Tag Archives: personal weekly roundup

Sunday Post – 6th November 2016



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

bristolcon2016It’s been another hectic week. At the start of the week, I was still recovering from the awesome Bristolcon 2016. Mhairi and I travelled up on the train and once more were enveloped in the warmth of The Friendly Con. It was great to catch up with regulars, though there were far too many people I only got to exchange quick greetings with – the likes of Justin Newland, Sophie E. Tallis, Sammy Smith and Jo Hall. I’m sure there are others I’ve missed out, and apologies for the omission. I had the huge pleasure of meeting Rosie Oliver, who I regularly chat with on my blog. She was one of the participants in the excellent ‘Uncanny Valleys of the Mind’ panel about the possibility of sentient robots. The quality of this discussion was superb with moderator Pete Sutton, Rosie, Kevlin Henney, Claire Carter and guest of honour Ken MacLeod.

Other enjoyable panels included ‘SF & F on the Margins’, which discussed the joys of the small presses, bristolcon1who are providing an increasingly vital role during this time when the larger traditional publishers are finding it tough. ‘The Regiment of Monsters’ panel investigated the contention that too much fantasy lacks diversity and is still stuck in the ‘boys own’ adventures for and about white males. While the panel agreed there was still a preponderance of such fantasy around, there are increasing examples of alternatives to the staple of the plucky group battling overwhelming evil in a quasi-medieval setting. And there was also the delightfully whacky ‘Storming the Castle’ panel moderated by John Baverstock with tyrants (panellists) Ade Couper, Mhairi Simpson, Jacey Bedford and Dom Dulley sporting enough to provide daft ways in which to defend their castles from members of the audience on a dice throw… After that we had no option but to retreat to the bar, where I had one of the best evenings ever. Meeting another blogging friend, Leona was a delight, along with authors Mark Lawrence, R.B. Watkinson, T.O. Munro and G.R. Matthews and the awesome Kitvaria Sarene and Marielle (thank you for those yummy Dutch cookies, which had me falling off the sugar-free wagon – but I can’t be good ALL the time). By the time Mhairi and I staggered back to our hotel room around 2 am, my sides were aching with so much laughing. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to a fabulous time – I’m grinning as I type at the memory…

Coming back to earth has been something of an effort, though I haven’t had too much time to sit around twiddling my fingers as I was back to teaching again on Monday and Tuesday and on Wednesday Mhairi and I got together for a writing day. On Thursday I was in London for a training day for the CoPE syllabus that Tim is starting to work towards with Sally. We’re now both excited and relieved that we finally have a clear path whereby his exceptional abilities can be formally recognised with qualifications that will help him become an independent adult with a fulfilling career. This week-end I’m grannying.

This week I have read:
Frontier – an Epsilon Sector novella by Janet Edwards
Life on a frontier farming planet in the twenty-eighth century has a few complications. The imported frontierEarth animals and plants don’t always interact well with the local ecology, and there’s a shortage of doctors and teachers. The biggest problem though is the fact there are always more male than female colonists arriving from other worlds. Single men outnumber single women by ten to one, and girls are expected to marry at seventeen. Amalie turned seventeen six months ago, and she’s had nineteen perfectly respectable offers of marriage. Everyone is pressuring her to choose a husband, or possibly two of them. When Amalie’s given an unexpected chance of a totally different future, she’s tempted to take it, but then she gets her twentieth offer of marriage and it’s one she can’t possibly refuse.

This is a characteristically engrossing read, full of Edwards’ bouncy prose that pulled me into the story which I read in one greedy gulp and surfaced feeling very happy… They ought to bottle her writing and make it available on the NHS.

Songs of Seraphina by Jude Houghton
songsofseraphineSome battles bleed so much, and for so long, that the earth never truly forgets their dead. Some battles are born of oppression, and some of greed, and some simply because it was written in the stars. Three sisters—Charlemagne, Cairo and Pendragon Agonistes—are sent from America to England to live with their eccentric grandparents after their mother disappears and their father falls to pieces. But before the girls have time to find their feet, Charlemagne is married off to a dead man, Penny takes a nap and wakes up as a boy, and Cairo is swept into a dangerous romance with a man who wants her for more than her considerable charm. With the girls wrapped up in a conflict they barely understand, they don’t notice that their grandmother is transforming, or that the two demigod assassins who took their mother are now coming for them—if one of them can get over his crisis of conscience.

I realised Jude Houghton was One to Watch when I read his stormingly good science fiction novel Autonomy earlier this year – but this amazing take on epic fantasy has very much confirmed his wonderful talent. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel – or I might stamp my feet and DEMAND one.

The Hanging Tree – Book 6 of The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch
The Hanging Tree was the Tyburn gallows which stood where Marble Arch stands today. Oxford Street thehangingtreewas the last trip of the condemned. Some things don’t change. The place has a bloody and haunted legacy and now blood has returned to the empty Mayfair mansions of the world’s super-rich. And blood mixed with magic is a job for Peter Grant, who is back as are Nightingale et al. at the Folly and the various river gods, ghosts and spirits who attach themselves to England’s last wizard and the Met’s reluctant investigator of all things supernatural.

This sparky, London-based urban fantasy has always had a special place in my heart since I read the first one – and like the rest of his fans, I’ve been waiting very patiently for this book.

My posts last week:
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Imlen Brat by Sarah Avery

Teaser Tuesday – featuring Songs of Seraphina by Jude Houghton

Waiting on Wednesday – featuring The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb

Friday Faceoff – Nomad is a wanderer… featuring The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – October roundup

Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:
#SPFBO Final Round https://lynns-books.com/2016/11/05/spfbo-final-round/ For those of you who don’t know the acronym stands for Self Published Fantasy Blog Off, which is organised by best-selling author Mark Lawrence, where a group of stalwart book bloggers volunteer to take a stack of self published fantasy novels – this year it was 30 each – and whittle it down to a single entry to be forwarded to this final list.

All My Halloweens http://melfka.com/archives/1994 A delightful article by Joanna Maciejewska on her recollections of Halloween celebrations throughout her life so far – and given she’s something of a traveller, it also takes us to a number of different countries…

The This Is My Genre Tell Me Yours Book Tag https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/the-this-is-my-genre-tell-me-yours-book-tag/ Many thanks to Drew for including me in this particular tag. I’m really looking forward to having a go – but as he threw it open to everyone who likes reading, I thought I’d let others have the pleasure of taking part, too.

9 Tips for Novice Spelunkers and Cave Exploration https://roamwildandfree.com/2016/11/01/9-tips-for-novice-spelunkers-and-cave-exploration/ And this, people, is one of the reasons I love the blogging community so much. I can sit at my computer and learn about places and situations I’ll never encounter from the wonderful people who do.

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.

Sunday Post – 16th October



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

Again, this has been a far less frenetic week. I finally completed the line edit on Netted and sent it off. 100_5156Yay! Fingers crossed that it meets with approval… Fitstep and pilates classes are going very well – I’m 100_5166delighted to find I continue to be able to do exercises which a year ago, I couldn’t get near. Himself and I went for a lovely walk last Sunday and were inspired to repeat this during the week, while still enjoying the amazing weather. These pics were taken last Tuesday morning during a wonderful walk along the beach.

On Thursday, Mhairi came over again and spent the day. During the evening we attended the West Sussex Writers monthly talk, given this time around by the awesome Ben Galley who came to tell us all bengalleyabout self-publishing. He took us for a brisk gallop through how to get hold of effective editors, demystified the process of buying and using ISBNs, gave top tips on how to get the best out of a cover artist – along with a slew of facts and figures on the advantages of going the indie route. As he has successfully published two fiction series, a how-to book, a graphic novel and four children’s books, as well as running a consultancy on self publishing, he was very well placed to answer all the questions asked about the subject. It was one of the most informative talks we’ve ever had at West Sussex Writers. To round it off, Caron Garrod – one of my students – read out her winning entry in the WSW Novel Opening Competition judged by Jane Lythell. It was a marvellous evening.

This week-end I’m grannying again as the children are once more with us – it great to be able to see them on a regular basis, so we get a chance to catch up on how they are getting on at school. As well as keeping tabs on their latest hobbies and enthusiasms – it all seems to change so much at their age…

This week I have read:
Counterpart – Book 2 of the Machinations series by Hayley Stone
Commander Rhona Long understands survival better than most. Killed in combat, she was brought backcounterpart to life using her DNA, and she’s forged a new, even more powerful identity. Now the leader of the resistance, she’s determined to ensure the machines are shut down for good. But victory is elusive. The machines have a new technology designed to overcome humanity’s most advanced weaponry. Despite Rhona’s peacekeeping efforts, former nations are feuding over resources as old power struggles resurface. Worse, someone inside the resistance is sabotaging the human cause—someone who, from all appearances, seems to be Rhona . . . or her exact replica.
This gripping apocalyptic adventure has produced the most interesting, nuanced examination of what it means to be a clone that I’ve read in a long, long time.


Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden
knightsoftheborroweddarkDenizen Hardwick is an orphan, and his life is, well, normal. Sure, in storybooks orphans are rescued from drudgery when they discover they are a wizard or a warrior or a prophesied king. But this is real life—orphans are just kids without parents. At least that’s what Denizen thought. . . On a particularly dark night, the gates of Crosscaper Orphanage open to a car that almost growls with power. And on the journey Denizen discovers there are things out there that by rights should only exist in storybooks – except they’re all too real.
I really enjoyed this gripping children’s book, where the knights are skilled in magic and sword fighting, but traumatised and battle-weary and thirteen-year-old Denizen is suitably chippy. And we are never allowed to forget that violence and revenge exact a very high price…


So Many Boots So Little Time – Book 3 of The MidAdventures of Miss Lilly by Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Small-town lawyer Lilly Atkins has calmed down. She’s doing yoga, her hair is relatively tame, and she somanybootshasn’t shot anyone in a while. But with bad boy Cash Stetson out of rehab, former FBI agent-turned-attorney Spencer Locke dogging her steps, and a ghost from her past who just won’t go away, her trigger finger is starting to itch.
This offering is a real change of pace and genre for me – something I felt I needed. The emphasis on clothes and looks was slightly exasperating and I hadn’t appreciated just how much of the plot was devoted to Lilly’s love life. That said, it was a charming, light-hearted read that put a smile on my face.


Penric’s Demon – a World of the Five Gods novella by Lois McMaster Bujold
penricsdemonOn his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is The Bastard, “master of all disasters out of season”, and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric’s life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him.
I’m a massive fan of this author’s writing – and this is a treat. I loved this one – classic Bujold. And the best news of all – there’s another novella in this series which is on my TBR list waiting for me to get to it…


My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 9th October

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – September Roundup

Teaser Tuesday – featuring So Many Boots, So Little Time by Kalan Chapman Lloyd

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Counterpart – Book 2 of the Machinations series by Hayley Stone

Favourite Time Travelling Novels – Part 1

Friday Faceoff – There was once a princess who lived in the highest tower… featuring Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Review of Knights of the Borrowed Dark by Dave Rudden

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

Five Interesting Facts about Samuel Pepys https://interestingliterature.com/2016/10/14/five-fascinating-facts-about-samuel-pepys/ Those marvellous folks at Interesting Literature came up with yet another fascinating article.

Reading in Bed https://randombookmuses.com/2016/10/14/musing-reading-in-bed/
An ongoing problem in my life…

Writers, Please Eat a Snickers and Chill the Hell OUT – Sincerely Writers https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/writers-please-eat-a-snickers-and-chill-the-hell-out-sincerely-readers/ Kristen Lamb calls time on the unpleasant, ranting behaviour on social media

Keeping Children Safe With Technology – https://wandaluthman.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/keeping-children-safe-with-technology/ Wanda Luthman warns of a new, worrying development that can cause havoc in the wrong hands – Burn Note

Many thanks for visiting and taking the time and trouble to comment – and may you have a wonderful reading and blogging week.