swordheart’ which I’m looking forward to tucking into. I hope you, too, have a great week, Lark:)

  4. Happy anniversary! It sounds like you had a lovely time–except for getting lost in the woods! I’m glad that turned out okay! My husband and I used to babysit my much-younger cousins over their parents’ anniversary weekend. I always told the girls that our plans might not work out perfectly, but at least we always sent them home with stories to tell! It sounds like that’s the case with your walk in the woods! Enjoy your week!

    • Thank you, Jen. Yes… I seem to recall Himself telling me that once we got out of the woods, we’d be laughing about our adventure. I seem to recall telling right back that I’d be happier about that thought if I was more confident that we would get out! But yes – Life would be so boring if there weren’t these types of mishaps. And it’s lovely that you have those memories with your cousins – which I’m sure they also treasure:). Have a great week.

  5. Happy anniversary! The pictures are beautiful and I can imagine how lovely it must have been there. Your little adventure reminds me of my time when I go for a walk in our nearby forest. Have a wonderful new week and happy reading.

    • Thank you, Vi:). It is the loveliest spot… And yes – forests are magical places, something I was reminded of all over again. I hope you, too, have a wonderful reading week.

    • Thank you, Yvonne:)). We haven’t been anywhere much together for a while – and didn’t dare book anything in advance, given the current situation. So I’m very aware that this break of ours is a gift. I hope you have a lovely week.

    • Thank you, Anne:)). The weather was perfect for both of us – and given that I run cold and Himself runs hot, that doesn’t happen all that often. So glad it’s improving with you – I don’t know how anyone functions in the heat that you have to endure.

      So glad that you love The Others series – it’s good to know that it continues to be as gripping:)).

    • Thank you, Tammy:)). It was relaxing-ish… We had the loveliest time, but wearing masks everywhere in the hotel and keeping our distance from folks we probably would have chatted to, or shared a table with in other times, did put an invisible strain on things… I’m just deeply grateful that Himself and I rub along very happily together when there’s just the two of us. And that he got us back to the hotel before it got dark!

  6. What a lovely place to spend your anniversary! And what a great adventure you had. I have no sense of direction and would navigate in circles for years but thankfully my husband can navigate so he would have kept us out of too much trouble! I loved Written in Red but never got to the 2nd book even though I have it. Hope you have a great week.

    • Thank you, Katherine:)). We feel very lucky that the break worked out so well and that the weather behaved so perfectly. It would have been quite different if it had been wet and miserable. Yay for husbands with a sense of direction:)). I do recommend Murder of Crows, especially if you have it. It might be a handy escape right now for you… Wishing you the best week you can possibly have.x

  7. Happy anniversary! Congratulations on finding such a great person to spend twenty-five years of your life with. That’s a wonderful blessing. Such an exciting adventure during your trip, too. Glad it worked out well and you were not lost forever in the dark forest!

    Rick Riordan is one of my favorites (I’ll never forget when I first met him, sitting alone in a booth at a library conference, trying to hawk copies of a book with a forgettable cover, completely white except for a lightning bolt on the front). I would love to read that Norse series.

    I hope you have a lovely week.

    • Thank you, Deb – yes… I’m very mindful that I’ve been extremely lucky to have found Himself and that we are so happy together – and I never take it for granted. I’m also very grateful that I’m still not blundering around bracken-filled glades and scrambling over fallen tree trunks!

      As for meeting Rick Riordan before he became one of the most famous children’s authors on the planet – oooo… I shall be telling my grandson that story – and he will be IMPRESSED! He absolutely loved Riordan’s writing as he suffers from severe dyslexia and found Percy Jackson a really comforting role model. If you enjoyed the Percy Jackson stories, I do recommend Magnus Chase and his adventures, too. I hope that you, too, have a wonderful week.

  8. What a lovely way to celebrate your anniversary and what a lovely trip! As soon as we get some time, I want to take a few road trips right here in Texas. It has been too hot to travel even if things WERE open and not COVID infested.

    • Oh yes – we were a bit desperate to get away… Himself has been working throughout Lockdown and I have found being cooped up without my usual social whirl both draining and diminishing. But it wouldn’t have been half as nice if the weather hadn’t behaved so beautifully – something you can NEVER take for granted in this country.

      I hope the heat soon relinquishes its grip, Rae, and that you get a chance to hit the road sometime soon. Even if it is just a day trip somewhere with a picnic in the back of the car… Have a good week, my friend:).

  9. Happy anniversary! How awesome- and what an amazing place to stay. I love Winnie the Pooh so the idea of being in the area that inspired the stories is so neat. Glad you had an amazing time!

    Hope you have a wonderful new week and take care this week!

    • Thank you, Greg:)). Yes – it was the main reason why I wanted to explore that corner of the country – and it didn’t disappoint. I hope that you, too, have a great week.

  10. I’m jealous that you got out and you went somewhere! I haven’t been anywhere, not even to a restaurant, since February. Sigh. Your photos are lovely! Happy anniversary!!

  11. Happy silver wedding anniversary! 🥂I’m glad you were able to celebrate, and in such style!
    Ours is in November, and we were together five years before that. We don’t have any plans though my mother wants to throw us a family party, it wil, depend on where we stand with Covid.

    Wishing you a great reading week

    • Thank you so much, Shelleyrae:)). We were very lucky to be able to get away when we did. Ideally, it would have been lovely to have a family party, too. But that clearly wasn’t going to be possible without putting some of the older family members at risk, or leaving them at home. Not something we were prepared to do.

    • Thank you, Heather – I’m not sure where the time has gone, either:)). Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary – it’s such a stroke of luck when you find someone special!

    • Yes, I’ve just completed the second book – I can imagine that it makes for very enjoyable listening:)). Himself has the whole series, so I’ve got them stacked up on my Kindle, ready to go.

  12. Oh, what a lovely time–well, save for the getting lost thing, but at least the weather was kind and you enjoyed the nature. It’s a robust experience to balance all that time typing, riiiight? 🙂 But I’m glad you two are safe, well, and back. 🙂

    • Oh yes! I have the loveliest memories of that trip away – and given that it looks like we’ve got a bumpy patch ahead of us, it is always golden to have these kinds of times to look back on and feel grateful for:)).

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