Monthly Roundup – November 2022

november

November has been somewhat frustrating as both husband and I have been suffering the lingering effects of a winter lurgy (no, not that one) that has sapped our energy. We had our final trip away of the year booked and paid for yet seriously considered whether we should go, if were up to the walking this would entail. I mean, what else does one do in the depths of Dartmoor? In the end we opted to travel and try to enjoy the fabulous location as best we could. For anyone interested, I reviewed the hotel we stayed in here and wrote of my teddy bear, Edward’s adventures here. We managed some lovely if shorter than usual walks – including in temperate rainforest (which I had been reading about, see below) – and the food was excellent.

Back home there were then periods of rest as we tried to recuperate. We continued to take part in Parkrun each week, with me running slowly and husband volunteering. By the end of the month I was going out during the week to pound our local tracks and lanes again, although at a glacial pace. We also returned to the gym for some lifting. Despite keeping things light – close to my normal warmup weights – muscles had obviously enjoyed their rest and complained about the return to working out. We persevere.

Student son has been affected by the university lecturer strikes and by some teaching moving online again. I do wonder what he is paying so much for. To be clear, I understand why the strikes are happening, but turning universities into businesses has had so many negative repercussions. It is hard to watch as a young person tries to learn in what is now a far from ideal environment. I am glad he still has his hockey and part-time job to get him out of the house on these dark days.

My other children keep themselves busy as ever, balancing jobs with attempts at a social life. Husband and I pulled out of plans to attend a friend’s birthday party due to our health issues, something I was quite relieved about but, being more sociable, he may have regretted. I have agreed to attend a Christmas work do with him and just hope I remember how to talk to people face to face.

I posted reviews for 10 books in November. Robyn had too much going on to write anything for the blog but hopes to contribute next month when she moves to a more predictable rotation.

As is customary in my monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

Where I End  peckham experiment
Where I End by Sophie White, published by Tramp Press
The Peckham Experiment by Guy Ware, published by Salt

Sandstone City  malarkoi
The Sandstone City by Elaine Canning, published by Alderyn Press
Malarkoi by Alex Pheby, published by Galley Beggar

disobedient womenDisobedient Women by Sangeeta Mulay, published by Fly on the Wall Press

Translated Fiction

Dislocations  Ruth
Dislocations by Sylvia Molloy (translated by Jennifer Croft), published by Charco Press
Ruth by Guillem Viladot (translated by P. Louise Johnson), published by Fum d’Estampa

Short Stories

Lunate vol 1
Lunate vol. 1, published by Lunate Journal

Non Fiction

Phobias and Manias  lost rainforests
The Book of Phobias and Manias by Kate Summerscale, published by Profile
The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole, published by William Collins

Sourcing the books

Robyn continues to order the special editions of books she one day hopes to read.

Robyn books november 22 spines  Robyn books november 22

I received a handful of titles to add to my review pile, some of which didn’t linger there.

Books received Jackie november

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms – your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

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Monthly Roundup – October 2022

october

Happy Halloween to those who celebrate! I enjoy spooky season and have managed to read a few books this month that fit with the theme. Although we have, thus far, avoided turning the central heating on (aren’t outside temperatures high for late October?), thermal base layers and woolly jumpers have become a wardrobe staple. The duvets I keep on the sofas proved their worth when I settled down to read during the short lived cold snap. There is something particularly restorative about wrapping up and then curling up with a good book and a warming beverage.

Last month I wrote about the road trip husband and I took to visit friends and family in Ireland. As promised you may read my teddy bear’s account of this adventure in Edward Explores Belfast.

This month we took a shorter trip away, spending a mostly sunny weekend in beautiful North Devon. This inspired several posts:

At home I have taken to baking bread weekly – such a comforting food and a treat as we no longer buy loaves. We have also been harvesting the apples grown at the bottom of our garden. Many crumbles and cakes have been enjoyed by us and the neighbours I share this bounty with.

Parkruns have been attended at home and away, although husband has a damaged hamstring so was mostly volunteering rather than running. The second field used by our local course has returned to its winter mud due to heavy rain – timings have become less important than staying upright for the duration. Of course, Parkrun welcomes walkers as well as runners, something they have been promoting throughout October. I decided to join this initiative on Saturday just past, enabling me to view the event from a new perspective. I didn’t feel the same sense of accomplishment on finishing that a run provides but it was still good to be amongst the welcoming community.

Despite the somewhat eclectic subjects I write about, this does remain primarily a book blog. I posted reviews for 7 books in October. Robyn added her review for the epic story that is Babel.

As is customary in my monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

Don't Look At Me  bone flower
Don’t Look At Me by Charles Holdefer, published by Sagging Meniscus
The Bone Flower by Charles Lambert, published by Gallic

Short Stories and Poetry

spooky ambiguous  Eastmouth
Spooky Ambiguous, published by Crumps Barn Studio
Eastmouth and Other Stories by Alison Moore, published by Salt

the bygones
The Bygones by Jim Gibson, published by Tangerine Press

Non Fiction

brother do you love me  my mind to me
brother. do. you. love. me. by Manni Coe and Reuben Coe, published by Little Toller
My Mind To Me A Kingdom Is by Paul Stanbridge, published by Galley Beggar

Robyn Reviews

babel
Babel by R.F. Kuang, published by HarperVoyager

Sourcing the Books

Robyn added these fine titles to her extensive collection of special editions.

books received october robyn

My book post provided me with some enticing reading to look forward to – a couple of these I picked up straight away.

books received october jackie

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms – your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – September 2022

september

September has been noteworthy in a number of ways. At a national level there were deaths – the Queen and Hilary Mantel to name two. Closer to home, husband and I made our long delayed trip to Ireland to collect some personal effects put aside for me and my children from my late parents’ house clearance. This proved a worthwhile distraction from the media’s sycophantic mourning for a woman I admired less than the fine author we lost too early.

The Ireland trip was always going to be an emotional journey. I last travelled to the isle in early 2020 for my mother’s 92nd birthday. We had therefore decided to make it rather more epic a holiday than usual. The need to bring a car across the Irish Sea to enable transport of inherited items inspired us to book a cabin on an overnight ferry – the closest we would ever wish to come to a cruise. The boat sailed from Liverpool, a city we had never visited. We therefore booked a couple of nights in a hotel there. Although interesting, the place did not require the amount of time allocated. We were glad to take part in the Birkenhead Parkrun. A morning in Chester also helped while away some time. My teddy bear, Edward, accompanied us. You may read of his Explores in Liverpool and its surrounds here.

The Belfast leg of the trip was filled with nostalgia. We revisited several of the towns and villages located on the northern coast of the Ards Peninsula that my parents had loved and regularly took me as a child (I rarely appreciated them then). We caught up with friends and family, who made us welcome in their homes as well as joining us for dinners in fine, local eateries. Husband and I climbed Divis and Black Mountain – a first for me as they are located west of the city in an area I would have feared travelling through when I lived in troubled Belfast. The spectacular views from the ridges warmed my heart for a place I often think of negatively.

The hotel we stayed in prides itself on its comforts and grandeur. Located on the coast at Cultra – a wealthy enclave below which runs a coastal path I walked often as a teenager – I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the area. You may read my review of the hotel and spa here. Edward’s Explore of Belfast will be posted next week.

We returned home via Scotland, with an overnight stop in Dumfries to enable us to take part in their Parkrun. Good memories were made on this lengthy trip and I am grateful to those who helped make it special.

The rest of the month also had highlights. Husband bought me a fine, new bicycle that I took out on a couple of longer rides. As well as Parkruns, I started attending a new, local running club – a rare and brave sociable endeavour for me. The group is made up of new runners, or those returning to the activity after a break of many years. For the first time ever I was regarded as fast! Husband laughed when I told him this. Such opinion will undoubtedly change as the others build on their endurance and stamina, but I’ll take my brief moment while it lasts.

My little family have also faced changes this month. Elder son started a new job that requires him to work on site rather than from home, prompting him to buy his first car. Younger son returned to university. Both can still live at home and commute so we remain a unit of five, for which I am grateful. They may create a mountain of dishes and laundry for me to deal with but I value the daily updates that they are doing okay given all going on in the wider world.

I posted reviews for 7 books in September. Robyn once again took over the blog while I was on holiday and added a further 3 reviews.

As is customary in my monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

homesick  isaac and the egg
Homesick by Jennifer Croft, published by Charco Press
Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer, published by Headline

odesa at dawn
Odesa at Dawn by Sally McGrane, published by V&Q Books

Short Stories

A Little Unsteadily
A Little Unsteadily Into Light – New Dementia-Inspired Fiction, published by New Island Books

Translated Short Stories

punishment
Punishment by Ferdinand von Shirach (translated by Katherine Hall), published by Baskerville

Poetry

Mathematics for ladies
Mathematics for Ladies by Jessy Randall, published by Goldsmiths Press

Non Fiction

Hysterical
Hysterical – Exploding the Myth of Gendered Emotions by Pragya Agarwal, published by Canongate

Robyn Reviews

stardust  feverking
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, published by Orbit
The Fever King by Victoria Lee, published by Skyscape

truthwitchTruthwitch by Susan Dennard, published by Tor

Sourcing the books

Robyn couldn’t resist these beautiful editions of books she hopes one day to read.

Robyn books sept 22

Along with the restrained pile of books I claimed from my father’s library – for which, as you can see, no shelf space has yet been found – a generous quantity of review copies came through my door.

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms – your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – August 2022

august

August has been a mostly good month for my little household. Husband booked a couple of weeks off work – the longest break he has had this year – and we drove down to Exmoor for a walking holiday. I wrote about the hotel we stayed in here and about my teddy bear, Edward’s adventures here. While we were away I left my blog in Robyn’s capable hands and she managed to post three reviews of recently read books. It’s good to have her back as a contributor even if this is likely to be sporadic given her demanding job.

Husband and I opted to return home in time to celebrate my birthday with the whole family. The day started with a Parkrun and finished with a meal at our local pub. In between much cake was consumed and a bottle of champagne imbibed. It was a lovely day.

After our vacation, we enjoyed a staycation. This included an epic walk locally, covering 26k across the beautiful Marlborough Downs. The family all came together again for a bank holiday weekend barbeque. We have been very lucky with the weather during our time off work – the heatwave broke and we managed to avoid being outside during the much needed rain showers.

My usual activities have continued – regular runs, strength training and swims. Our hens have been released from their coop to enjoy free ranging again, but only when someone is around to deter potential predators. I wrote an article on hen keeping for The Vixen magazine (September 2022 edition) which may be downloaded from here.

It has also been a good reading month. I posted reviews for seven books – an eclectic range that I am glad to have read.

As is customary in my monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

after sappho  operation moonlight
After Sappho by Selby Wynn Schwartz, published by Galley Beggar
Operation Moonlight by Louise Moorish, published by Century

constellations  blue hour cover
Constellations of Eve by Abbigail Nguyen Rosewood, published by Platypus Press
blue hour by Sarah Schmidt, published by Tinder Press

knock knock manThe Knock-Knock Man by Russell Mardell, published by RedDoor Press

Translated Fiction

wild horses
Wild Horses by Jordi Cussà (translated by Tiago Miller), published by Fum d’Estampa

Non Fiction

never mind comrade
Never Mind, Comrade by Claudia Bierschenk, published by Tangerine Press

Robyn Reviews

psalmcover  gallantcover
A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers, published by TorDotCom
Gallant by V.E. Schwab, published by Titan Books

boncoverBook of Night by Holly Black, published by Del Rey

Sourcing the books

Robyn has cut down on the number of books she buys but couldn’t resist these beautiful editions.

robyn received august

My book post has been very special this month. The top three titles were birthday presents from my sister, the remainder are review copies.

books received jackie august 22

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms – your continuing support is always much appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – July 2022

july

As anticipated in last month’s roundup, this has been a fairly quiet month on my blog. Reading focus has been on books accepted for review on other sites, and on shorter works from my TBR pile. There were a couple of exceptions, although I only managed to finish one of these in a timely manner. My ability to read for lengthy periods as I once could appears to have evaporated.

Life has also been mostly quiet – no trips away or even nights out. I continue to run several times a week, visit the gym for strength training and to swim in the pool there. Other than these activities it feels as though little has been happening. The heatwave affected me badly while it lasted. I ponder how much of this was down to media scaremongering.

Something a little different from book blogging was a collaboration I agreed to with Chummys Bakery. This led to my first ever food review – you may read it here.

My intrepid teddy bear, Edward, has not had an ‘Explore’ post written about him this month but he did feature in my writeup of the adventures of three of my oldest bears – you may read it here.

I posted reviews for seven books, including the three latest releases from Ration Books. These pocket sized gems provide exactly the sort of writing I enjoy.

As is customary in my monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

badger  on photography
The Badger by Jenn Ashworth, published by Ration Books
On Photography by Wendy Erskine, published by Ration Books

Bartie Bristle The Beginning  wan
The Beginning by Julie Tatchell (illustrated by Jill Fry)
Wan by Dawn Promislow, published by Freehand Books

Translated fiction

day didn't happen
The day that didn’t happen by Gerd Kvanvig (translated by Wendy H. Gabrielsen), published by naked eye

Poetry

sprig of yarrowA Sprig of Yarrow by Jim Ghedi, published by Ration Books

Non fiction

Dont Turn AwayDon’t Turn Away: Stories of Troubled Minds in Fractured Times by Penelope Campling, published by Elliott & Thompson

Sourcing the books

I received a pleasing pile of book post, although am still limiting the number of titles accepted as I attempt to catch up with other commitments.

books received july 2022

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms – your continuing support is always much appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – June 2022

June has been a busy month once again. On the upside we enjoyed two trips away and celebrated a family birthday. On the downside we lost almost half our flock of hens to a fox attack, and then younger son deflected a hockey ball with his face during a match resulting in a fractured orbital socket and worrying swelling. We can only hope his sight will not be affected longer term.

Husband and I escaped the proliferation of bunting that appeared in our village around the jubilee weekend by travelling to Wales for the long weekend. I reviewed the hotel we stayed at in Devil’s Bridge near Aberystwyth here and wrote of my teddy bear, Edward’s adventures on this trip here. Our second holiday was with the family at the Center Parcs Longleat Forest site. I reviewed our midweek break here – Edward’s adventures have still to be written of. Younger son’s birthday fell in the following week and, having eaten out each day while we were away, he opted for a takeaway. Several bottles of fizz were consumed along with a caterpillar cake. It proved an enjoyable evening.

On a much sadder note, as mentioned above, a fox gained access to my chicken run in a dawn raid and killed six of my feathered friends before a kind neighbour scared it away. I added an account of this distressing event to my hen keeping posts – it may be read here.

With all of this activity, along with my usual runs and visits to the gym, I haven’t managed to find so much reading time. I posted reviews for a mere five books in June, although all were worth perusing. The coming month is also likely to be quiet on the blog as I have a backlog of books to review for other sites and will be focusing on them initially. There may well be other posts, as they tend to be written on a whim, but I am keen not to put myself under additional pressure at a time when there are many conflicting demands on my attention. Books will be read and reviewed when I can fit this into my schedule. To my mind, blogging should remain fun, otherwise why do it?

As is customary in these monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction


Seek the Singing Fish by Roma Wells, published by époque press

Translated fiction


Of Saints and Miracles by Manuel Astur (translated by Claire Wadie), published by Peirene

Translated short stories


Here Be Icebergs by Katya Adaui (translated by Rosalind Harvey), published by Charco Press

Non fiction

 
Multiple Joyce by David Collard, published by Sagging Meniscus
Neither Weak Nor Obtuse by Jake Goldsmith, published by Sagging Meniscus

Sourcing the books

Robyn received her usual selection of special edition hardbacks through her Goldsboro and Illumicrate subscriptions. One day she hopes to find time to read a book again.

I have cut back on accepting review copies due to my own reading slowdown but couldn’t resist these fine looking works

Jackie books june

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. I may not say it often enough but your continuing support is always much appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – May 2022

may

May opened with a celebration. Husband and I travelled to Cornwall for our 30th wedding anniversary, staying at the lovely Talland Bay Hotel (you may read my review of the place here). Edward, my intrepid teddy bear, came along too and I posted of his adventures here. I enjoy writing these occasional posts alongside my book reviews. Edward has been ‘exploring’ on my blog for a year now and is proving a popular addition.

I am also very much enjoying getting away on short breaks. We choose places that offer plenty of options for walking, along with a Parkrun within easy travelling distance. I am not yet ready to fly anywhere having read of the form filling, security queues, and continuing Covid related restrictions still in place in certain places. This latter issue has also resulted in us avoiding cities. We were disappointed not to be able to visit the Tate Modern when we travelled to London last year due to the need to book in advance, and Robyn tells me she had to pre-book her recent visit to the Science Museum when she was in the capital for a few days. I do hope these requirements are not now permanent as these free to enter attractions used to form the backbone of our valued city visits.

May also contains a family birthday. Elder son opted to eat out at our local pub, something that was enjoyed by all. Our local restaurants have become, once again, places where we feel welcome.

The improving weather is providing added cheer. Running in the sun may be a somewhat sweaty business but temperatures have not yet risen sufficiently to make the endeavour entirely draining. As well as Parkruns I have taken to running with a few other acquaintances on a Sunday morning, a rare chance to interact socially that has proved enjoyable. I managed a solo half marathon this month which was pleasing, and have set several new PBs when strength training.

I posted reviews for 12 books in May. This total included a revisit of a book previously reviewed as I was sent a stunning new edition – a pleasure to peruse.

As is customary in these monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

none of this serious  boy wonder
None of This is Serious by Catherine Prasifka, published by Canongate
The Former Boy Wonder by Robert Graham, published by Lendal Press

hidden child  Trespasses
The Hidden Child by Louise Fein, published by Head of Zeus
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy, published by Bloomsbury

swimmers  Ezra Maas
The Swimmers by Chloe Lane, published by Gallic
The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas by Daniel James, published by Valley Press

dublinersDubliners by James Joyce, published by Penguin Classics

Translated Fiction

Goodbye, Ramona  this world does not
Goodbye, Ramona by Montserrat Roig (translated by Megan Berkobien and María Cristina Hall), published by Fum d’Estampa
This World Does Not Belong To Us by Natalia Garcia Freire (translated by Victor Meadowcroft), published by Oneworld

Poetry

Fools ParadiseFool’s Paradise by Zoe Brooks, published by Black Eyes Publishing UK

Non Fiction

light rains
Light Rains Sometimes Fall by Lev Parikian, published by Elliott & Thompson

Translated Non Fiction

seven deadly sins
The Seven Deadly Sins, published by Fum d’Estampa

Sourcing the books

Robyn received her special edition, subscription books from Goldsboro and Illumicrate. These are the April and May offerings (I did not share her haul in last month’s roundup). The small bear pictured is also new to our household – a surprise gift from younger son. Ember approved of the fiery colours chosen for the spredges of Robyn’s new books.

I was very happy to receive the titles pictured below, reviewing several immediately. I am looking forward to reading the others closer to their publication date.

Jackie books may

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that can still be beautiful in our world and lives. Above all, may we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – April 2022

april

April included Easter and I had a lovely long weekend at home with my family, enjoying the fine weather. Husband and I managed a couple of sunny walks around the grounds of our local country house estate, recently reopened for the season. I feel lucky to have this on our doorstep. I also ran my 50th Parkrun event, something that entitles me to a new milestone t-shirt. I take pleasure in such small things, necessary positives given the wider issues in the world over which I can have negligible impact.

Given such thinking, I was particularly gratified by one of the books I read – Seven Steeples by Sara Baume. My reading this month has been mostly excellent but this particular title offered a reminder to appreciate the day to day. The life led by the couple featured is neither luxurious nor easy but they get by and find satisfaction in observation through the changing seasons. I loved the metaphor of the mountain – that it is not always necessary to make the effort to climb, even if the opportunity presents itself.

I have also allowed myself more rest time this month. While continuing to run regularly and visit the gym for strength sessions and swims, I have spent days at home allowing achy bits a chance to heal. My children have enjoyed the fresh bread I have been baking. My new hens are laying lots of eggs and I have been sharing these with neighbours.

I ponder if this more reflective time has been necessary as I approached the second anniversary of my parents’ deaths. It was interesting to read Will This House Last Forever by Xanthi Barker at this time as the author had a very different reaction to the death of her father than I had to mine. For the first time I tried to put into words something about how I felt – you may read it here.

I posted reviews for 11 books in April, mostly new publications although I did pluck a couple of older titles from my shelves – one when I spotted it had recently been released in paperback. Robyn added a further one review.

As is customary in these monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

voting day  swallowed man
Voting Day by Clare O’Dea, published by Fairlight Books
The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey, published by Gallic Books

Seven Steeples  mischief acts
Seven Steeples by Sara Baume, published by Tramp Press
Mischief Acts by Zoe Gilbert, published by Bloomsbury

Good Man Jesus  The Gamekeeper
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman, published by Canongate
The Gamekeeper by Barry Hines, published by And Other Stories

Translated Fiction

Love Novel  jacobe and fineta
Love Novel by Ivana Sajko (translated by Mima Simić), published by V&Q Books
Jacobé & Fineta by Joaquim Ruyra (translated by Alan Yates), published by Fum d’Estampa Press

marseillaise my wayMarseillaise My Way by Darina Al Joundi (translated by Helen Vassallo), published by Naked Eye

Non Fiction

will this house
Will This House Last Forever by Xanthi Barker, published by Tinder Press

Translated Non Fiction

dancing in mosque
Dancing In The Mosque by Homeira Qaderi (translated by Zaman Stanizai), published by Fourth Estate.

Robyn Reviews

1freyA Marvellous Light by Freya Marske, published by Tor

Sourcing the books

Robyn’s book post will be shared next month as she has not been around as much recently to provide me with a picture due to holiday and then working night shifts.

Publishers provided me with a fresh pile of enticing titles, some of which I read immediately.

books received april 22

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I once again wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – March 2022

march

The highlight of March is husband’s birthday. We celebrated with a long weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, staying at a hotel that, along with many other places in and around the nearby town, builds on its connections to Shakespeare. With this literary link in mind I wrote a review of the hotel – you may read it here. The trip also provided an adventure for my intrepid teddy bear, Edward. You may read of his latest explore in When Bill met Ted on an Excellent Adventure.

As with all the best birthdays, the celebrating continued on the following weekend when we ate out as a family. Other than these outings the month proceeded much as those for the previous two years. Lockdown may have been relaxed but life continues to feel somewhat restricted. I am amazed so many people are planning holidays beyond the country they live in given continuing uncertainty around rules governing travel.

I am grateful to be able to continue with my running – including weekly participation in Parkrun – along with regular strength training and swimming. My exercise routine has proved vital to my mental health.

On Mother’s Day weekend we added eleven new girls to our gradually depleting flock of hens – pullets have been harder to source during the years of plague. My children have taken to baking regularly so extra eggs will be welcome.

I posted reviews for 11 books in March, once again managing a good mix of new publications and older titles from my shelves. Robyn added one review, of a book released today.

As is customary in these monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

these days  exit management
these days by Lucy Caldwell, published by Faber & Faber
Exit Management by Naomi Booth, published by dead ink

still life  ghosts of spring
Still Life by Sarah Winman, published by Fourth Estate
Ghosts of Spring by Luis Carrasco, published by époque press

i nerd
I, Nerd by Max Sydney Smith, published by Open Pen

Translated Fiction

when i sing
When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà (translated by Mara Faye Letham), published by Granta

Short Stories

young farmers  stewkey blues
Young Farmers by Jan Carson
Stewkey Blues Stories by DJ Taylor, published by Salt

Non Fiction

shalimar daniels running formula
Shalimar by Davina Quinlivan, published by Little Toller
Daniel’s Running Formula by Jack Daniels, published by Human Kinetics

Translated Non Fiction

nina simone stopped
The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing by Darina Al Joundi (translated by Helen Vassallo), published by naked eye

Robyn Reviews

1franWild and Wicked Things by Francesca May, published by Orbit

Sourcing the books

Robyn received several special editions through her regular subscriptions as well as a most welcome ARC. Given her long working hours she is still struggling to find time to read.

books received march robyn

My book post this month contained a number of unexpected titles. It is always lovely to be remembered when proofs are being sent out.

books received march

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I once again wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – February 2022

february

On the last day in January I took part in a virtual running event organised by Outrun the Dark, a runwear company promoting running as a way to deal with mental health issues. Today I hope to take part in a similar event to outrun yet another month spent mostly avoiding people due to their alleged fear of me killing them or their loved ones (I am mask exempt). My concern is of the potential for long term damage to society if people continue to be viewed as a threat simply by taking up nearby space.

We believe dealing with mental health is a noble fight, and we honor the strength and grit needed to persevere. Born from the love of running and the fortitude it builds, we outrun the dark. 10% of profit is donated to funding new ways of beating anxiety and depression.

So closely did these stated company aims align with my own experiences, I had applied to be an ambassador for the brand. Sadly, I was not chosen, but I still follow their community, with its aim to make the world less dark.

outrun the darkPhoto credit: Outrun the Dark website

Having outrun January, February started well with a long weekend away in Devon. Husband and I stayed at a coastal hotel that I suspect would be popular with the coach tour crowd. This would not normally be our sort of thing but we had a lovely room and the food was excellent – although unchanging for the duration of our stay. Despite husband feeling somewhat below par, we managed several scenic walks and took part in a nearby Parkrun. I made good use of the hotel’s tiny swimming pool when he needed to rest. This trip away featured in Edward’s latest ‘Explore’ post.

The rest of the month was quieter with just the usual activities. I managed my first 10 mile run of the year – I’ve been working on pace and now need to build back distance. In strength training I set new PBs for squat and deadlift. This past week my energy levels dipped, as happens from time to time for no obvious reason. I’ve been grateful for my enticing TBR pile when needing to rest.

I posted reviews for 8 books in February – a good mix of new publications and older titles from my shelves. Robyn, although busy as ever, managed to add 1 review.

As is customary in these monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.

Fiction

pig iron  the retreat
Pig Iron by Benjamin Myers, published by Bloomsbury
The Retreat by Alison Moore, published by Salt

pricklet
The Pricklet by Mazin Saleem, published by Open Pen

Translated Fiction

battles kings elephants  tender
Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants by Mathias Enard (translated by Charlotte Mandell), published by Fitzcarraldo Editions
Tender by Ariana Harwicz (translated by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff), published by Charco Press

memoirs polar bear
Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada (translated by Susan Bernofsky), published by Granta

Poetry

singing in the dark times
Singing in the Dark Times by Margaret Corvid, published by Patrician Press

Non Fiction

the other jack
The Other Jack by Charles Boyle, published by CB editions

Robyn Reviews

1oliv
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake, published by Tor

Sourcing the Books

With a large backlog of unread books that she really wants to read, Robyn has cut back on purchases. These are the titles she has received since the New Year.

Robyn books jan feb

My book post has been very pleasing. I have some good reading ahead.

Jackie books february

As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.

My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms. Your continuing support is always appreciated.

And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and as much mental stability as can be mustered in these challenging times. May we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx