16 Oct 2017

LIFE UNFINISHED.

LIFE UNFINISHED by MARTIN WHITE.

BACK COVER BLURB ...

Franz Schubert - genius and ladies' man ... or a composer whose dark secrets play out against the background of Metternich's police state.

FIRST SENTENCE ...


August 1797

It is a world full of woes.

- Part 1: Chapter 1 .. Cradle Song.

MEMORABLE MOMENT ...


He returns to his place in the score, where the opening is now repeated, but in shockingly varied form. Fortissimos speak an angry defiance at the doom which the music postulates, and the single solitary dotted figure takes on a new and sinister identity, self replicating into a serpent's tail of bitter obsession, disrupting the steady rhythm of the opening theme and its reply.

- Page 166

SOURCE ...

Having read/reviewed another of the author's books, To Catch The Conscience Of The King, I was delighted to accept a copy of this.

READ FOR ...

Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS ...

Shortlisted for the Daniel Goldsmith Associates First Novel Prize 2016 ...

Whilst I can't say I was drawn to the era nor indeed the characters of Life Unfinished in the same way I was with the author's To Catch The Conscience Of The King .. nothing to do with the book itself and everything to do with the fact that I simply have more of an interest in the period in which the latter  is set .. the very penmanship with which the author writes makes it a winner in my eyes.

A fictionalised account into the life of Franz Schubert. Whilst I cannot claim to know much about the man, such is the authority (and passion) with which Martin White writes that this is one of those books that feels authentic, that left me wondering just where fact ended and fiction began.

A novel in which you can really get into the character 'warts and all'. I was slightly concerned that it might be too musical an account. But, whilst we do get to experience Schubert's musicality, it was the insight into his life overall; his relationships, his sexuality, that kept me reading way past my bedtime.


13 Oct 2017

THE THINGS WE LEARN WHEN WE'RE DEAD.

THE THINGS WE LEARN WHEN WE'RE DEAD by CHARLIE LAIDLAW.

BACK COVER BLURB (May contain what is considered spoilers, please scroll over darkened text should you wish to read the synopsis. TT) On the way home from a dinner party she didn't want to attend, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.

It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident. Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that she needs to find a way home…

FIRST SENTENCE {END}: At the end of her Edinburgh street, where it joined a busier road, was a security camera perched high on a metal pole.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 135}: In her short acquaintance with God, Lorna could hardly have described him as cantankerous.

SOURCE: Received for review from the author.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: Way behind with my reading ... to say nothing of my reviewing of books ... I very nearly said thank you but no thank you when I was approached by the author but must admit to being intrigued by his email which stated ...


'Essentially it’s a modern reworking for an adult readership of The Wizard of Oz – how a young woman in tragic circumstances looks back at her life.'

Hmm, interesting! 

Personally, I'm not sure how well I made the connection between The Things We Learn When We're Dead and The Wizard of Oz and I certainly struggled to equate the Wizard of Oz's Dorothy with this books heroine, Lorna Love, a character who seemed almost masculine to the point where I did occasionally find myself wondering if perhaps the novel might have worked that bit better for me with a male protagonist.

Enough of my musings though.

The story of what happens when a young woman is killed after stepping out in front of a car only to find herself in what she first thinks to be Heaven.

Despite my worrying I was overthinking the connection re the book and The Wizard Of Oz; that there was something about the novel I just wasn't getting, despite a time line that jumped back and forth between earth and 'Heaven', despite the fact the chapters were in no sort of chronological order to the point where I did on occasion find myself, err, slightly losing the plot, essentially I thought it an enjoyable enough read ...

Quirky (what I'd describe as a hybrid of fantasy and sci-fi with a notable nod towards the Star Wars franchise), thought provoking (I did find myself wondering what those with more of a grasp on theology made of it) AND with some humour of the actual laugh out loud variety which isn't something I often find myself doing ... to say nothing of the hamsters.


11 Oct 2017

THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND'S LITTLE BOOK OF POISONS, POTIONS AND APHRODISIACS.

I've always wanted to visit Alnwick Gardens (its castle famous for the Harry Potter films) and so was delighted when two of the loveliest people who we have the good fortune to call friends took me and Mr T on a surprise outing to, yes, you guessed ... Alnwick Gardens where, a few narrow escapes in the mobility scooter aside, we had a lovely day.


THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND'S LITTLE BOOK OF POISONS, POTIONS AND APHRODISIACS by JANE, DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND. 

INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: Combining the fascinating archive of the first Duchess of Northumberland with the expertise of Jane, the present duchess and the creator of the famous Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle, this gift book contains a collection of wonderful medicinal recipes passed down through generations. The reader will learn the secrets of the poisonous and curative properties of these plants and the more unusual varieties that have been cultivated and planted for centuries, and will discover how ‘to make teethe whyte’ and how ‘to make heare growe’.

FIRST SENTENCE {EDITH BEALE'S BOOK OF RECIPES, 1576}: 

FOR SLEEPE

Tske the powder of white hemlock seede, the weight of iijoz and drincke it with white wine and ye shall sleepe naturall.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {PAGE 88/89}: 

For A SWELLINGE IN THE LEGGES OR FEETE AND TO DRAWE OUT THE WATER HUMOUR

Take vine leaves when they be grene and laye them one by another ordilie where the swellinge is and role them with a role of linnen clothe about the swellinge legge or foote and within the space of 29 howers ye shall see the clothe as wette as it had bene put in water with the moisture of the humours and no skinne shall breake or perishe.

SOURCE: Purchased from the Alnwick Garden shop.

READ FOR: Not applicable.

MY THOUGHTS: From the beautiful cover (which is not done justice to here) to the old English that is used. From the pretty purple borders, to the accompanying graphics, this wonderful little book gives a delightfully interesting and indeed informative glimpse into the remedies, poisons, portions and aphrodisiacs (our friends joked that if Mr T came into work with a smile on his face they knew I'd been trying these) of yesteryear ... many of them not nearly as strange as you might think ... making it an perfect gift for those with an interest in British plants and the uses to which they were put.


2 Oct 2017

WHEN ONE INCH IS ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN ME BEING AVERAGE.

TRACY, TRACEY, TRACIE ...

Whatever way you spell it, with what must be one of the most popular names amongst women of a certain age, the below graph certainly shows it spiking (at least in America) in the 1970's..



and standing at five foot three inches  (what I thought was the average height for a British women though, hurrah, a recent trawl of t'net seems to suggest that I'm wrong, its .... five foot four inches) anything that sets me apart - yes, even that one inch - has to be a good thing but a bed-warmer, really?

Listed here on Joey's blog as one of the top ten strangest jobs, the question is, able to command up to $69,762 (that's 53,926.72 pound sterling), can Mr T afford me?


If not I suppose there is always the professional queuer .... something us Brits are notoriously good at - the Visa Europe website claiming we spend 18 hours a year doing it, these guidelines on the Quora website instructing us just how its done, not that, the professional queuer that I am, I need any instructions.