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review 2017-06-19 21:38
Cold Earth: Shetland, Book 7 - Ann Cleeves,Kenny Blyth,Isis Publishing Ltd

Why did I read it? I have enjoyed the Shetland series by Anne Cleeves thus far, and, as it is summer and I have time spare until next semester, I thought I'd pick up where I'd left off.


What's it about? While attending a funeral, a landslide occurs ripping through the cemetery and destroying "Tain", a nearby croft house, thought to be uninhabited.  While checking on the damage, Jimmy Perez finds the body of a woman.  Initially thought to be a victim of the landslide, upon discovering the woman was dead beforehand, Jimmy asks Willow Reeves to head up the murder investigation.


What did I like? The narration was clear, and without fault.  The narrator, Kenny Blyth was decent, and good with accents.


I loved re-visiting Jimmy, Willow and Sandy, and mainland Shetland.  As always, the descriptions of people and places were illuminating, and I felt right there with the characters.  Anne Cleeves is very good at evoking an atmosphere.


What didn't I like? As the narrator, Kenny Blyth was a little disengaging; I found myself drifting away from the audio book, and had to rewind and re-listen a few times.


I'm not sure what it was - the narration, the plot - but the whole story seemed to just drag on, and on, though, oddly, the murder is solved in a few days.  I generally like this series, but I wasn't gripped at all. 


I'm afraid, too, I guessed the culprit almost from the first meeting. This has not always been the case with the Shetland series, so I was disappointed.


Would I recommend it? Oh yes, to fans of the Shetland series, and those who like crime fiction, but start at the beginning of the series as this is not a stand-alone book, given prior knowledge of some of the characters is required in order to understand certain situations.

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photo 2017-06-15 15:45
Rewind … because part of us will always be seventeen years old.
Karen Alexander lives in California and has it all: teenage children who allow her to be seen in public with them now and then, a successful architect husband who still kind of fits into his I Hate Maggie Thatcher T-shirt, and a teaching career she loves, especially in the school holidays. And she has Carol—her official Best Pal since their days of platform shoes, flicked-out hair, lip gloss shoplifted from Woolworths, Ally’s Tartan Army, and dancing to ABBA and "The Hustle" at the local disco.
Thirty-five years later, they worry more about a good foundation to cover the wrinkles, a reliable hairdresser to cover the grey, stylish but comfortable shoes, shapewear that gives them the semblance of a shape, and husbands who fall asleep on the couch.
Back in Scotland for a funeral and a cringe-worthy sixtieth birthday party, Karen runs into her teenage crush, Bobby Henderson, the former local punk rocker and all-round bad boy who broke Karen’s sixteen-year-old heart by not noticing her. When he walks into the party in his leather jacket and winks at her, Karen’s heart skips a beat like it was 1978. Is the first cut really the deepest? Has Karen spent the last thirty years with the wrong guy?
Can you rewind the tape of love, and if you can, should you?
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review 2017-06-14 23:28
A collection of easy to read, short, crime fiction tales
Offshore: a short story collection - Ann Cleeves

Why did I read it? I enjoy Anne Cleeves' Shetland series, and I also like the television serialisation of her Vera novels, so a collection of short stories to dip into during short breaks sounded good.

What's it about? A collection of short, crime fiction tales featuring some of the characters from Anne Cleeves' books, Willow Reeves, Jimmy Perez, and Vera Stanhope.

What did I like? The stories were short, complete and were well written, holding my attention the whole way through; some even managing a twist in the tale.  

What didn't I like?  There were too few stories?  Sorry, but that's about all I could find to dislike.   

Would I recommend it?  If you are a fan of Anne Cleeves, then, yes, I would recommend them, though they are only available in ebook form.  If you enjoy crime fiction, but don't have the time to read an entire novel, then this may be for you, too.

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text 2017-05-28 18:38
The Sunday Post - May Festival and Food

Despite this post's title, this is more about Saturday than Sunday because apart from a quick venture outside this morning to see the last of the events I had checked into at the university, I have done the bare minimum this Sunday, or, I should say I have minimised any interruptions that might interfere with my reading. 


Apart from the poetry session in the university botanical gardens, there was little to get out of the house for because I had already achieved all my weekend goals yesterday. In particular:


1. Go to gym/training. - check.

2. Meet up with friends. - check.

3. Learn something new. - check.

4. Enjoy the (rare) sunshine. - check.


After playing tennis for a couple of hours on Friday, yesterday's early morning workout was just enough to make me not want to move much, not that my Saturday allowed me to crash on the couch for a bit either.


The University of Aberdeen's May Festival took place over the last three days. The May Festival is a series of events, lectures, walks, tours, readings, etc. that centre around the very beautiful university grounds and are somewhat tied in with the university faculties. So, there were classes and talks at the sports centre, experiments by the science department, lectures on history, bookish talk, food stalls, lots of other things, and beer.


It's an event that I look forward to every year because it is such a fun way to spend a day with friends. Yesterday, I met up with a friend i hadn't seen in a few months for a morning lecture, and in the afternoon I bumped into another one who was happy to have found someone to have a beer with on the lawn. The university had provided lawn chairs that were so comfortable that we nearly forgot the time.



I'm not sure what my favourite part of the day was, because it is hard to decide whether spending time with friends can ever be beaten by the events themselves, but one of the events was really rather special:


I had been looking forward to a talk about The Suffragettes in Aberdeen. As you may know from other posts, this is a topic that I have an interest in. What made it extra special, tho, was that the lecture was being presented by one of the lecturers that I knew from own undergraduate days. And I had not seen her since. So, I was excited by both the topic and by the prospect of saying hello after. 

Needless to say, it was a thoroughly interesting talk and I am looking forward to reading up on a few points about the differences between the movements for suffrage in England and Scotland - and on some of the characters who dared to defy Mrs. Pankhurst. It sounded like even tho the story of the Suffragettes is widely known in a general way, some of the individual characters and side-stories have already been brushed over by the more general story of the big-hitting (in more sense than one) organisation led by Mrs. Pankhurst. And it is worth remembering that some of the success of the Suffragettes was due to some other colourful characters.


The other fabulous event yesterday was a lecture by the department of psychology on The Science of Swearing. You always know that you are in for a good time when an academic starts of the talk with  disclaimer and a request for anyone that is easily offended to leave right away and the announcement that there will be live audience participation.

I took away many interesting points about swearing, but mostly I loved that they had prepared graphs to show the use of swearwords through the ages, that showed that the Victorians again ruined everything. ;D



Altogether, Saturday was a great day but I was on my feet from 7:30am (way too early for a weekend day) until about 8:00pm, at which point the sunshine and beer had taken their toll and sent me straight to sleep.


As mentioned, today I mostly chilled, but I was also reminded that it was Soup/Salad Sunday, so I figured that sounded like it might just need little enough effort to feed me and be delicious:



There is no particular recipe for this. It's just some chickpeas, peppers, quinoa, tomatoes, and sweet pickled gherkins, olive oil, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and smoked paprika - i.e. stuff I found in my kitchen - with some homemade tzaziki (garnished with a bit of dill).


I hope you are all having a great weekend, too!




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text 2017-05-14 16:53
The Sunday Post: Clachnaben

Happy Sunday!


In a spontaneous turn of events, a couple of friends invited me to join them on a hike yesterday. I was at their house waiting for the tow truck to take my broken down car to the garage when they came up with the idea of walking up one of the many, many, many hills around this part of the world. So, of course, I was delighted - even tho the prospect of getting up early for outdoorsy exercise after a night of drinks and nibbles (it was Eurovision night last night!) was a bit daunting. 


I needn't have worried. I woke up freakishly early (you know that waking feeling when you're trying to decide whether a hangover will develop or not?), made sandwiches and coffee, and dug out my hiking boots.


I haven't been hiking properly for about two years (and am not the fittest of people), so this really was a bit daunting but the company was great and we got there early enough to have a lot of time to make our way up the hill.



Clachnaben (Gaelic for "rock on the hill") looks pretty impressive but it is still classed as a "hill", not a munro. The ascent, however, was pretty challenging - well, it was for me - and changed between wide paths to very narrow ones on the edge of steep slopes, from smooth to rocky steps and rubble.



By the time we made it to the top, I was done for.



The views made up for the effort, tho:


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