Category Archives: Thoughts and other Miscellany

Sunday Salon – Shopping

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As our Christmas presents this year, The Physicist and I agreed to go to a bookshop and splurge up to a pre-agreed limit. Santa also had a little shopping to be finalised. So off we toddled (very slowly, in my case!) to Waterstones Piccadilly. What we bought will be revealed in due course, but it was so much fun to spend £50 £65 totally guilt-free on books for myself, and P looked pretty happy with his haul too.

Which brings me to a question. What is your approach to a bookshop?

My approach is to head straight for the bookseller picks, the bestseller fiction, and then to the fiction section, focussing on litfic, crime and anything that I’ve seen mentions of recently that I’m particularly interested in. I’d picked out 8 books in 20 minutes, and then Santa was finished in another 15 minutes as well.

 

P’s approach is to make a bee-line for the sci-fi/fantasy section, find one book, and spend as long reading it as possible. When he’s finally dragged out of the bookshop (usually by my need for coffee), he’ll happily buy whatever it was that he’s just spent the last hour “browsing”, plus whatever else is to hand.

 

You?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Books of 2014

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Because Booking Through Thursday often doesn’t post until too late in the day for me (thanks to time differences), I have decided that on Thursdays I’ll either answer a Booking Through Thursday question or a Top Ten Tuesday question (the latter are run on The Broke and The Bookish blog), although I might let myself stop at 5 rather than going all the way to a list of 10! This week’s:

December 16: Top Ten Books I Read In 2014 (Overall, By A Particular Genre, 2014 Releases)

In order of when I read them (from oldest to most recent) – and quite a few with missing reviews…:

1. The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared

2. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

3. Americanah

4. At Large And At Small

5. A Week in December

6. Let The Great World Spin

7. My Salinger Year

8. How It All Began

9. Anne’s House of Dreams

10. Cocaine Blues

Recent DNFs – ARCs

A couple of review copies whic haven’t made the cut recently…

Spying in High Heelsby Gemma Halliday – I was about 20 pages into this when I had to give up on it. So much drama in

Dear Committee Membersby Julie Schumacher – about which I have only seen good things online! But I wasn’t grabbed by this, it felt very small and negative.

The Ascendantby Alethia Crowe – this sounded like Gods Behaving Badly and I was very excited about reading it, and then I read the first 20 pages and was totally confused. There was a priest in ancient Greece being robbed/killed, and some revisionist backstory about the Greek gods, and… I just didn’t get it.

The Stud Book by Monica Drake – this was perhaps an unwise choice for me given current events in the RWT household, but I got about 60 pages into this and decided I’d had enough. The characters were too exaggerated for me, too concentrated on one aspect (their reproductive abilities). Out it went.

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The Sunday Salon – Slowly slowly

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You know how everyone says “how is it December already?”? For me, this week, it’s “how is this my last week at work before maternity leave already?”! Yes, I feel like I’m the size of a whale (with 2 months still to go!), baby RWT is clearly practicing wriggling into the most comfortable reading position, and I’m totally over commuting by public transport (even though this nifty badge normally gets me a seat…), but where did the last 6 months go???

baby on board badge

I’ve managed to hand over almost all my clients already, just got a bit of admin left on a few (like the invoices that have been sitting in my inbox for Quite A While needing sorting out) and a few sets of financial statements to get signed, and we’re done. Phew. I am starting to feel like I might do this on my last day at work though…

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The work Christmas party last week was fun – arriving just in time for food rather than for the drinking beforehand (there’s nothing 7-month-pregnant teetotallers enjoy more than standing around watching other people get drunk, and getting very hungry…) meant the only seat left was at the “kids’ end” of the table with our 2nd and 3rd years, where I actually had a great time. It probably helps that I’m only 2-3 years older than most of them.

I’m so nearly done with Christmas shopping, having managed to organise or share Christmas presents for the Physicist’s family (which is big) – last present was ordered this morning and will be in the post in a few days. My own family, which is much smaller, is somewhat more challenging! But as long as Mini-Me answers my email with a logistical query SOON (hint hint in case she’s reading this!), we’re all set. The other thing I’ve learnt is that I thought it would be really easy and comfortable to sit on the floor and wrap Christmas presents (the way I always do) because there would be plenty of space for the bump. Wow was I wrong about that.

wrong

(I might have to sit there in my wrongness. Then hoist myself up in search of TV and an episode of West Wing.)

It being my last few days at work, reviewing has taken a bit of a hit! There’s a pile of books that I keep carrying upstairs to review on the sofa, then carrying back down to the study a few days later when I decide to be productive there instead… Never mind. That’s what Christmas holidays are for, right?

Oh and the other thing that has got in the way of my reviewing has been some PAID translation work… I’m putting a little bit more effort (i.e. a non-zero amount) into my translation business and trying to pick up a bit of work and make some contacts, now that I will have some time off before baby RWT arrives. So yesterday I translated 4000 words of a transcribed charity focus group while watching the cricket. Why someone wanted the exact transcription is beyond me, but hey, if they were willing to pay me…

I’m looking forward to our watch-along of the 1990s Little Women film tonight as part of Advent with Alcott – you’ll be able to find Iris, Ana, Alex and me watching it at 5.30pm (UK time) on Twitter at @irisonbooks, @nymeth, @thesleeplessreader and of course @readingwithtea – we’ll probably be using #awalcott as our tag.

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Also, it’s that time of year when Australia is playing Test cricket in the middle of the UK night and I get a little bit obsessed (and therefore talk about cricket here A LOT). One of the reasons we shell out for Sky TV is to be able to watch the overnight cricket (including on the iPad without getting out of bed…), and record it to enjoy at a more sociable hour. This week was the first Test between Australia and India in the current series, and at 6am on Saturday morning (with 90 minutes left in a 5 day match), I was on the sofa with breakfast, coffee and mobile phone in hand, frantically texting The Book Accumulator (who at least was in the right timezone for the cricket) with score updates as the possible outcomes veered back and forth between Australia, India, a draw or even a tie. Thankfully our off-spinner (who I have discovered is only 3 days older than me) came good and spun his way through the last of the Indian resistance to give Australia a narrow win. At which point I could go back to bed for a few hours. But it was tense. And this is what we cricket tragics love about Test cricket – it can go on for 5 days and be totally gripping in the last hours.

Having then caught up on my sleep, it was time to catch up on the cricket that I’d missed during the week by being either at work or asleep. Foolish. So I spent yesterday on the sofa, watching the recorded cricket at “live” speed (i.e. not highlights) while I did the translation. I’ve caught up to the middle of day 3. Given that there are fewer total days of international cricket in a year than there are days in a year, the Rower was suggesting I could manage to watch every single ball of international cricket in 2015. I’m tempted to give it a shot but I fear it might lead to cricket burnout.

And of course this match was particularly emotional being the first after the tragedy of Phillip Hughes’ death in a freak accident. On the first day it felt a bit over-egged, all the tributes and highlights and the batsmen’s reactions to every milestone, but I get it. And the applause for the news that Sean Abbott, the bowler who will forever be known as the one who bowled That Ball to Hughes, was back on the field and taking wickets for New South Wales, was genuine and good to see.

Smith tribute

Oh one more thing, my baby cousin (who is 18) has been picked as the development rookie for the Sydney Sixers… which means he gets to train with them all the time (and there are some serious heroes of ours in that team) and that my Big Bash allegiances are set for this season. OK, enough about cricket for this week. There’s more next week.

Top Ten Tuesday – New-to-me authors in 2014

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Because Booking Through Thursday often doesn’t post until too late in the day for me (thanks to time differences), I have decided that on Thursdays I’ll either answer a Booking Through Thursday question or a Top Ten Tuesday question (the latter are run on The Broke and The Bookish blog), although I might let myself stop at 5 rather than going all the way to a list of 10! This week’s:

December 9: Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

1. Jonas Jonasson. I read and loved both The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of The Window And Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of SwedenI need him to write some more, and quickly.

2. Anna Dean – Bellfield Hall was very enjoyable and I’d happily read more of hers as well.

3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – I’ve owned Half of a Yellow Sun (I think in both paperback and audiobook form!) for several years now, but it was the release of Americanah that introduced me to Adichie. A slow start, but I ended up really enjoying it, and will definitely be looking out for more of her writing.

4. Sebastian Faulks – this was the year I finally read some Faulks. In June. And I still haven’t written the review. Which is probably a good indicator of how hard it is to write about A Week in December.

5. Barbara Rogan – A Dangerous Fiction was a good start. I’ll be interested to see what else she writes.

6. Francois Lelord – Hector and the Search for Happiness. I wasn’t impressed (review not yet written).

7. Colum McCann – Let The Great World Spin. I still haven’t reviewed this because like A Week in December, there’s just too much to write about.

8. Joan Didion – The Year of Magical Thinking – still not sure what I think about this one. I have to admit to not being in a huge hurry to read anything more of hers.

9. Joanna Rakoff – My Salinger Year. This was a NetGalley find, but I really enjoyed it.

10. Kerry Greenwood – Cocaine Blues and Flying Too High (not yet reviewed). I had talked about how I was keen to start the Phryne Fisher series, and when The German got me the first two books in the series for my birthday, I raced through them. Looking forward to getting into the rest of the series.

Books make the best gifts!

Foyles

Saw this yesterday on the Foyles website. A bit too cute to ignore!

Also – Foyles were the only online bookstore I could find that was willing to let me buy 3 books, and wrap them all together (as in, I was buying 3 books for the same person as a Christmas present and didn’t really want to give them 3 individually wrapped books, because that just looks silly). Amazon insisted on wrapping them individually and charging nearly £3/book to do so, Waterstones wouldn’t wrap anything. So well done Foyles!

The Sunday Salon – Final countdown…

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Two weeks left at work. Feels like forever and nowhere near enough time, simultaneously.

I’ve rejected quite a few books this week, so it’s not been a great week for reading; I finished The Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy (OK, not as funny as I thought it would be) and I am a fair way into Lizzy & Jane which I nearly gave up on in the first few pages but I persevered and am enjoying.

A couple of my friends have been doing these travel maps on Facebook and I thought I would give it a try. The number of countries is lower than I thought it would be, and that’s even with claiming UAE, Thailand and Malaysia where I am a connoisseur of their international airport but have barely set foot outside it! A couple of interesting omissions… New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, anywhere in Africa or South America…

Yvann’s Travel Map

 

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