Books · Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary: 8 September 2019

It’s been a strange week somehow. It has been really autumnal whilst I was hoping for an Indian summer, so I am a bit bummed. Winter always seems to last forever when September is cold and rainy. Hopefully it warm up a bit soon for a last blast of summer.

READING

My reading has been really up and down. I have been listening to audio books, which is something I have not really done all year, so that is pretty awesome. I always prefer to listen to autobiographies read by the author. I find I can’t concentrate on audio fiction, though if you have really good recommendations I would love to hear them! I finished Walking Home by Clare Balding, which I really enjoyed, and I have started Becoming by Michelle Obama, wich I am loving so far. Very different women, but both very inspiring to me.

Balding, Clare - Walking Home  Obama, Michelle - Becoming

The first book I finished reading was Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. That was such a fun read. It is a bit like reading a soap opera, but sometimes you need a good light read. That was exactly what it was. A fun time.

Kwan, Kevin - Crazy Rich Asians   Spencer Davis, Lloyd - A Polar Affair

Finally I finished A Polar Affair by Lloyd Spencer Davis, which was such a fascinating non-fiction book about the race for the South Pole as well as the lives of Antarctic penguins. It was very well done and I liked that it had these dual subjects and how they were related.

I am currently reading book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, which is Knife of Dreams. As more and more information is released about the upcoming Amazon adaptation I am getting more and more excited about it as well. The casting is looking so good!

Winman, Sarah - Tin Man   Jordan, Robert - The Wheel of Time 11 Knife of Dreams

I have also started reading Tin Man by Sarah Winman, which I plan to read a good chunk of today. It is one of the books I am reading for my 2019 TBR. I have been reading bitesized chunks of it, but I would really like to get my teeth into it today.

TV

I have watched very little TV this week. We watched a couple of the earliest episodes of The Big Bang Theory for the first time in ages and that was kind of fun!

OTHER

It was my daughter’s first week back at school and it feels like we are right back into the swing of things. We have always opened our Airbnb cottage again, after being closed for the month of August, and we have been having guests in it again.

It was my grandma’s 93rd birthday. She has early stages of dementia and can be a very tricky lady. She finds it hard to know which memories are real and which she has made up along the way. Everything is real to her, which leads to very difficult situations. More of my family is travelling down today to see her, so I am bringing some cake and we are having a small celebration for her.

We have some sort of creatures in our roof making a racket at night. We are trying to figure out what it could be, but we are not sure. First we thought woodboring beetles, but it is a proper gnawing sound, which sounds more like mice, but that too seems odd, so we are not quite sure. I might ring pest control tomorrow and discuss it with them, as it is so annoying!.

COMING UP

I am hoping it will be a quiet week, but I always hope that and it usually isn’t. I usually end up running around like a headless chicken and then at the end of the week I have no idea what I did to make it so busy.

My daughter’s tennis lessons are starting up again, as is my football (soccer) training, which I do just to keep fit. No actual competitions for me!

Apart from that, we will wing it this week and see where it goes. At least it looks like the weather will be slightly better.

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What have you been up to? What have you been reading? Watching? Doing? And what are you planning for the coming week?

 

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Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Polar Affair (Lloyd Spencer Davis)

Spencer Davis, Lloyd - A Polar Affair

★★★★★★☆

Title: A Polar Affair; Antarctica’s Forgotten Hero and the Secret Love Lives of Penguins
Author: Lloyd Spencer Davis
Genre: Non-Fiction/Biography/Adventure/Natural World   Pages: 400
First published: 2019 by Pegasus Books
Edition: e-Book, courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher

George Murray Levick was the physician on Robert Falcon Scott’s tragic Antarctic expedition of 1910. Marooned for an Antarctic winter, Levick passed the time by becoming the first man to study penguins up close. His findings were so shocking to Victorian morals that they were quickly suppressed and seemingly lost to history.

At the end of this book I feel like I have gained all sorts of knowledge in the best possible way. This book is not only about penguin sex (though it tells you a whole lot about that!), it is about the race for the South Pole and polar exploration and the hardships those explorers experienced. I learned that it takes a special kind of person to push those limits.

The author goes from his own research and experience in penguin biology and surviving in Antarctica to that of the first penguin biologist, Murray Levick, and the South Pole race between Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Admundsen.

This is an endlessly fascinating account about those first Antarctic explores and the animals they encountered based on their notes and diaries, but written in a clear and engaging way. Their hardships break your heart. It also looks at their lives (if they lived) after polar exploration. And of course, the author shows us glimpses into the often vulgar lives of the Adelie penguins.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in adventure or natural history.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · FIVE

FIVE (ugly covers) on Friday

Here’s the scoop! Yes book folk, I am officially superficial! If a book has an ugly cover I refuse to buy a physical copy of it until the publisher gives it a better cover, or never if they never see the error of their ways.

I will still happily read an e-book, but I do not welcome ugly books onto my shelves…

So, here’s five book covers that are so unappealing I would not buy them… Some I have read, and a couple were still on my Goodreads TBR.

1. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Mackenzi Lee)

Lee, Mackenzi - The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

I really enjoyed this book, but have you seen the cover? Whoever thought it would be a good idea to give it such a badly designed ugly cover? Give it a makeover and I may actually buy a copy, but as long as it has this cover, I will give it a pass.

 

2. The Rufus Spy (Alys Clare)

Clare, Alys - The Rufus Spy

God, this cover is uninteresting. I understand that it is set in a certain landscape, but this cover does absolutely nothing for me and it does not compell me to buy the book. The story I actually liked.

3. Humble by Nature (Kate Humble)

Humble, Kate - Humble By Nature

I understand that you put a picture of the author on a autobiography, but this cover looks like it as been put together by a six-year-old. It’s atrocious! Not Kate, I have nothing against Kate, but the cover is awful. The book was a great fun though!

4. Daughter of the Burning City (Amanda Foody)

Foody, Amanda - Daughter of the Burning City

I have not read this book, so I can’t say anything about the contents, but that cover is already putting me off, The city at the bottom looks pretty enough, but that font just assaults my eyes. The imagery is not bad and if they had just readjusted the cover to be a bit more balanced, it may have actually worked.

5. The Black Prism (Brent Weeks)

Weeks, Brent - The Black Prism

Although I am sure I will read this book at some point in the future, the cover makes me not want to read it. It’s just so blegh! Fantasy covers can definitely be pretty iffy with cloaked figures galore and swords and stuff and this one is a pretty mediocre example. It really does inspire me at all. There is nothing about this cover that makes me want to pick it up. But… I have heard plenty of people talk about it and it sounds like it would be right up my street, so if the e-book is on cheap some time, I will happily buy it, but no pysical copy with this cover will enter my house (unless I find it for 50p in a charity shop, because that’s cheaper than a 99p e-book!).

***

I would love to see some of your ugly/uninspiring covers.

I am planning to do another Five on Friday next week, with beautiful covers on average/bad books.

 

 

 

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Walking Home (Clare Balding)

Balding, Clare - Walking Home

★★★★★★☆

Title: Walking Home
Author/Audio Narrator: Clare Balding
Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir
First published: 2014
Edition: audio

This is a story of paths and people, of discovering the glories of Britain and Ireland, and of (mis)adventures with the family. Along the way there are charming diversions and life-changing rambles, including her take on the 2012 Olympics. And, finally, this is Clare’s story of Walking Home . . .

This is the second of Clare’s memoirs I have listened to and I have enjoyed both a lot. I love listening to Clare talk about her life.

This one centres on the walking side of her life, in particular her job as a presenter for a walking program on BBC radio, but also walking a particular long distance walk with her family near their home. She intersperses that with stories of her life, as a sports presenter for the BBC, as a dog lover, and of course of her life in horse racing.

If you go into this expecting a book that would be solely about walking you may be disappointed, but I love how this book seems to be a stream of consciousness. She will start a story about a walk and then one thought will go off on a tangent and she ends up talking her dog, or the London Olympics. I kind of love that about this book. It is like listening to a good friend and I found it very comforting to listen to. Her accents when she talks about other people are quite amusing, and even if they don’t sound quite right, I think that only gives it more charm. I

If you are not familiar with Clare, I doubt this would be of much interest to you, but I have always loved her and her books are very much exactly as she comes across when you see her on the television, warm, knowledgeable and kind. If you are familiar with her and like her, I would wholeheartedly recommend these books on audio.

6 out of 7 stars

Books · WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays: 4 September 2019

IMG_1384-0

WWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you will read next?

***

What am I currently reading?

I am about 35% into A Polar Affair by Lloyd Spencer Davis. It’s a NetGalley ebook about polar exploration and penguins. It’s good, but slow going.

I have just started reading Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan, which is book 11 in The Wheel of Time series. Amazon is turning the series into a TV show, which should release in 2021. I can’t wait! So far, the casting looks good and Brandon Sanderson is involved, so I am confident I will love it!

Finally, I am listening to Walking Home by Clare Balding on audio. It’s basically a book about walking and it’s wonderfully quaint. I love Clare anyway and I listened to her previous book as well. She has a great voice to listen to. She is wonderful at describing the scenery and how it makes her feel. She goes off on tangeants as well about stuff that has nothing to do with walking and I can’t of enjoy that as well. I am listening now and she is going off on a story about Daphne Du Maurier!I am almost halfway now.

What did I recently finish reading?

Since last Wednesday I finished Eucalyptus (Murray Bail), which was wonderfully odd, and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, which was the equivalent of a soap opera, but mighty enjoyable.

 

What do I think I will read next? 

Not sure. Knife of Dreams is a 800-page epic fantasy, so I may pick up something contemporary alongside it. Maybe Tin Man (Sarah Winman) or Home Fire (Kamila Shamsie).

Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan)

Kwan, Kevin - Crazy Rich Asians

★★★★★☆☆

Title: Crazy Rich Asians
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary   Pages: 527
First published: 2013
Edition: Kindle e-book

The outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

I had a fun time with this novel, which in a way is as tragic as it is amusing. It is basically a soap opera about the ultrarich in Singapore and as long as you go along with that it is a good read. I knew what I was getting myself into and it pretty much was what I wanted it to be, which is light entertainment in book form.

I enjoyed the characters and the way the author describes people it was easy to picture them, even without too many specifics. It dug deep enough when it came to our main characters and their circumstances.

The way the author changed point of view from one paragraph to the next irked me somewhat, and though it did not ruin the book for me, I would have preferred it to be  better structured.

As long as you just want a piece of fun light reading, I think you will enjoy this, like I did. This is not a high brow sort of novel, but it is a hell of a fun ride. It would make a great holiday read.

I probably will read the other books in this series at some point, when I need a fun light read.

5 out of 7 stars

Books · Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary: 1 September 2019

Man, I can’t believe August is over. My daughter is back at school tomorrow and we have to get back to some sort of routine, which is going to be tricky!

READING

I finished two books this past week, which were Riders (Veronica Rossi) and Eucalyptus (Murray Bail). I meant to finish another book, A Polar Affair (Lloyd Spencer Davis) over the weekend, but in the end I just did not read that much. Also, it is a non-fiction book and though I am finding it really interesting, I was having trouble reading lots of it in one go. I kept putting it down. So, I started Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan alongside it for some light relief.

I haven’t listened to any of my audiobook this past week, which is Walking Home (Clare Balding), but I am hoping to listen to that whilst I am doing some chores over the coming week.

TV

We have been watching Years and Years. I am still not sure how I feel about that show! We also watched the first episode of The Dark Crystal, which I really did not like that much. I don’t know why, but the puppets just freaked me out a bit!

OTHER

We went to some monkey zoo last Monday, which was a lot of fun. It was a very hot day, but the park was shady and we felt quite relaxed walking around between free-range monkeys. Our favourite animal there was a sloth – they are so cute!!! On Tuesday my daughter had a tent/barbeque party for her friends, which despite my abysmal organisation skills was a success. She was very happy!

monkey

Yesterday I joined a friend for a training session with my old foal Moon. I had to sell him when his mother turned out to be in foal again (we did not know she was when we bought her and Moon). Moon is now a yearling and already pretty much bombproof. At the training session (which was in the dark) he had to deal with smoke machines, lights, a see saw and much more and he hardly batted an eyelid. Good boy!

His new owner let me go around with him. Here we are at te wind machine! 🙂