Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Catching up - short (probably very short) reviews

I'm on track with my reading so far. That's a first! Anyway, I have three books waiting in the wings so here are three very short and lazy reviews.

Olivier by Philip Ziegler:
Biography of legendary stage and film actor Sir Laurence Olivier.

I liked this a lot I have to say, but it felt like it took forever to read. Not because of the subject matter - Ziegler is a  respectful and readable biographer - but for some reason the book was really heavy, which made it hard to hold up for extended periods.

It covers Olivier's life from go to woe, with a lot of focus on his acting life, rather than the more salacious details of Olivier's private life. Very interesting.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks

I have very, very mixed feelings about this one. The Wodehouse estate chose Faulks to pen a new Jeeves and Wooster novel, but the question is - did the world really need it?

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is light-hearted and full of all of the Wodehouse plot-standards: star-crossed young lovers, country estates, misunderstandings ... but that special light touch and wittiness is somewhat missing.

It's readable enough, but go for the source material. Pip pip.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I loved loved loved The Scorpio Races. I'm still emotionally fragile because of The Scorpio Races and I approached The Raven Boys with a little trepidation.

It was not, however, half as traumatic as The Scorpio Races.

Blue comes from a family of psychics. She's not psychic herself, but she acts like a signal boost. She's always been told that she will cause her true love to die, which is enough to make Blue cautious.

Then she meets Gansey, a Raven boy from the nearby boarding school and Blue's life changes completely as she gets caught up in Gansey's quest to find an ancient Welsh king.

I loved The Raven Boys a lot, and I'm excited to read the rest of the series, but - so far - it's not as earth-shattering as The Scorpio Races was. (I'm sure the pain is coming.)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's Monday

How's your week been? I went back to work last Monday, so that was a bit of a shock to the system.

Reading-wise I'm still ticking over. I finally finished the Olivier biography, which was very interesting, and I battled through Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks.

It was interesting but not, I thought, quite up to the Wodehouse standard.

This week I'm indulging in a bit of Star Trek and reading The Sorrow of Empire - a novel of the Mirror universe by David Mack, and I started Billy Crystal's book, Still Fooling 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going and Where the Hell Are My Keys?

What are you reading?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's Monday ...

Meme hosted here:

I went back to work today, so that's going to cut into my reading/lazing time significantly.

I had to take The Dream Thieves back to the library - someone else had it on hold and I hadn't finished it so on the Don't Be a Dick principle, I took it back. *sigh* I'll get it out again and finish it as soon as I can.

Otherwise, I'm nearly through Olivier by Philip Ziegler, and I'm still picking at The Two Towers.

I also picked up Jeeves and the Wedding Guest by Sebastian Faulks. I'm not very far into it but so far it does lack that Wodehouse something. Its readable enough and it's a short novel so I'll see how I go.

What are you reading?

Friday, February 14, 2014

A thing

I came across this post on tumblr from Joe Hill the other day:

and it started me musing.

I spend a lot of time online. And by "online" I mean on social media - mostly twitter. And generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with that. I love twitter. I love talking to people about the things that I love, and I love seeing what they're up to.

But. It's a trap. Here be dragons, etc.

Because, for me, twitter is something that can feel productive when it's not.

Discussions are great, and even silly chats with friends on twitter are great. But I catch myself scrolling through my feeds (I have two - my normal everyday justaddbooks one, and a fandom one where I am one hundred per cent more annoying) just ... to scroll through my feeds.

It's the least productive thing there is but I can look around on a Saturday afternoon and realise that I've spent hours doing just that. And well.

That brings me to Mr Joe Hill and his exercise in self-discipline.

I've been on holiday for the past four weeks or so, which means that my time has largely been my own.

However, going back to work on Monday has made me realise it wouldn't be a bad idea to set some parameters of my own.

So this is what I've come up with.

Outside of work, and taking care of Patrick, and of Very Important TV Watching, and Very Important Film Watching, I have three things that I really enjoy doing, but that I never seem to have the "time" for, which is, of course, a filthy lie. If I can find time to mainline all of the first season of Orphan Black, play endless games of plants v zombies and scroll mindlessly through tumblr, then I certainly have time to, you know, pick up a book once in a while.

I digress.

The Three Things are reading, writing and cross stitch. And I tell myself that I don't have enough time, but as I said, I do. I can cross stitch while I marvel at Tatiana Maslaney's ability to imbue seven different characters with distinctly individual personalities. I can switch everything off for half an hour and commit to 500 words. I can easily (I hope) power down and read 50 pages.

At least, for now, that's the plan. I've kept my own goals super-modest, because I do still have a 9-5 job, and I still have real-life responsibilities (and I still want to hang out on twitter, and play plants v zombies and busily reblog pictures on tumblr) but in an ordinary day I can do this:

Write 500 words
Read 50 pages
Stitch for 30 minutes.

Modest? Yes. Achievable? I'm doing my best, and most days, I'm getting there. And if I miss a day - well, there's always the next day, isn't there? And of course, sometimes real life likes to throw you a curve ball in the shape of a six year old with a stomach bug, but these things - while unpleasant - pass.

And I've noticed, when I do manage to achieve all three of my very modest goals in a day, I feel better in myself, and my brain feels  a bit less fuzzed by useless information and a little bit more perky and able to process the world around me.

Balance. It's a work in progress.

Monday, February 10, 2014

What are you reading ....

Meme hosted here:

Well, it's Tuesday morning actually because I live in the future. :D

I'm on holiday for another week, so I'm doing my very best to do very little. I finished A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, and also The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater.

Very different reads, but both very good.

I'm doing a very leisurely re-read of The Lord of the Rings, and settled in yesterday for a good chunk of The Two Towers.

Today, I'm going to dig into The Dream Thieves, the sequel to The Raven Boys, because it's due back at the library in a couple of days.

I still haven't had the courage to pick up The Lumineers - lol.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson - review

Contrary to the title, this is actually a novel. And the second book in my TBR Challenge.

I read Confessing a Murder by Nicholas Drayson a  few years ago, and it was an odd, quirky but memorable novel

Guide is much the same.

Every Tuesday, Mr Malik takes part in a weekly bird walk, sponsored by the East African Ornithological Society. He's in love with the woman who leads the walks, which leads Mr Malik - an honourable, quiet man - into a very strange competition.

Guide reminds me a little bit of The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in its quirks and charms, which Drayson balances nicely with very human details and shading.

There are also hints of P G Wodehouse in the competition at Mr Malik's club, which is reminiscent of Wodehouse's golf stories.

It's a short novel, but it's definitely a charmer.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's Monday

Your meme is hosted here:

I've had a remarkably productive few days. I finished Wake by Elizabeth Knox, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and a previously unpublished novella, The Mijo Tree by Janet Frame.

Long may it continue. :D

I'm still poking at the Olivier biography which is interesting but slow-going. Partly, I think, because the book is really heavy. I don't know if it's the way it's been bound, or what, but it's hard to hold up for long periods of time.

I've also started February's TBR challenge book, which is A Guide to the Birds of East Africa, by Nicholas Drayson. It's a novel, rather than an ornithological guide and so far so good. I read Confessing a Murder by Drayson a few years ago and really enjoyed it so I'm glad I've finally got around to picking this one up.

The Luminaries is still on my to-read radar, I just haven't had the courage to actually pick it up yet.

Also on the horizon are The Raven Boys and the Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater.

What are you reading?