Sunday Post – 20th December, 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.

Last night’s press conference by the PM regarding the new strain of COVID has wiped out Christmas plans for so many folks – my heart goes out to you if you were in the middle of preparing to see family you hadn’t laid eyes on for such a long time. We’re in Tier Two, so we have avoided the latest Tier Four measures – for now, anyway. Himself and I had our flu jabs during the week and I was mightily impressed at how quickly and efficiently the whole operation was organised. And our surgery has also contacted us to inform us that in due course we will be notified about the COVID vaccination programme being rolled out, which is a glimmer of hope.

Watching the Strictly Come Dancing final last night was quite an emotional experience – all those folks had worked so hard, isolating themselves from their families to take part. And each of them danced with their hearts, as well as their bodies. I’ve watched all the finals to date and this one was different and special.

On Wednesday, our Writing Group met on Zoom, and instead of our usual pre-Christmas bash in a restaurant, we offered up our lyrics for a 1980s pop song for Liz, who is writing a play about two women who were a pop duo. It was hilarious and full of laughter, tempered by the fact that one of our group is isolating, as he has tested positive for COVID. He runs a shop and during the busiest week of the year for him, he’s had to close.

The pics this week are an assortment of our decorations – apologies if you decorate your house with any kind of theme or taste, because I don’t. If it sparkles garishly, or sings a cheesy song with a cracked electronic voice while jiggling slightly inappropriately, then I’m up for cramming it onto a mantlepiece or other suitable surface, all the better to penetrate the seasonal gloomy weather.

Last week I read:
Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders: a Dominion of the Fallen novella by Aliette de Bodard
Lunar New Year should be a time for familial reunions, ancestor worship, and consumption of an unhealthy amount of candied fruit.

But when dragon prince Thuan brings home his brooding and ruthless husband Asmodeus for the New Year, they find not interminable family gatherings, but a corpse outside their quarters. Asmodeus is thrilled by the murder investigation; Thuan, who gets dragged into the political plotting he’d sworn off when he left, is less enthusiastic.

It’ll take all of Asmodeus’s skill with knives, and all of Thuan’s diplomacy, to navigate this one—as well as the troubled waters of their own relationship….
Writing a successful novella takes a particular skillset, which de Bodard clearly has. I’ve read a couple of books in this series, but it was a while ago and although I enjoyed the conspiracy and the insights into this particularly cutthroat world, I was aware I probably would have appreciated it more if I’d recently reconnected with this series.

Scardown – Book 2 of the Jenny Casey series by Elizabeth Bear
The year is 2062, and after years on the run, Jenny Casey is back in the Canadian armed forces. Those who were once her enemies are now her allies, and at fifty, she’s been handpicked for the most important mission of her life–a mission for which her artificially reconstructed body is perfectly suited. With the earth capable of sustaining life for just another century, Jenny–as pilot of the starship Montreal–must discover brave new worlds. And with time running out, she must succeed where others have failed.

Now Jenny is caught in a desperate battle where old resentments become bitter betrayals and justice takes the cruelest forms of vengeance. With the help of a brilliant AI, an ex—crime lord, and the man she loves, Jenny may just get her chance to save the world. If it doesn’t come to an end first…
Although I’d read the first book relatively recently, I found it quite difficult to get back into this world and fully bond with Jenny again. However, once I was back in the flow, I enjoyed the action-packed storyline with several major twists. Mini-review to follow.

AUDIOBOOK A Quiet Life in the Country – Book 1 of the Lady Hardcastle Mysteries series by T.E. Kinsey
Lady Emily Hardcastle is an eccentric widow with a secret past. Florence Armstrong, her maid and confidante, is an expert in martial arts. The year is 1908 and they’ve just moved from London to the country, hoping for a quiet life.

But it is not long before Lady Hardcastle is forced out of her self-imposed retirement. There’s a dead body in the woods, and the police are on the wrong scent. Lady Hardcastle makes some enquiries of her own, and it seems she knows a surprising amount about crime investigation…

As Lady Hardcastle and Flo delve deeper into rural rivalries and resentment, they uncover a web of intrigue that extends far beyond the village. With almost no one free from suspicion, they can be certain of only one fact: there is no such thing as a quiet life in the country.
Himself recommended this one – the rest of the audiobooks on my Kindle were too bleak for now – and it was just what I needed. A beautifully narrated, humorous and well-crafted murder mystery. Review to follow.

Inherit the Shoes – Book 1 of A Jersey Girl Legal Mystery series by E.J. Copperman
New Jersey prosecutor Sandy Moss is tired of petty criminals, and a new job at a glitzy Los Angeles law firm seems the perfect career move. Putting 3,000 miles between her and her ex-boyfriend is just an added bonus.

But on Sandy’s first morning as a family attorney, she inadvertently kills her new career stone dead when she offends her boss during a meeting with the firm’s top celebrity client, charismatic TV star Patrick McNabb. But that’s not as dead as Patrick’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Patsy, is that evening, when she’s discovered shot by an arrow, her husband standing over her. Did Patrick really kill his wife in a dispute over a pair of shoes? All signs point to yes. But Patrick is determined to clear his name, using all the legal skills he’s learned from playing a lawyer on TV, and to Sandy’s deep dismay, she’s the only person he’ll allow to help . . .
This was a joy – I haven’t encountered this author before but it appears he’s written other murder mystery series, not that I needed telling. The writing was too accomplished and confident to be a newbie – while the plotting was masterfully done. Review to follow.


My posts last week:

Review of End Game – Book 8 of the Fallen Empire series by Lindsay Buroker

Castellan the Black and His Wise Draconic Sayings

Friday Face-off featuring The Invisible Library – Book 1 of The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman

Two MURDER MYSTERY mini-reviews: The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne and The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

Can’t-Wait Wednesday featuring The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Review of The Zig Zag Girl – Book 1 of the Stephens and Mephisto series by Elly Griffiths

Monday Post – 14th December 2020

Thank you for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting on my blog. If celebrating, I hope you and yours have a chance to enjoy the holidays – and whatever is going on in your life, may the coming week be a peaceful, healthy one. Take care.x

34 responses »

  1. I like your Christmas decorations, they’re fun ! Is that a penguin with red glasses ? Lol ! We need fun these days. I’m glad you loved the Copperman, I’ll be waiting patiently for your review. Meanwhile, have a wonderful week and enjoy Christmas, mwah !

    • Thank you Izabel – yes it is a penguin with red-rimmed sunglasses singing ‘Ice, Ice Baby’… and jiggling while he does…

      Oh yes – I loved the Copperman – it was my first book and it won’t be my last:). I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a peaceful, happy holiday!

  2. I’ve heard other bloggers talk about Inherit the Shoes, now I’m curious to read your review. And I love your decorations! Hope you have a lovely Christmas😁

  3. This new fast spreading Covid strain is worrying. I’m glad you don’t have to go into Tier Four, but hope you and your family stay safe. Several of my relatives who are front line workers have had the vaccine and are doing well. One of my daughters is an essential worker so she will get a vaccine a little sooner than some, I think.

    You have given me several books to look for. I always know I’ll find good-sounding books when I read your blog! I love your pictures of decorations! That is how we decorate, too!

    I hope your Christmas is happy, Sarah. Take care.

    • Thank you for your kind concern, Jan. I’m glad you have relations who have already had the vaccine – it sounds like progress!

      Glad you found my recent reads helpful – and it’s good to know there are others out there who don’t have colour-themed trees or tasteful baubles. And I wish you the best Christmas you can have and a happy peaceful holiday:)

  4. Thank you for the beautiful pictures. I don´t have any decoration up but my parents do. We will hopefully be together on Christmas and I hope that the self-isolation I put myself under is worth it and helps. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your loved ones. Stay safe and well.

  5. We’re back in lockdown here in the Netherlands and decide to stay home for Christmas, it’s a shame, but it’s the safest option in these times with the numbers high. Hopefully the vaccine can be rolled out soon. Your Christmas decorations look great and festive! And that’s nice you got to zoom chat with your writing group. Have a great week!

    • I am sorry you are also back in Lockdown – and I hope you get the vacines rolled out soon. I also hope you have a wonderful Christmas together – I know from your lovely recipes that you will be having a fabulous meal! I hope you have a lovely week…

  6. Lady Hardcastle seems like so much fun!! I’ll have a look.

    I love all your fun Christmas Decorations. That’s what Christmas should like Sarah! Well done!

    We’ve also had a Grinch stole the Christmas Beaches week. All beaches are closed. But all the malls and shops are open… I cannot see the sense in that at all!! So many holiday makers in our little town and I think the numbers are just going to spike even more.

    We are just having a quiet Christmas. I’ll most probably spend half the day reading. Having two couples who also don’t have family nearby for Christmas Eve and that’s about it!

    Have a wonderful Christmas Sarah. May your day be filled with love and joy!

    Lots of Love,

    Elza Reads

    • Thank you, Mareli for your very kind comments about my Christmas decorations. Himself says it’s the only time my taste totally deserts me – and he’s right:). But then he isn’t a fan of jiggling, singing Christmas trees and penguins…

      Have to say, I think it’s nuts to ban the beaches. We like going down there, because there is enough room to keep socially distanced and the brisk breeze sweeps away any germs!

      It sounds like my daughter’s plans are going to be suddenly changing so they are coming to us, after all – so it looks as though our Christmas won’t be so quiet after all! Have the loveliest time – curling up with a good book sounds like heaven:))

  7. I just read an article about the new lockdowns and I’m sorry for all impacted. Hopefully they are able to stop the spread of the new strain. It seems like we saw the light at the end of the tunnel only to have it move further away!
    Happy Christmas!

    • Thank you, Samantha. I feel so sorry for those who are caught up in Tier 4. But at the same time it is a comfort to know that those who are monitoring the situation have managed to identify the new strain and take steps to deal with it. And a Happy Christmas to you, too:))

    • Thank you, Anne. I am heartened that my surgery has seen fit to contact me to let me know that the COVID vaccination will be available in due course… It does give a sense that the end is in sight.

      And I hope that you too have the most marvellous Christmas:))

    • Ah… a kindred spirit regarding Christmas decorations – I knew there was a strong reason why I liked your blog so much:)). I’m not convinced that our COVID vaccinations are exactly around the corner – I think we are talking months, rather than weeks, but I know the target is to have the majority of frontline, key workers and vulnerable age-groups jabbed by Easter… And as I’m in my 60s and Himself is a key worker, we’ll probably be ‘done’ by then.

      I hope you, too, have the best week you possibly can:).

  8. We don’t have any spare surfaces for decorations, they are all taken up with books! We do have the Christmas tree up finally though.
    I just learned about the scaling up of UK restrictions, I’m glad you aren’t affected as such.

    Wishing you a great reading week, and a merry Christmas 🎄

  9. Glad to hear you got the flu shot and you’re in line for the Covid vaccine! That’s great news! Have a Merry Christmas!

  10. I really enjoyed Dancing with the Stars this season. It was such a nice break and a bit emotional too. Yay for the flu shot and I’m so excited about the COVID vaccine. We should be in the second wave and I’m hoping the pediatric trials go well so my son can get his soon.

    • Oh, that’s such good news! The Oxford vaccine is now being rolled out here in the UK, with plans to sell it at cost to poorer nations so they can also protect their populations, too.

      However, right now we are being zapped with this more transmissible strain and our numbers of spiralling up to where they were last spring… Let’s hope we can see the end of this terrible illness, soon!

  11. My Christmas decorations are a mix of whatever people have given me over the years and stuff that said buy me, no theme here at all. I love your decorations. It looks like I have a couple new books to add to my TBR. Have a nice week Sarah and lets hope these restrictions do the trick.

  12. Cheers to your health, Friend, and a blessed New Year! I love that your creative spark still burns bright with your friends, and you’re doing all you can to light each other’s lives. Keep burning bright for all whom you care about in this darkness! xxxxxxx

    • Oh… thank you so much *she says tearily*. Right now, I’m feeling a tad panicked and overwhelmed – but we just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and holding onto to those we love and care about… Bless you for your encouragement and caring – it is a light in the darkness…

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