I’m Back

I’m dusting off my blog because I may use it for an upcoming Read-A-Thon.

I cannot believe the last time I wrote here was in February, what a failing on my part! But where has that time gone?

I’ve been working a lot in the garden, this being the first full year I’ve had the greenhouse, so, to make up for so few entries, I’ll post some photos instead….

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So, that’s about all for now, but I’ll try not to be so long in updating next time, especially if I do have a go at the Read-A-Thon.

Tis Friday Again (It Comes Around So Quickly!)

1. I learned the value of backing things up when in a horrible moment my computer, after downloading updates showed nothing but a blank screen for ages. As I anxiously sat watching it, willing it to come back to life, all I could think about was the 25+ pages of writing that I HADN’T BACKED UP!! Needless to say, the moment the computer came back on the very first thing I did was locate a memory stick and back up those files. It’s horrible, losing something when you’ve put a lot of time into it.

2. The weather is finally getting better, and I cannot wait to get started on the garden and greenhouse this year, because I’ll have a whole season at it this time. My greenhouse was only put up in June last year, so I’d missed a lot of growing time for my seeds. This time I’ll be moth ahead of that. Just need it get a little bit warmer before I start spending great amounts of time out there.

3. I’m back on the Dark Tower again. Book 5, Wolves Of The Calla, is really holding my attention. I read something else in between 4.5 and 5,l and it just didn’t hold up. I had to will myself to get on and pick the book up, which isn’t good. I wondered whether I was just having an ‘off’ spell, as can happen with any hobby, but as soon as I picked up this latest book my enthusiasm has come back with a vengeance.

4. My car’s at the garage again – it’s been there so often it will soon be able to auto-navigate there by itself! Luckily this time is just for a service, and it’s only just a year old, so there shouldn’t be anything much wrong (famous last words!)

5. Almost the weekend everyone – hang in there, just a few hours to go!!

Books 4 & 5 – The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore and Step Back In Time by Ali McNamara

4.  The Greatcoat – Helen Dunmore – finished 27/01/14

In 1950s Yorkshire, doctor’s wife Isabel finds an old greatcoat in a cupboard and uses it to keep warm at night.  She awakes to find a man looking in through the window, who seems to be saying her name.
This is billed as a ghost story, and in a way it is, but for me it was more ghostly romance than anything genuinely creepy.  The story follows the growing relationship between Isabel and Alec, who seem to exist together in another time, as we also see Isabel with her husband Phillip.
It wasn’t a bad story, but I didn’t find myself particularly drawn in either.

Rating – 3/5

5. Step Back In Time – Ali McNamara – finished 28/01/14

After being hit by a car Jo-Jo wakes up and finds herself in 1963. Not knowing whether it is real or a dream, Jo-Jo encounters several people he knows from her real life, and soon believes there are certain things she must accomplish in order to return to her own time. Just as things seem to be taking shape, she is hit by a car again, at exactly the same site of her initial accident, and this time she wakes up in the 70s. Again, the same familiar people are present, albeit in different guises. Each time it seems Jo-Jo is on the right track she has another accident, and each time she wakes up in a new time period – from the 60s right through to the 90s, and finally back to the present time where, having finally learned through her travels what is important, she embarks on a new path in life.

This was an enjoyable, light read. The Beatles and their hits are heavily referenced throughout, and I must admit a lot of this was probably lost on me, as I’ve never really been a big fan; I’ve never disliked them, but never been into them either. I got some of the more obvious references, but did feel some of it was probably passing me by, not that that took too much away from the enjoyment of the read. Strangely enough, just like Jo-Jo, I did find myself getting a Beatles Greatest Hits album as I read more of this book, so who knows, maybe after this I’ll become a fan?

Rating – 3/5

My Noisy Week

1. Why is it that the moment you decide to start a diet, you feel absolutely ravenous?!? ALL THE TIME! I decided this week I would try and cut down for a week or two. You know, you have that point at which you feel that you really shouldn’t put on any more weight because your clothes feel just that little bit too tight? I’m almost at that point, so want to make an effort for a couple of weeks. It’s so hard, with the temptation of so much chocolate still around from Christmas, but I will try.

2. I just finished reading The Wizard And Glass, book 4 of The Dark Tower by Stephen King. There’s definitely going to be a full, long entry about this book, but I’ll just say for now that I absolutely loved it. The Dark Tower is turning out to be a brilliant series.

3. It’s been like a building site outside the house all week. I think they’re doing work to replace some cables or other, so the road is being dug up and it’s all SO noisy. The workmen don’t arrive every day, and that’s the only time there’s any peace. It’s usually a really quiet area, so that makes the noise seem even worse. I’ll be glad when it’s done and they’re gone.

4. Just started watching American Horror Story Asylum. As with the first series during the first episode I sat there thinking “what the hell is this? What’s going on?” and wondered whether to carry on with it, but by the end I was drawn in yet again, even though it’s probably by far the weirdest thing I watch. Jessica Lange is very good as Sister Jude, and a couple of other actors from the first series are in this one too.

5. I watched a Youtube video on hair braiding and have learned how to do a new style of braid in my own hair. I think it would be easier to have someone else to practice on, but, failing that, I’m making do with trying it out on myself. I don’t often do anything at all in the way of hair styles, but I’ve seen people with their hair braided that way and thought it looked nice, but very difficult. As it turns out, once you know what you’re doing, it’s quite easy.

Is It Friday Again Already?

1. I’ve started borrowing downloadable audio books from the library. I can listen to them whilst doing my cross stitching, which is really relaxing. The first one I borrowed was a bit of a letdown, because it just wasn’t a story that captured me at all, so I returned it and tried something else, which I’m now really enjoying, so I can see this becoming a regular thing.

2. I gave up watching Elementary. I watched the first few episodes, but it got quite samey, so when I found out there were 6 dvds in the series I decided to quit before I’d invested too much time and felt obliged to watch the whole lot. I started season 2 of Revenge instead; have only watched the first ep, but I think I’ll stick with it. Also saw a trailer for Once Upon A Time. I have no idea how I’ve never seen this series because it looks like something I would really be into, so I may get that next.

3. I’m still reading Wizard And Glass. It’s a great story. I love Cuthbert and Alain, and am so involved with their story that every so often it suddenly hits me that it mustn’t end well for them, as Roland is telling his new ka-tet the story of his past, and Cuthbert and Alain are no longer around. Not good.

4. I need some work doing on my car. I’ve shopped around for prices, and have gone from almost £700 to £260!! How can that even be?!?! It’s mad – the same car, the same work, and yet such a massive difference in price. I must admit, when that first price estimate came through my heart sank a little, so I was very pleased to get the lower estimate.

5. Despite the freezing cold and pouring rain I ventured down to the greenhouse to see how the plants in there are getting on. I have a potted hydrangea and was really pleased to see it’s got fresh green shoots already. Everything else looks healthy too. Urgh, I really hate not being able to mess around in the garden. I will be so glad when the winter weather is done with and the nights start drawing out again.

A Thing For Bowie And King

Back again for another long-overdue attempt at a journal entry. I really don’t mean to leave it so long between writings, but somehow it always happens. I thinks it’s because there’s not that much new to report.

Am still very much into all things David Bowie and am getting quite a collection of his albums now. I was really surprised to find out my boss is actually a massive fan. We were talking about his music, and the albums I’ve got, and he offered to loan me his copies of some of the ones I don’t have yet. Of all the things I expected, bonding with C over David Bowie was actually pretty low down the list! It makes me smile, thinking about it, because we’ve not really had that much common ground before. I’m pretty envious that he’s been to a fair few Bowie concerts (is it concerts, or gigs? I have no idea?!) over the years.
The album I’m listening to at the moment is Diamond Dogs. I love it. I read that some of the songs were intended for a musical version of 1984, but that it never happened. I think that’s a great shame, because the songs are so good, I’m sure there would have been a place for a show like that. Still, at least we get the, on this album. It’s also made me think I really should get around to reading 1984, because I’ve had it sitting on my shelves for years and yet I never seem to get around to it.

I read two really good books. The first was Police by Jo Nesbo. The latest in the Harry Hole series picks up after Phantom, which was a bit confusing because over here the first book in the series, The Bat, was released in between Phantom and Police, so it’s been a very long time since I read Phantom and I couldn’t recall it all that well.
That didn’t take away from my enjoyment of Police though and I was soon totally engrossed in it. Police are being murdered at the scenes of old unsolved crimes, and Harry Hole has to take on the role of investigator again to help catch the killer before any more murders are committed. It’s fast paced, and keeps you guessing until almost the very end.

The second book I really enjoyed was Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I recently read The Shining, in preparation for this sequel, and was glad that I did. I think you could probably read Doctor Sleep without having read The Shining first, but I do think you get a better understanding of Dan and how he’s been affected by his childhood, which also gives the ending a little more impact. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s a good read.

Am still on a Stephen King season, having now started reading The Dark tower. I read the first book, The gunslinger, about a year ago. I don’t know why I didn’t carry on with the series then, I suppose I got sidetracked with something else, but anyway, I decided to reread the Gunslinger before moving on. I’m now reading The Drawing Of The Three. I’m really enjoying reading how Roland and Eddie first meet, and Odetta/Detta is an interesting character too.

I’ve packed up most of my garden things now, for the winter. I’m looking forward to getting started with my next lot of seed planting, because now I have the greenhouse and everything is there ready and waiting, I’ll have much more time in which to grow my plants. I was very late starting this year, having to get the garden sorted out before I could get my greenhouse. Still, what I did grow turned out okay and gave me some confidence about what I’m doing.

Aside

I’m back for a bit more writing, as it seems a while since I last wrote anything.

I’ve been out in the garden again, mostly just digging out the plants which are dying off and tidying up for the end of the season. It seems to have flown by, but that’s because I was late in getting my greenhouse and getting started. Next time I will start planting my seeds nice and early, give them longer to get established.
I’ve also taken down some of my solar lights, because the days are getting shorter now, and the weather is worse, so they’re not really charging up enough anymore. If they come on at all it’s only very briefly.

I was talking to a lady I work with, and apparently her dad used to grow cacti. She said they were quite easy to grow, and I’ve seen some seeds, so I might get a pack and have a go at those too next time.
She also said her dad grew bonsai trees, and had quite a collection of them, which I was interested in as dad has decided he’d like a bonsai tree. I wanted to know if they were easy to care for, which she assures me they are, so it looks like that might be the next addition to the plant collection.

I had a good trip to the library at the weekend, and got the new Dexter novel, which I’m reading now, Dexter’s Final Cut. It’s good so far. I also got the new Jo Nesbo, Police, which I’ll read next. I requested Doctor Sleep by Stephen King as well, but that one hadn’t arrived, which is probably a good thing because all these books have other requests on them, so I won’t be able to renew them, and there is no way I could get through three books in three weeks, not at the pace I’m reading at the moment.

I got another couple of David Bowie albums too – The Platinum Collection and Hunky Dory. It’s funny, some of the songs on Platinum Collection I’m finding myself thinking ‘I had no idea he sung that’. The song I’ve got on repeat at the moment is Absolute Beginners. I love it.

I’ve started watching Hannibal. It’s really good, but I’m trying not to look up anything about it on the internet because the series has already finished to no doubt there will be spoilers all over the place, and I always manage to spoil myself. Am also trying to avoid spoilers for the last series of Dexter, which I’m waiting for on dvd.

And that’s about it, I think, for now!

Of Music And Books

I’ve just read Under The Dome. I’ve had this book on my TBR pile for absolutely ages, but knowing the tv series was starting finally made me get round to reading it. I don’t know now whether I did the right thing, because they’ve made quite a lot of changes in the series and the book is still so recent in my mind that I find these changes really distracting. It’s almost like a totally unrelated story, which is strange, because there’s nothing wrong with the story at all.

The book is very good. I think Stephen King writes really good characters, and there is no shortage of them here, good and evil. It’s a really long book, and yet it never felt like it dragged on too long.
The final section really bought to life the claustrophobic effect of the Dome, and the end for one particular character drew on this same feeling which I thought gave a horribly fitting demise. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Next up, I’m reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, which has just been short listed for the Man Booker Prize. If it wins, it will probably be the first prize winner I’ve read, so here’s hoping! Another very long book, it’s really engrossing. The plot is tightly woven and intricate. Some books you can skim read and get the message, this one, definitely not. I find myself absorbing every single word. There are several character viewpoints, all seem to be involved with each other in ways which are only unravelled as the book progresses, so you’re always wondering what’s going to happen next.
I’m more than half way through, and I think the second half is a slightly quicker read than the first, which deals with past events leading up to a certain point, then the narrative continues in the present time.
It’s really good.

Never one to just have one book on the go , I’m also reading The Shining (yes, more Stephen King, I think I might be a bit of a fan!). I’ve wanted to read this for a while, and the upcoming release of the sequel, Doctor Sleep, seemed the perfect excuse to get going on it. I love the atmosphere of the creepy hotel; it’s creepy even before the snow comes to cut off the Torrance family from the outside world. Can’t wait to see what happens.

In other news, I seem to becoming a David Bowie fan. It all started after I watched Labyrinth. I loved the soundtrack so much that I wanted to hear other things he’d sung. I can’t believe I hadn’t been more aware of him before, but somehow I hadn’t. Anyway, that’s all changing now, and I’m getting a bit of a collection of his albums.
So far I have Reality, The Next Day, Heathen and The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust. Yes, I still have a long way to go, but that’s the great thing about finding something new to enjoy, especially from someone with so much of a back catalogue. Another rare thing, I can listen to whole albums and find myself listening to every track, rather than skipping through, which I tend to do with most people.
I’m listening to The Next Day as I’m writing now. It’s really good.

A Sunny Afternoon

Seems like ages since my last update.

I finished a really good book, The Passage by Justin Cronin. It’s been compared to The Stand by Stephen King. Much as I do love Stephen King, I’d say The Passage is the better of the two books. For me, The Stand got to a point where it petered out. The Captain Trips outbreak was more scary than anything that came afterwards, and made up the better part of the book. I did enjoy it, but sometimes it seemed overly long.
The Passage retained my interest throughout, and left me anxious to get on with the sequel, The Twelve, as soon as I can. It’s a book of two halves, literally. The first sees the creation of the Twelve, criminals given a virus which is supposed to make them super-human soldiers. It doesn’t go as hoped and they become ‘virals’; vampire-like creatures who escape containment and wreak havoc. Part one ends with carnage as the virals escape into the world.
Part two takes place years after these events, when life as we know it is no more, and a small colony of humans try to survive, not knowing whether they are the only ones left. There are some really good characters in this section of the book, and I can’t wait to see how their stories develop in the next book.

Now I’m reading book 2 in The Wheel Of Time series, The Great Hunt. After that I’m wondering whether for something totally different I should try either Fifty Shades Of Grey or Bared To You. I’ve heard mixed comments about Fifty; one friend hated it and didn’t even bother to finish it, another enjoyed it but wouldn’t read the rest, and my auntie was so engrossed with it she burned the dinner because she couldn’t tear herself away from it!! I’ve never heard any comments about Bared To You.
After that its back to some Stephen King. I’m going to read The Shining because there’s a sequel out quite soon, and I also want to read Under The Dome as it’s been made into a tv series.

The garden project is complete now. My little rockery area was transformed from that messy nothingness into this…

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I’ve added some of the plants I’ve grown from seed there as well. I’m loving watching them grow, because when I started out I had no idea what I was doing and was doubtful I’d have any success.
I’ve transplanted my pansies into small trays as well. When they’re bigger I’m going to put them into tubs to add a bit of colour to the garden. I was looking at the seed packet and was surprised to see they’re hardy perennials. I always thought pansies were annuals.

The weather is glorious at the moment, so it’s nice being able to sit out relaxing and appreciating the garden, although there are still plenty of jobs to do.
My cat has taken to relaxing in the greenhouse during the day. He’s mad; it gets up to 35 degrees in there at times. It doesn’t seem to bother him though. I get him out and as soon as his paws hit the floor he just goes straight back in there and curls up again.

I think that’s about all for now. Am going to enjoy this sunshine while it lasts.