A glance at my bookshelves (1)

(Top to bottom – New Spring by Robert Jordan, Die Again by Tess Gerritsen, The Rule by Jack Colman, The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason and The Magus by John Fowles)

We’ve had a little nosy around Casa Katy, and now here for a closer look at the contents of my shelves.

When I was preparing to move out of Windy Farm, my parents’ house (and, I suppose, my “ancestral pile”, given we have lived there for a couple of years now, and before that, my great uncle lived there, and before him, my great grandparents), I realised how many books I have. Well, it wasn’t much of a realisation – I think that had dawned a good long while ago – but it really cemented just how bad my book-hoarding had become. And, most heartbreakingly of all, how few of my weighty tomes I had actually read! I took a systematic approach – or as much as I could, anyway – to my library, and split into piles: those I had read and those I had not. Easy-peasy. I classify, of course, those I have begun as not-reads.

But then came the tricky part. I was going through a phase of mad well-intentioned badly-executed organisation, which meant some books that had been read really should be taken to the second-hand bookshop (the one in Pickering, you know the one! Surely the best example of how a second-hand bookshop really should look) to be enjoyed by others. I had had a bad experience when I took three great Bags-for-Life full of books and got about seven quid in return, but I swallowed my tongue and reminded myself that this is for the greater good: other people can enjoy these books, meet new characters and explore new worlds. Besides, I probably got more per book than the average author gets. So I divvied the read books into: to keep forever and ever or at least a little while longer, in the hope I might re-read (here’s looking at you, Wheel of Time, Robin Hobb, etc.) and to put in a box for a little while and eventually send on a journey to somebody else’s bookshelves.

So I now stand in Casa Katy with a bookshelf (thank the Lord for Ikea) full of juicy tomes (not tomatoes) ripe and ready to be bitten into!

So here is a little glimpse of this Spring/Summer reading list:

A glimpse at my spring/summer reads
A glimpse at my spring/summer reads

Now some of these I have actually already finished. Go me!

In order:

New Spring by Robert Jordan – I finished the Wheel of Time last year, Jordan’s epic fantasy which he sadly passed away before seeing completion, that falling upon the shoulders of Brandon Sanderson, who also wrote one of my favourite books ever, The Final Empire (part of the Mistborn series). New Spring is the prequel that was published in between (books x and y) and details how Moiraine and Lan meet, and how she sets out following the prophecy that the Dragon will ride on the Wheel of Time once again. I really enjoyed the Wheel of Time – it was my second go at reading it, having managed in a previous attempt to get halfway through I think Lord of Chaos before losing myself. With such a lengthy series – fourteen books, come on! – and such a huge landscape to consider, with seemingly limitless characters, machinations, plots, locations and everything else, if you take your eye off the ball for even a second it’s hard to get back in. I’m super excited to read this prequel though, as Moiraine and Lan are some of my favourite characters in the series, and it’s so refreshing to see a female/male partnership that doesn’t end up in a romantic tangle.

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen – this is one of the Rizzoli and Isles books, on which the popular (and now fast approaching the end of its run!) TV series is based. I started off my dad on reading Rizzles; we loved the TV show and the partnership of no-nonsense kick-ass Boston police officer Jane Rizzoli and the Sherlock-esque Chief Medical Examiner Dr Maura Isles. In fact, I loved the characters so much I named my cat after Maura! I’ve not read any of the series but am familiar with various plots (e.g. Hoyt) from the TV programme, but Dad chucked this one at me saying I would like it because a) it doesn’t rely on too much previous information and b) Maura gets a cat in it! So I might give this a go and see how we get on.

The Rule by Jack Colman – I went to Ryedale Book Festival a while ago with Mum, just to scope out the scene and also to try and chat to a couple of local presses. I happened to speak to a very lovely lady who was there on behalf of her son, who had published his first book, The Rule, after winning a competition. All about Vikings, it was dead up my street, but I was also intrigued by this local lad who had gone and done what I spend most of my waking moments dreaming about. I bought his book and finished it earlier this year. Vikings and Anglo-Saxons seem to be all the rage now: whether it’s the Game of Thrones/Lord of the Rings effect, or possibly a desire to look back at the people who played a part in forming our country(ies) and, shock horror, were a lot of them immigrants. But I don’t want to get too political! I enjoyed The Rule – the landscape was sparse and barren, really evoking just why the Vikings (and here the Anglo-Saxon once-upon-a-time scholar in me shudders to use the generic – and incorrect – term) found our island just so irresistible and, dare I say, ripe for the picking. I did find the description on the back very misleading, and as such I was guilty of that classic crime, judging a book by its cover, and found the content and the blurb a bit jarring. I struggled to connect with the lead character, Gunnarr, though I can’t fault his motives, and found the ending particularly heartbreaking.

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell – from the raiders in the far distant north to raiders raiding our north! For all I want to call him Bernard Cromwell, I’ve been hankering after his books for a while, and so after enjoying the first couple of episodes of The Last Kingdom on TV (and then missing one and subsequently never catching the rest), I got the book for Christmas. Cornwell is an accomplished writer with a longlist as long as, well, a longship, and so here we follow Uhtred son of Uhtred, the Anglo-Saxon ealdorman raised by the Danes. Personally I was just chuffed that I could recall a lot from my old university days! I enjoyed this romp, though it did curious things with the pacing – something I find a little unsettling with George R R Martin. Here great events and shifts for the characters seem to be thrust upon the reader without much warning, and without much change in pace – none of your standard lulls which build up to a great crescendo, and while maybe it is intended to be indicative of the fast-moving ever-changing world of that time, it did cause me a few hiccups. I might read the next one, or I might catch up with the TV series, but it didn’t grab me with an all-consuming fervour to devour the next one.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – please excuse the lack of correct accent marks, I’m being especially lazy. I’ve had this on my bookshelves since forever and have tried it once before, only to be a bit baffled by the content and all the men with very similar names. One sunny afternoon I sat out in my patio and gave it another go, and now I’m powering through the first quarter, and think I might well make it to the end. I’m still bamboozled by all the Jose Antonio Buendia Aureliano Arcadios, but I think I can about tell them apart. This is a curious little book – I say little fondly, for it’s a monster of a story. Very famous and I think massively influential on many other writers, it combines magic realism and fantasy and warfare and family drama all together with some wonderful humour and wit on the part of Garcia Marquez. It definitely reads wonderfully well in a warm dreamy summer’s eve, of which we have very little of over here at Casa Katy (it’s raining as we speak). It’s also reading much better than another I’m on with, not on this list, and that’s the Master and Marguerita. I’m excited to see where this goes, however just as I get invested in a character’s development or a possible partnership or what have you, Garcia Marquez tends to off them or that plot point in increasingly mad ways. Jose Buendia being strapped beneath the old chestnut tree is a strong image I think that will haunt me for a good while, and I’m sure is something many might like to relate to, in these post-referendum times. Argh, I said I wouldn’t get political!

The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason and The Magus by John Fowles – now these two are not yet begun, and I intend to dive into once I’ve wrangled a bit of time. I picked up The Piano Tuner in Waterstones on a whim and haven’t a clue what to expect. John Fowles is known to me as a writer, as I read The French Lieutenant’s Woman when I was 16/17 and it powerfully imprinted on me. I would absolutely recommend that to anyone looking for a fantastic read who isn’t afraid of a bit of period setting, and a bit of critique on a period novel within a novel – jolly bit of inception there. I’m excited about The Magus so if I ever get on with the Jose Antonio Aureliano Arcadios, I will dive into this one.

And that’s our lot! Let me know if you’ve read any of these, if you like them, dislike them, and if you’ve any recommendations! Currently I am poor but I am the proud owner of a Malton Library card, so with luck, I might pick up some weighty tomes in there.

I’m also looking to update my Goodreads account, so look for me on there under Katy Allanby.

Thanks for reading!

 

Advertisements

26/10/15 – Retrospective

This is a bit of a late retrospective! It’s been a busy couple of weeks… in that all I’ve done is watch Grimm and Supernatural. Things might be changing a bit soon, but shhh, more on that later!

Listening to

I’ve become a late convert to Spotify: since I’ve been on a slight frugal curve, I’ve put a stop to the worst of my spending, basically my Amazon account. As such, a few albums I’ve not purchased, but have instead streamed off Spotify. One of these was Lana Del Rey’s latest, Honeymoon. I loved Lana Del Rey since I heard the haunting Video Games, which arguably is her best, and somewhat different to all of her other work. I remember reading an interview after Born To Die when she said she wasn’t going to release any more material, as there was nothing left to say; considering there have been two LPs and the Paradise Edition EP since then, I think it’s fair to say she dug a bit deeper. Honeymoon is definitely on the more Ultraviolence themed side of things, musically at least: a lot slower and gentler, somewhat less on the wild vocal lines as Born To Die, but consistently Lana Del Rey in lyrical content. To be honest, I think Honeymoon is much more solid than Ultraviolence: the second half I essentially bypassed, as it all essentially sounded the same, about bad men doing bad things to the starlet persona, with jarring key changes and choruses. There aren’t many bum notes at all with Honeymoon: from High By The Beach to 24 there isn’t a skippable song. Definitely music to get drunk to in a hot dry summer, sumptuous and self-indulgent, but who doesn’t love a good bit of that every now and then?

Watching

I have finished series 3 of Grimm on Netflix and in anticipation of series 5 premiering on Watch soon, I downloaded series 4 off Amazon. Totally binged on it! I’m only a couple of episodes from the end, but poor Nick is having a right time of it. Adalind is seriously getting on my nerves – I’m not necessarily sure that the correct response for someone taking your baby is to disguise yourself as that person’s girlfriend and have sex with them. I know, I know, it was Prince-Not-Eric’s idea, but still, it’s got Adalind up on this high horse and considering she is of no fixed abode, with no reliable income (and, let’s be honest, is everybody really sure that that baby is Renard’s? Paternity test! Paternity test!), and with a track record of rash and questionable decisions, she’s hardly mother of the year material. Renard had it right when he said to her “I so wish I could believe you” (hint about the baby’s paternity??) yet it appears Nick, our puffy-eyed Grimm of woe-is-me, is quite happy to follow Adalind’s breadcrumb trail of deus-ex-machina. It’s nice to see Juliette coming into her own: as a strong character she was getting a bit underutilised as Nick’s piece, though I still want her and Renard to get together: now they would be a powerhouse couple!

Grimm series 5 is on Watch on Tuesdays at 9.

Now, I may very much be late on the bandwagon here, but I’m totally into Supernatural. I’ve been hitting our local CEX and tracking down the early series (is the plural of series serieses?). I stormed through Series 1 and loved it. It is quite scary! I thought it would be more like Buffy, but a lot of it is based on ghost stories – a lot of which are the kind that are represented in every society around – and those are the kinds that in the light of day you can scoff at, but when it’s dark and cold and you’re not sure what that weird tapping noise is outside the window or in the corner of the room, they seem a wee bit more real. I just finished Series 2 and loved it! The chemistry between the two leads is great and there are some fab comedic moments as well as some truly chilling scares. This long-running show will definitely keep me going, especially when I’ve nosied ahead (you can’t help it, SPN fandom is all over Pinterest) and seen demons and angels and what even is Destiel?!

Reading

I’ve finished book thirteen! Bard the Bowman and I now embark on the last one… I am a little apprehensive to tackle A Memory Of Light: the biggie, the Last Battle. Often books that build up to an armageddon conclusion wimp out on the last couple of hurdles. I really hope this isn’t the case! I’m thinking of running a live Twitter feed as I progress through. I’m fairly sure Rand must triumph over the Dark One (does he have a name? You hear Dark One, you think Rumpelstiltskin) but getting there looks like a gargantuan task. This series has some of my favourite female characters in it: Nynaeve, Moiraine and Egwene. I’m pleased that Egwene has solidified her perch as the Amyrlin Seat. I’m also dead chuffed that we found Moiraine, after an age of a hiatus (Moiraine and Thom?!), but I’m sorry, who didn’t see Mazrim Taim coming a mile off? If you like more of this sort of drivel, please follow me on Twitter! I’ll think of a clever hashtag.


Making

While Ma and Pa were in Poland visiting Auschwitz, I had a nice long weekend with my doggy. I attempted another Pinterest recipe (somewhat hesitantly, after the too-simple turkey and sweet potato burgers didn’t quite come off) and made some brownies topped with peanut butter. I have learnt to follow your instinct – this is something that is never new to me, yet I need to be reminded of it constantly. The recipe told me to microwave the chocolate for the spread, but I was tempted to melt it my way in a bowl over simmering water. I wish I had followed my own advice! The result is scruffy but they taste amazing – sickly indeed. I will be such a little fatty after scoffing the lot.

For the past few weeks I’ve turned my hand to cross-stitch, which seems to be the revitalised WI craft of choice at the moment. I got a little one from Hobbycraft to start me off, and I’m pretty pleased with my progress! Since the picture below I have actually progressed a wee bit more, and all the flowers are done and the grass is complete!