Category Archives: daily life

Tuesday Treasures – 35 #Brainfluffbookblog

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This week on Tuesday Treasures, I am featuring more of our unkempt garden… Since I’ve taken these pics – on a day when I was feeling better – Himself has now done a lot of weeding, so it’s looking tidier! And I’m also able to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy it😊.


Tuesday Treasures – 34 #Brainfluffbookblog

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This week on Tuesday Treasures, I am featuring our VERY shaggy, rather dishevelled garden. Now I’m suffering from Long Covid, Himself – who was also badly smitten by the illness – now has to do all the cooking, cleaning and gardening, in addition to taking care of me and holding down a full-time job. Therefore the gardening has been a tad neglected… However, he has been weeding, if not cutting back or mowing – and I think the effect is really rather lovely. Now we just need a run of hot weather to be able to sit out in the sunshine and enjoy it.

The fallen echium is the result of a violent storm we had a couple of weeks ago. In all the time I’ve been growing echiums in the garden, since 2005, it’s the first time one has been blown over, but it’s still alive and flowering, so my instinct is to leave it there until the bees stop coming to it.


*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker #BrainfluffNETGALLEYbookreview #WeAreSatellinesbook review

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That cover first attracted me – and then the blurb. Any parent will recognise that opening line as the battlecry their offspring invariably use when they want the latest gismo – and the truth of it snagged my attention. And the fact that Tammy of Books, Bones and Buffy was highlighting it also made me look twice – she has a great knack for sniffing out the special ones…

BLURB: Everybody’s getting one.
Val and Julie just want what’s best for their kids, David and Sophie. So when teenage son David comes home one day asking for a Pilot, a new brain implant to help with school, they reluctantly agree. This is the future, after all. Soon, Julie feels mounting pressure at work to get a Pilot to keep pace with her colleagues, leaving Val and Sophie part of the shrinking minority of people without the device.

Before long, the implications are clear, for the family and society: get a Pilot or get left behind. With government subsidies and no downside, why would anyone refuse? And how do you stop a technology once it’s everywhere? Those are the questions Sophie and her anti-Pilot movement rise up to answer, even if it puts them up against the Pilot’s powerful manufacturer and pits Sophie against the people she loves most.

REVIEW: Initially, I started this one waiting for the family dynamic to twist into something darker… For there to be a hidden, nasty past that would catch up with Val or Julie; for there to be something dire about the children’s origins; for an alien something to come crawling out of the woodwork and capitalise on the Pilot. And I’m delighted to say that nothing like that happened. This book is more intelligently plotted than that.

Instead, it is a real look at a likely scenario that could unfold within our present near-future if an app is invented to increase the brain’s ability to multi-task and focus – and it’s ongoing impact on a specific family over a number of years… And if that sounds a bit dull, or workaday, it isn’t. While this isn’t the book to go to if you want full-on action with lots of explosive battles, the dilemmas created by using the Pilot had me turning the pages waaay into the night to discover how it pans out. And what happens to those who can’t or won’t use the Pilot, once it has been successfully rolled out to most of the population…

I loved both Val and Julie, who are thoughtful, caring parents who want the best for their children and agonise about David’s desperate desire to be able to keep up with his richer classmates. Julie, who works for a high-profile politician, also comes under pressure to acquire a Pilot to keep on top of her boss’s schedule. And then, there’s Val who hates the very idea of having anything so intrusive anywhere near her brain, especially as their daughter, Sophie, will never be able to have one fitted because of her epileptic seizures. We follow their fortunes as the consequences of their difference decisions unspool over a number of years.

The depth of the characterisation, the quality of the narrative arc and the final fallout worked really well for me. In particular, I found David’s plight really poignant – and I would just add a trigger warning for drug abuse and PTSD. I’m aware that I might have made this sound rather drearily worthy. It’s nothing of the sort – there are shafts of humour within the family snark, the prose is punchy and the tight pacing keeps the story rolling forward at a brisk lick. I haven’t encountered this author before – but this certainly won’t be the last time I’ll be reading her work. Highly recommended for both sci fi fans and those who enjoy reading family-centred stories with an unusual dynamic. While I obtained an arc of We Are Satellites from Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
10/10

Tuesday Treasures – 33 #Brainfluffbookblog

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This week on Tuesday Treasures, some of the photos are from our beach walk on Sunday and some from the garden. As I didn’t have the energy to spend much time on a long walk, or an extended ramble around the garden, I didn’t get to take many pics. But the sun was shining and it was lovely to walk on the sands for the first time since February!


Tuesday Treasures – 32 #Brainfluffbookblog

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This week on Tuesday Treasures, the photos are from last week on a lovely sunny morning when I took a wander around the garden with my camera. The garden is in a dreadful state, given that it is busy being overrun by weeds and neither of us has the energy to do anything about it – but at least some of legal plants are also putting their best foot forward, too.


Tuesday Treasures – 31 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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This week on Tuesday Treasures, I’m winding back to the beginning of March, which seems like a very long time ago. We went for a walk along Littlehampton Beach just a few days before we both became ill with Covid 19.

It was a lovely sunny day although there was a wind blowing and the sea was a little rough. I have also taken some views through the bench – apparently it’s the longest bench in the world and it runs the length of the seafront and in a couple of places, the designers have snarled it all up to make it longer. Though it wasn’t the top of the tide, the River Arun was higher than usual because we’d had a lot of rain the previous week. And as you can see, they were still busy dredging the mouth of the river for the large gravel boats that work out of Littlehampton Harbour. Stay safe.

Friday Faceoff – On the right track but on the wrong train… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceofftraincovers

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This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This meme is being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers with images of TRAINS. I’ve selected Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith of The Ladies’ No 1 Detective Agency fame. And in case you haven’t encountered this little gem, I wrote a review of it back in 2014 – see my review of Trains and Lovers.

Pantheon, June 2013

This edition was produced by Pantheon in June 2013, and is the original cover design, so has set the tone for the subsequent covers. I actually like it very much. It’s clever and to the point – we see the train speeding past with a series of ardent couples all engaged in various stages of courtship. I like the contrast of the beige background colour and the grey train, which ought to be boring but somehow is not. I also like the title font, particularly the colouring of it, though I would have preferred that it was just a little more bolded to give a bit of extra heft for when it is in thumbnail.

Polygon, November 2012

Published in November 2012 by Polygon, I think this cover is trying just a tad too hard. Heart-shaped clouds if you must, with the sun peeping out – but flowers bouncing around the train wheels and a fluttering in the air. Really?? Apart from anything else, this is giving the completely wrong idea of the overall tone of this book, which is far more nuanced and ambivalent about the business of falling in love and what happens next. So, while I’ll agree that it is an attractive cover, I don’t like it as I think it tips into sentimentality which I LOATHE.

Anchor, December 2013

This edition, published by Anchor in December 2013 is far more sombre in tone, despite the bright red colouring. The seat facing the track with two single people sitting alone gives a sense of loneliness – and the randomness of encountering someone that you bond sufficiently well that you fall in love. This cover is certainly a contender.

Italian edition, April 2014

This Italian edition, produced by Tre60 in April 2014 is back to the theme of the love train. The punchy blue backdrop and high bridge makes the train with its trail of hearts look small and rather fragile. I also like the treatment of the font, which really grabs the eye and stands out well in thumbnail.

Polygon, August 2017

This edition, published by Polygon in August 2017, is my favourite. I love the station scene and the punchy contrast between that saturated blue, which works well as a backdrop to the title font, and the yellow arches. The station clock and flowers act as a pleasing set for the lovers meeting on the station platform. It’s very simple and pared back, as are all the cover designs for this book, but this is the most visually pleasing and works well for this particular book, I think. Which is your favourite?

Tuesday Treasures – 30 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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Welcome back to my blog! Apologies for the long absence – but you might be aware that on that last Sunday Post, I’d just learnt that the illness we had gone down with was Covid 19 – and both Himself and I went down with it hard. I’m sure it didn’t help that I’d had my vaccination on the previous Saturday…

I don’t ever want to go through another month like March again. Himself missed going into hospital by a whisker, as he had significant breathing difficulties. As for me, I was coping with severe joint pain and life-muffling exhaustion. I just slept, or endured the pain. And no one could come in and help us. It was frightening and miserable. What we did have was a steady stream of concerned enquiries from loving family and my wonderful sister and daughter ensured we didn’t go without any medication or food – not that we ate all that much.

Himself has just started back to work, but I am still recovering. Yesterday I’d planned to start back on my blog, but it was a bad day. I woke up at midday feeling exhausted and by the time I’d showered and dressed – that was it. I’m having to learn to pace myself. So there will still be sudden absences, for which I apologise. But I’ve already learnt the hard way that if I try to push through it, I just end up feeling worse. And most of my mental energy has to go to my writing, which is what keeps my mental health topped up.

Today’s Tuesday Treasures are previous pics I’ve taken of Spring springing, which I’m aware has been going on while I’ve been indoors battling to get well. I’m hoping next week to have had the chance to actually get outside and take some new photos, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these offerings from previous years. Please, stay safe. I’m here to tell you that this is a terrible illness.x

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc The Rose Code by Kate Quinn #BrainfluffNETGALLEYbookreview #TheRoseCodebookreview

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I saw the blurb for this one and decided I needed something a bit different to break up my usual diet of SFF, so requested it. I’m so very glad I was approved for this interesting read…

BLURB: 1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart. 1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter…

I’ve truncated the blurb here, as afterwards I think it gets far too chatty and it’s better if you read the next plot twist in the book.

REVIEW: Three young women, all remarkable in completely differing ways and from entirely different backgrounds, are brought together in the pressure cooker that is Bletchley Park during World War II. I recall the furore caused when news of what went on at Bletchley Park first leaked out for general consumption, back in 1974. Those involved were sworn to absolute secrecy and they abided by it, from the typists and secretarial support through to the code breakers. We are given a ringside seat to the activities of Bletchley through the perspective of three women – Osla, Mab and Beth. For the other remarkable aspect of Bletchley Park is that women were permitted to work alongside men. Admittedly, they didn’t get the same pay – but given that they proved to be every bit as brilliant and dedicated as the men, they very quickly were established within the oddball community that was Bletchley.

This gripping story, much of it based upon the lives of actual people who worked at Bletchley, charts the highs and lows of working in such a pressured environment, where everyone was scaldingly aware that their success in breaking crucial codes affected the course of the war. We get to see how working in conditions of absolute secrecy created extra twists of pressure – men working eighteen-hour shifts under difficult conditions, only to be spat at in the street for not being in uniform, or ostracised by family members for not fighting for King and Country, for instance. Even if they resigned, they were still forbidden to join the Armed Forces, just in case they were captured and gave up information about Bletchley.

Quinn weaves a story of love, loss and heartbreak in amongst the febrile atmosphere of the war, where the friendship between the three young women is smashed apart. I thought the dual timelines worked very well and that the romance between Osla and the dashing Prince Philip was particularly deftly handled – anyone who has seen pictures of him as a young man knows that he was every bit as handsome as Quinn describes him.

The gripping climax of this story made it difficult to put down and I really enjoyed the exciting denouement. I highly recommend that you also read the Appendix where Quinn describes how she wove details of actual people within her story and also provides a potted history of Bletchley House, itself. Highly recommended for fans of historical adventures set during WWII. While I obtained an arc of The Rose Code from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
9/10

Tuesday Treasures – 29 #Brainfluffbookblog #LightintheLockdown

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In this week’s Tuesday Treasures, I’ve more photos of our walk on Sunday along the beach last week. It was dry and the tide was out a long way, so we were right down on the sands which we don’t often do.