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

Monthly Roundup – January 2022

january19

The first day of a New Year is a Parkrun Day so I started this month taking part in one of my favourite activities. The route of our local Parkrun includes a couple of laps around a riverside field. It gets very muddy at this time of year. The keen runners regularly fall over trying to retain momentum on the slip-slidey surface. I tend to take things easier in such conditions, although this doesn’t help with my attempts to improve overall pacing.

Later in the month temperatures plummeted and the field froze – an improvement for running but utterly chilling on my bike ride in. After one particularly freezing event I chose to run home rather than cycle as at least this kept my body temperature at an acceptable level. On a previous week I had got so cold I still felt unwell the next day. Such are the trials of winter when coping with gear inappropriate for the conditions.

I know there are those who suffer seasonal affectiveness disorder and have much sympathy for the challenges this brings. I try to keep my mood steady by going outside each day, even if it is just a short ride to my local gym for strength training. Over the past few weeks husband has been joining me in this as his leg injury is still bothering him, effecting his running activity. Thinking it might be improving he ran one Parkrun alongside me, the slower pace limiting the effort he needed to expend. I was amused by his comments afterwards – that the view from my more relaxed place in the pack is so different to that amongst his fast and focused brigade.

We celebrate daughter’s birthday in January. She booked a few days off work so was able to enjoy some R&R as well as getting outside in daylight for walks, and also trips to the cinema. The family meal at our local pub was enjoyed by all, as was pizza night on the day itself. I ate more that weekend than I normally would in a week.

Unless, of course, that week includes Christmas. In this month’s Edward Explores my intrepid teddy bear came out of hibernation for the festive season and was rewarded with a delightful new friend.

I posted reviews for 9 books in January. Robyn added a further 3 reviews.

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

Fiction

the raptures good choices
The Raptures by Jan Carson, published by Doubleday
Good Choices by Bonny Brooks, published by Open Pen

failing of angels  not in the world
The Failing of Angels by Chris Tutton, published by Avalanche Books
We Are Not In The World by Conor O’Callaghan, published by Penguin

matilda windsor  Amongst Women
Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin, published by Inspired Quill
Amongst Women by John McGahern, published by Faber & Faber

Translated Fiction

goddess chronicle  wilder winds
The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino (translated by Rebecca Copeland), published by Canongate
Wilder Winds by Bel Olid (translated by Laura McGloughlin), published by Fum d’Estampa

Non Fiction

long field
The Long Field by Pamela Petro, published by Little Tolller

Robyn Reviews

1xira  1fred
Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao, published by Rock the Boat
Beartown by Fredrik Backman (translated by Neil Smith), published by Penguin

1ciar
The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth, published by Andersen Press

Sourcing the Books

Robyn has been enjoying some well deserved time off work and will share the books she received in January with next month’s haul.

I received this very pleasing stack, some of which I read immediately.

Jackie books January

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

Monthly Roundup – December 2021

december

Another year draws to a close. The virus is still with us, mutating as such agents do. Governments around the world scrabble to appear in control by limiting freedoms and encouraging public shaming. Lives are put at risk as healthcare efforts focus on this one infection. Hard won livelihoods are decimated, feeding the myriad health impacts associated with stress and potential penury. It is hard not to despair at the media manipulation and fearmongering. Someone on Twitter described 2021 as ‘rather like a remaindered copy of the previous year’ and this resonated.

At the beginning of December it looked ever more likely that additional restrictions would be imposed in England. Husband and I decided we could squeeze in one more trip away before the hospitality industry became inhospitable again. The hotel we stayed at on the south coast had reintroduced a mask mandate, but the weather was good and the food provided excellent so we had a mostly enjoyable few days by the sea. We walked up and down the local cliff paths for miles. We ran as tourists in Bridport Parkrun. Of course, Edward came along with us. I wrote about his adventures here: Edward Explores: The Dorset Coast.

On returning home we cast our minds towards Christmas. Books make the perfect present so I published my roundup of recommended reads – 23 titles that particularly impressed me from the well over 100 books reviewed this past year – Annual Roundup.

Along with the other Bookmunch reviewers, I contributed to their fine Best of 2021 list.

Robyn’s recommendations came later in the month – Robyn’s Reads of 2021. She has been so busy with work her contributions to the blog have had to be curtailed.

I continue to exercise regularly although this has been somewhat limited recently by fluctuating energy levels and time constraints. Hopefully I will get out more in the New Year.

Husband and I attended two social events this month – a work dinner hosted by the company we are currently contracted to, and a dinner party with the friends husband runs with each Sunday – when he is not injured. I am rarely comfortable in social situations but these events passed without anxiety inducing incident. Phew!

I posted reviews for 10 books in December. Robyn has been too busy on the wards to add to this.

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

Fiction

Pupa  glide
Pupa by J.O. Morgan, published by Henningham Family Press
Glide by Alison Jean Lester (with photographs by Andrew Gurnett)

here is where  foster
Here is Where by Morgan Omotoye, published by Open Pen
Foster by Claire Keegan, published by Faber & Faber

reset  he wants
Reset by Paolo Pergola, published by Sagging Meniscus
He Wants by Alison Moore, published by Salt

Translated Fiction

four minutes
Four Minutes by Nataliya Deleva (translated by Izidora Angel), published by Open Letter

YA Fiction

strong stuffStrong Stuff by A.F. Stone, published by SRL Publishing

Poetry

the maskThe Mask by Elisabeth Horan, published by The Broken Spine

Non Fiction

B plaguesB, A Year In Plagues and Pencils by Edward Carey, published by Gallic

Sourcing the books

Robyn received several gifts of books alongside her usual subscription copies from Illumicrate and Goldsboro.

IMG-20211227-WA0000

My monthly ‘books in’ pile was small in quantity but big in quality – two of these were read immediately.

books received jackie december

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. A New Year beckons. Let’s hope it includes moments of joy and a better appreciation of what is still our beautiful world. Whatever it brings, may we strive, at all times, to be kind  xx

Monthly Roundup – November 2021

november

There have been positives this month. I’m going to try hard to focus more on the positives.

Husband and I spent the first weekend of November in the Lake District. Despite the wet weather we had a lovely few days away. We climbed a mountain, walked around several lakes and ran a Parkrun in nearby Ambleside as tourists. We also enjoyed lots of lovely food. Naturally, Edward, my adventuring teddy bear, accompanied us. I wrote about his exploits in Edward Explores: Grasmere.

Edward had further adventures locally. I posted about these in Edward Explores: Fungi. Included is a family meal out to celebrate what should have been daughter’s second graduation, which she could not attend. We are so proud of all her achievements.

Daughter and I attended a ‘gig’ in Bath, visiting Toppings Bookshop on its reopening day. I wrote about this here.

Time has also been spent at the two gyms I frequent, with longer, loopy bike rides taken to get there – so cold at this time of year. I continue to run regularly and beat my personal best at our local Parkrun – pleasing given the course has now turned muddy and therefore slippery following recent weather. After much procrastination, I finally contacted a friend I used to walk with weekly and arranged to meet after many months of no communication. It was good to catch up with her news – we now hope to get back to walking together more regularly.

Hockey season is in full swing so the other members of my family come and go between training sessions and matches. As two of them also work shifts, it is a rare treat to all sit down to eat together.

I posted reviews for 8 books in November. Robyn added her thoughts on a further 2 books.

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

Fiction

learwife  Emperor-of-Ice-Cream
Learwife by JR Thorp, published by Canongate
The Emperor of Ice Cream by Brian Moore, published by Turnpike Books

small things
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, published by Faber & Faber

Short Stories

building a wall  colchester writenight
No One Has Any Intention of Building a Wall by Ruth Brandt, published by Fly on the Wall Press
Colchester WriteNight, published by Patrician Press

Translated Fiction

Brickmakers   Byobu
Brickmakers by Selva Almada (translated by Annie McDermott), published by Charco Press
Byobu by Ida Vitale (translated by Sean Manning), published by Charco Press

Translated Non Fiction

intimate resistanceThe Intimate Resistance: A Philosophy of Proximity by Josep Maria Esquirol (translated by Douglas Suttle), published by Fum d’Estampa Press

Robyn Reviews

1tad  1susa
Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson, published by Orbit
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, published by Bloomsbury

Sourcing the books

Robyn purchased her usual pile of pretty hardbacks, none of which she has yet found time to read…

robyn books november  robyn trilogy november

I received a pleasing quantity of books through the post and also made some purchases while at the Toppings gig.

IMG_20211127_175140341

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

Monthly Roundup – October 2021

october

October has been another month of marking time. Is this what life is to be now – limited social interaction and staying mostly local? At least the lack of travel and associated consumption means less environmental pollution.

I am enjoying the photographs various friends are posting online as they return to travelling abroad. I feel a hint of regret and nostalgia but am happy they are finding ways to navigate the myriad and ever changing rules now in place around the world. I am also grateful that I live amidst beautiful countryside. I can appreciate this from my doorstep.

There have been highlights. Younger son finally secured a job and is now a ‘key worker’. It is part time but he picks up occasional extra shifts to add to his contracted hours. Daughter should have graduated this month but only the former students would have been allowed in the venue so opted not to attend. In the event she was working nights again so a good call. We celebrated as a family a few days later with dinner at a local restaurant. Our young people have missed out on so many milestones that would have been observed more lavishly in former times.

Husband’s calf injury is healing and he has managed a few short and easy runs recently with no ill effects. I continue to run several times a week. At one of my weekly Parkruns I cracked the 28 minute barrier, setting a new personal best for the course. I also set a PB over the half marathon distance, although this run required several days recovery. I am in awe of anyone who can run a marathon or longer.

My cycling has become less enjoyable as the weather turns autumnal, although I did purchase a pair of windproof gloves that have helped keep me more comfortable. Most rides eventually lead to the town gym where I strength train – these workouts are showing gradual improvements. Setting and then ticking off personal goals helps with motivation but are, I realise, unimportant in the scheme of things. We take what we can.

My teddy bear post this month saw Edward out and about locally – those interested may read Autumn.

It has been a mostly decent reading month. I posted reviews for 8 books in October. Robyn added her thoughts on a further 2 books. The non fiction titles I read inspired me to write a personal post, On Mattering.

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

Fiction

case study narrow door
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, published by Saraband
A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris, published by Orion

Translated Fiction

bureau  winter flowers
The Bureau of Past Management by Iris Hanika (translated by Abigail Wender), published by V&Q Books
Winter Flowers by Angélique Villeneuve (translated by Adriana Hunter), published by Peirene Press

Occupation
Occupation by Julián Fuks (translated by Daniel Hahn), published by Charco Press

Short Stories

dead relativesDead Relatives by Lucie McKnight Hardy, published by Dead Ink Books

Non Fiction

northern irish writing  aurochs and auks
Northern Irish Writing After The Troubles by Caroline Magennis, published by Bloomsbury Academic
Aurochs and Auks by John Burnside, published by Little Toller

Robyn Reviews

1naom  1kate
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik, published by Del Rey
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, published by 4th Estate

Sourcing the books

Robyn purchased her usual pile of pretty hardbacks. Now all she needs is some time between long work shifts to read them.

robyn received october 21

I was delighted to receive a fine stack of books and am looking forward to picking up many of these.

jackie received October 21

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

Monthly Roundup – September 2021

september

The mostly settled weather throughout September has enabled me to get out and about locally each day – to exercise alone as I still fear socialising may be fraught with strongly held opinions and brusque castigations. I am marking time in this way as so many lockdown restrictions remain – in people’s heads even if no longer legislated. The media continues to whip up fear that fits their agenda, with few readers appearing to dig deeper. It is hard not to despair at the apparent lack of critical thinking and bullying nature of so much commentary. Facts on issues remain a challenge to access if off message, with name calling endemic. So much of the science will not be provable until properly researched over years. The sociological and psychological effects already appear chilling.

September saw the reopening of the local gym and swimming pool I had been a member of for years before it closed its doors in March 2020. Although I have continued to run and cycle outside throughout lockdown, I missed my strength training, hence why I joined a town gym when access to such facilities was granted again. I don’t understand why it took so long for my original gym to reopen to former members but, now that this has been rectified, I am very glad to be back to regular swimming (my long unused muscles beg to differ). I am, however, considering whether I can continue to justify two gym memberships. The strength training equipment is much more extensive at the town gym but attending both feels decadent.

In addition to my local runs, I have continued to enjoy weekly Parkruns since they restarted. Husband and I attend these together, although he tore a muscle in his calf fifteen minutes into his first hockey match of the season so has since been volunteering as a marshal while I lollop around the course. I was pleased to beat my personal best time mid month. Some weeks I push hard and others I simply enjoy joining in.

Husband’s hockey may have been curtailed but our boys still train and play – for different teams this season which can make transport logistics interesting. Daughter has been working nights and then weekends so has yet to play a league game.

Younger son continues to apply for jobs – a frustrating process when everything is online and not all links provided work. He has been offered two interviews thus far, neither of which he could progress due to inoperative booking systems and a lack of contact details to be found to raise the issue.

For my fellow teddy bear fans, the month included two updates in my occasional series, Edward Explores. These were, A Happy Birthday and London in the Time of Covid.

Edward’s adventures in London occurred because I was invited to a party – an actual in-person literary event where people chatted and enjoyed themselves in a fine venue. I wrote about the evening here: Launch Party for Dreamtime by Venetia Welby.

Following this, husband and I talked of arranging another trip away, to a remote location rather than a city while access to attractions remains limited. We are, however, reluctant to book anything much in advance due to the threat of sudden changes to restrictions. We have no desire to travel abroad at this time but a short UK break would be welcome once his injury heals.

I have been pleased to note that businesses are starting to state whether behaviours such as mask wearing will be expected at events. It makes arranging attendance – or avoiding – an informed choice. For this reason I will not be at the Marlborough Literature Festival next weekend – a shame as I enjoyed this in previous years. I assume they are catering for what the majority want and that makes economic sense.

I posted reviews for 7 books in September. Robyn added her thoughts on a further 5 books. I also posted an author interview, gleaning some interesting background from Sam Reese whose latest book of short stories I reviewed.

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

Fiction

passage north  Some Rise By Sin cover
A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam, published by Granta
Some Rise By Sin by by Siôn Scott-Wilson, published by Deixis Press

passing of formsThe Passing of the Forms That We Have Loved by Christopher Boon, published by époque press

Short Stories

stories tell children  distant ridgeline
Stories We Tell Our Children by Marc Nash, published by Lendal Press
On A Distant Ridgeline by Sam Reese, published by Platypus Press

Translated Short Stories

song of youth
The Song of Youth by Montserrat Roig (translated by Tiago Miller), published by Fum d’Estampa Press.

Poetry

sun is open
The Sun Is Open by Gail McConnell, published by Penned in the Margins

Robyn Reviews

1lind  1tori
The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis, published by Hodder & Stoughton
The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino, published by Titan Books

1tjkl  1marg
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune, published by Tor
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson, published by Simon & Schuster Children’s

1alexThe Winter Garden by Alexandra Bell, published by Del Rey

Sourcing the books

Robyn has made many purchases this month, including three copies of the same book and a third copy of her favourite story of all time (The Night Circus). She now earns her own money so who am I to ask questions?

Robyn received september 2021

I also received a generous stack of enticing titles. I am eager to read each of these.

Jackie received September 2021

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