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text 2019-11-09 23:43
Reading progress update: I've read 22%.
A Month In The Country - J.L. Carr,Penelope Fitzgerald

The marvellous thing was coming into this haven of calm water and, for a season, not having to worry my head with anything but uncovering their wall-painting for them. And, afterwards, perhaps I could make a new start, forget what the War and the rows with Vinny had done to me and begin where I’d left off. This is what I need, I thought – a new start and, afterwards, maybe I won’t be a casualty anymore.

Well, we live by hope.

There was a second window in the loft; I’d noticed it the previous evening. It had some sack-cloth tacked across, so I’d supposed that it must cover some sort of opening. Now I pulled it away.

Over the years I suppose that I must have grubbed around scores, maybe hundreds of churches, but do you know, that tug revealed the most extraordinary sight of all. There, almost scraping my nose, was a baluster, a hulking big Anglo-Saxon baluster. And I began laughing. Although I’d never seen one before, I recognized it immediately from good old Bannister-Fletcher, our bible in Miss Witherpen’s English Architecture class. ‘Draw a baluster’ she used to chide. ‘Go on, never mind fiddling about with fancy Corinthian capitals – draw an English baluster.’ (I still can.)

And now here was one – a crude tub of stone with a pair of double hoops top and bottom. ‘Go on – draw a baluster!’ If I’d been Joseph Conrad I’d have gone into a peroration about the lost land of youth. My first real-life baluster! And for a few weeks, to all intent and purpose, I owned it: it was my baluster. So I stroked its belly – once for Bannister, once for Fletcher and once for the Workmen of the World long dead, and those, like me, still quick. 

Another book that's been lingering on my TBR for ages, but that oddly got put off by having watched the film (Colin Firth/Kenneth Branagh). I am surprised and glad to say that the book so far is much better than the film. I am not sure why, but the film seemed to lack something. The book on the other hand is written in a tone that is much lighter that what I remember the film to have been. 

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review 2019-10-13 16:36
The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan
The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan

I would never have picked this up if it had this cover. Mine looks like this Which is at least very Halloweeny.


I get what O'Nan was doing, and I respect it. He was writing his own nostalgic look back at youth as shown in one moody Halloween. And yeah, Something Wicked This Way Comes is wonderfully moody. But rereading it last year I didn't love it as much as I thought I did. And my  biggest problem with it is also my biggest problem with this: so much nostalgia, so little of anything else.


Marco is telling us the story. He's one of several teens who died in a wreck on Halloween one year ago. Marco, Toe, and Danielle are ghosts. Tim survived in good physical shape but with an unbearable burden of guilt and loss. Kyle survived but lost his personality and his memories and many of his life skills. His mother has devoted this past year to his recovery and rehabilitation and is aware that he's never likely to be an independent adult. Brooks is the first officer on the scene and the wreck has ruined his life as well.


It's very stylish this story, but not very engaging. Read for


Personal copy

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review 2019-09-20 11:15
REVIEW BY MERISSA - City Girl vs Country Boy (Forever Love #1) by Jordan Ford
City Girl vs Country Boy (Forever Love #1) - Jordan Ford

@mpearlauthor, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Young_Adult, 4 out of 5 (very good)

City Girl vs Country Boy is the first book in the Forever Love series, and we start with tragedy. Harper speaks to her mum only half an hour or so before they have a head on collision that changes the lives of so many.

Written mainly from Harper and Tane's point of view, but also with some from Stacey, this book was a delight to read, whilst also being very emotional. Harper is trying so hard to hold it together for everyone else, and yet is in desperate need herself. Tane can see the struggles she is having, and tries to help out in whatever way he can.

As for Stacey and Bianca, I can't wait for their book(s). I have no idea if they will be intertwined or separate, but either way... Stacey is dealing with her loss in the only way she knows how, the same as Bianca. Unfortunately, this is in two very different ways, and so their love for each other gets lost in the mix. I really hope they sort it out, and I want to Stacey to be happy. I just can't see it happening without some painful self-realisations. As for Bianca, she deserves someone who puts her first, and hopefully we've got a hint over just whom that might be.

Excellently written as expected, with no editing or grammatical errors that disrupted my reading. This was a gripping book that will definitely leave you wanting more. Highly recommended by me.

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2019/09/20/City-Girl-vs-Country-Boy-Forever-Love-1-by-Jordan-Ford
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review 2019-08-17 22:58
Joe Country / Mick Herron
Joe Country - Mick Herron

If Spook Street is where spies live, Joe Country is where they go to die.

Like the ringing of a dead man's phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . . In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him an outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears himself apart in the process.

Meanwhile, in Regent's Park, Diana Taverner's tenure as First Desk is running into difficulties. If she's going to make the Service fit for purpose, she might have to make deals with a familiar old devil . . . And with winter taking its grip, Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can't ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.


I was thrilled when my hold on Joe Country came in at the library. Because what is better than spending time with the Slow Horses of Slough House?

Once again, Jackson Lamb lets some of the horses out of the barn. They’re off to Wales in a snow storm to search for Louisa:

”We know Louisa was here,” he said. “We know she dumped her phone nearby...I think she got rid of it on purpose. She was going dark.”
“Which is protocol,” said J.K. Coe, “after hostile contact.”
“And she’s got her monkey wrench with her,” said Shirley. “Which means the hostiles might have suffered some contact themselves.”

This novel has all of the things that readers of the Slough House series have come to expect: backstabbing, deceit, ill conceived rescue plans, and general obnoxiousness of certain characters.

Lamb broke wind loudly. Nobody moved. “Did I misfart? That’s your signal to leave.” They left.

Herron also has an excellent way of weaving the real events of our world into his nearly contemporary Britain.

”If Frank Harkness only went places he was welcome,” said Lamb, “he’d have the social life of Julian Assange.”

“He’s already Kevin Spaceyed his career,” Lamb said. “If he wants to go for the full Rolf Harris, he’s a braver man than me.”

If you haven’t met the failed spies of Slough House yet, by all means proceed to the first book, Slow Horses, and start to enjoy their despair.

So many different ways to die arising from the same mistake. That could almost be a mission statement. If not for the Service as a whole, at least for Slough House.
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review 2019-07-31 11:30
"Joe Country - Slough House #6" by Mick Herron
Joe Country (Slough House #6) - Sean Barrett,Mick Herron

"Joe Country" is a well-written, atmospheric, deeply English spy story with a merciless body count and a finger on the pulse of contemporary British political scandal, BUT it's starting to feel repetitive and formulaic.


This is a solid contemporary British spy story with all the strengths I've come to expect from Mick Herron.


The writing is up to its usual very high standard, effortlessly blending lyrical reflection, perfectly evoked landscapes, closely observed social nuance and credible, brutal action.


He introduces new characters to Slough House and continues to develop the existing ensemble cast. The violence is real and merciless and even characters we are heavily invested in are not assured of making it to the end of the novel alive. The character sketches of Lamb and his slow horses are intense and believable, although there is a sense of getting that last squeeze of the lemon from Lamb's personal history.


The plot, which pulls us out of London and down to a coastal village, revolves around a Royal scandal that, if the press reports about Prince Andrew are to be believed, is only a small extrapolation from reality.

English politics, as Herron describes it, would, in earlier times have been seen as overly conspiratorial but now simply reflects the scary cynicism and callous indifference of government ministers in a country where they are herding us off the Brexit cliff while waving the flag, invoking the Dunkirk spirit and encouraging the sheep to have more belief in their ability to fly rather than fall.


Here's part of a dinner conversation between the new First Desk of the intelligence service and a disgraced former Minister, last seen attempting a coup and arranging an attack on a member of the intelligence service. He has just announced that his spell in the private sector is a "sabbatical" prior to his return to politics. She says:

"A come back? Seriously? With your history?"

His reply sums up the well-founded arrogance and complacency of our Eton-educated, effortlessly-entitled, narcissistic leaders:

"Do you want to know the thing about history? It's over. That's its purpose, A few years in the wilderness breaking bread with the lepers and you can return rinsed and pure, your sins not so much forgiven as wiped from the public memory. Oh, the occasional high-minded journalist might pick up some long-forgotten peccadillo but it's one of the blessings of an electorate with a low attention span that once you're out of jail and passed go, you're golden."


If this were my first Slough House book, I'm sure I'd have finished it with a satisfied sigh and a five-star rating, but it's my sixth Slough House book and I ended it feeling that some of it was too familiar to the point of being repetitive and formulaic.


I can see that it's hard to keep a team that is supposedly sidelined and staffed exclusively with screw-ups at the centre of the most important intelligence action in the country. It requires something with either a personal connection to the players or the kind of threat that the rest of the intelligence community is either unaware of or deliberately looking away from. In "Joe Country" this leads to the re-emergence of old bad guys and a plot that requires more effort at the suspension of disbelief than usual.


I got the feeling that "Joe Country" was one of those move-the-story-arc-along books, worth a read but not memorable. I suspect we're close to the end of the viable life of Slough House. There are hints in the book that Lamb's self-abuse is catching up with him and his political capital is decaying as regimes change.


I'll still be in the queue to buy "Slough House #7 when it comes out but I'm hoping that it will feel a little crisper and more purposeful than "Joe Country".



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