Friday, 30 April 2010

Serial Anticipations for Summer 2010

May 2010
1 The Importance of Being Seven (44 Scotland Street 6) - Alexander McCall Smith
At long last!  The latest book instalment of the charming 44 Scotland Street serial.  The last book was published in 2008 (eek!).  This is my favourite McCall Smith series so I have been bereft for a while.  I am really looking forward to reading this in the (hopefully) sunny May days ahead.

June 2010
10 Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse 10) - Charlaine Harris
I am a little ashamed to admit that I actually enjoyed the popular American TV series True Blood, which were based on these novels.  I say ashamed as I was quite shocked at the excessive and gratuitous sex scenes and constant profanity used (which annoys me greatly), however the storyline was highly addictive and I persevered through all two seasons of the series.  I have been informed by fans of the novels that there are great differences between the TV series and the books themselves so last year I purchased the first book... but gave up reading it after 60 or so pages.  Somehow the first-person narrative did not click with me and I get bored if I am aware of the story line in advance.  However, I will try again as the TV series will take a while to spin out 10 books and it has already strayed from the originals (not to mention that I can only stand so much use of the F-word before my ears rust and my brain explodes!). 

Did anyone else watch the TV series or read the novels?

July 2010
1 A Colourful Death (Cornish Mystery 2) - Carola Dunn
The second instalment in Carola Dunn's newest mystery series set in a Cornwall reminiscent of the 60s.  I have added this to the list to see how the series develops... A short review of the first book will be up soon.
5 The God of the Hive (Mary Russell 10) - Laurie R. King
I became interested in the premise of this series a couple of years ago and have the first three instalments sitting on my shelves.  Sherlock Holmes... retired and married to a young lady who is his equal in intelligence and in the art of detection... and she is the hero of the piece... sounded promising.   I was thrilled to see that Laurie R. King has continued adding to this series (she writes at least one other mystery series) as these books have received very enthusiastic reviews.

29 Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess (Blotto and Twinks 2) - Simon Brett
The second in a new comical mystery series by Sussex-based author Simon Brett.  I am a fan of his Fethering mysteries and love the Mrs Pargeter series too so thought I might look into this one.  Simon Brett likes to add dollops of humour and wit to his mysteries and this one promises to have a more liberal dose.

September 2010

2 Blameless (Parasol Protectorate 3) - Gail Carriger
Ah, those pesky vampires again!  I have just finished the first in the Parasol Protectorate series (love that name!) and have ordered the second so very happy to see that a third is not far away.  Like the Sooky Stackhouse/True Blood series, this involves vampires and werewolves who live openly among mortals but it is set in an alternate version of the Victorian era.  It is funny, fantastic, clever and has sprinklings of romance thrown in.  I hope the sequels hold the momentum and originality that I enjoyed in the first novel.

2 The Charming Quirks of Others (Isabel Dalhousie 7) - Alexander McCall Smith
As usual, Mr McCall Smith continues to conjure up three or four novels a year to the delight of his fans.  This is the next instalment in the Isabel Dalhousie novels that are sent in Edinburgh and have a large philosophical bent.  Indeed, a great part of these novels engage us in the moral musings and philosophical pontificating that Isabel (philosopher and editor) is prone to... all executed in a charming and gracious, gentle manner.  I have a couple of books to read in this series before I am up to date.

Are there any series that you follow and are anticipating reading this Summer (or Winter if you're in the Southern hemisphere)?  Please let me know as I always like to add promising series to my TBR list.  I find that there is something warm, comforting and a little exciting about looking forward to a new book release and immersing myself once again in the company of well-loved characters and settings.

Monday, 26 April 2010

A Cupcake, A Latte and a Lot of Sun

Saturday: Enjoying a vegan cupcake and latte on the balcony of the elegant 30's De La Warr Pavilion building in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Snapshot Sunday

A display with foxes in a garden centre in South Africa.  My apologies for the size of the photo but my mobile camera loves to play tricks on me and reset the resolution when I'm not looking!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Persephone in Spring: The Biannually has Arrived!

The postman has just delivered the latest Persephone Biannually on this beautiful, sunny Spring day and the cover is fitting.  Included was a charming bookmark to match the book Dimanche and Other Stories by Irène Némirovsky.

As you may already know, the two books for Spring/Summer 2010 are that mentioned above as well as Still Missing by Beth Gutcheon.  Being a knitting enthusiast, I also adore the bookmark for Still Missing which is a closeup of a sophisticated-looking ribbed knit.  The Persephone Books website reveals that they will be publishing another Monica Dickens novel in Autumn/Winter as well as the very first Persephone diary!   Entitled The Persephone Ninety, it will feature the ninety endpapers along with details of each and the first line of each book.  I'm tempted, very tempted...

A quick perusal of the Biannually reveals a number of interesting articles and tidbits such as information and reviews of the two Spring/Summer books and the short story Dimanche. There is also an article about the Blitz and a piece about a Norwegian island.  As usual, the magazine is punctuated by gorgeous and colourful pictures from the period and plenty of reviews including blog reviews from my favourite bloggers. 

Of particular interest is the news that the Persephone Forum will be launched on the 1st June and the first book up for discussion will be William - an Englishman, followed by Mariana in July.  The forum sounds like a wonderful opportunity to interact with other like-minded readers and to exchange views and opinions on each book in the Persephone line.

I'm looking forward to Persephone Week, although I may only be able to contribute for part of the week as it falls upon my birthday.  I'm off to enjoy the sunshine and sip a cup of freshly-picked mint tea with my Persephone...  I hope you have received yours (or will do soon) and will enjoy it too.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Still Here!

My apologies for the latest silence!  I am still here and back in the UK... blogging will resume very soon.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Dig In and Grow Your Own

I was happy to note that the Grow Your Own 'movement' that began last year has continued into 2010 and is being embraced by more businesses and individuals.  Last year, I succeeded in growing delicious tomatoes, runner beans, strawberries and spring onions.  This was my first proper foray into Grow Your Own (I had previously grown baby tomatoes years ago on a tiny scale) and I thoroughly enjoyed it (bar a few worries about whether I watered too much or too little).  I also planted radishes, carrots, and beetroot but they were miniscule and underdeveloped due to ignorance on my part (and too tight a spot for the carrots).  The garlic I planted became poorly so I shall try again this year along with potatoes, more tomatoes and onions, various herbs, beans, carrots and more.  I look forward to really digging in and tucking in!

I missed out on the BBC's Dig In campaign for free seeds last year but I was informed yesterday by a friend that my seeds for 2010 had arrived!  Here is a photo of some of the seeds I planted last month... they are growing strong but it is all a learning curve for me (thanks to a kind friend who is watering in my absence!).  I shall have a load of seeds to plant when I return - both crops and flowers and wild flowers for our bee and butterfly population.

For anyone in the UK who may be interested, you're still in time to request the Dig In seeds if you fill out your details here.  Be quick as they ran out of seeds very early last time.  Hopefully you'll get your pack (with 5 different veggies) within three weeks as I did mine.  If you have never done this before, this is a perfect way to learn and to try your hand at growing something you can eat... it's true: it does taste so much better if you grow it yourself!

Another bit of good Grow Your Own news is that there is a new programme due on BBC2 next Wednesday with gardener Alys Fowler entitled The Edible Garden.  The description sounds promising and involves an interesting way of weaving in food crops with flowers and roses.

Are you trying your hand at growing your own this year?  Or are you an experienced gardener who delights in growing tasty crops?  If you're outside the UK... does your country run similar campaigns?  I'd love to hear from you as I find this quite exciting and my aim is to gradually become more self-sufficient, healthier and more knowledgeable about the food that I eat.