What happens when you take unintended breaks, even though short, from blogging? For me, it is a feeling of being overwhelmed...and divided about what to do next. I have been reading--but not reviewing and not crafting--and still getting behind on most of the mundane things we must to do to keep life in a semblance of order.
Spent the past week in the country with a changing array of family and friends and, of course, the usual overabundance of good food. Came home apathetic.
Too long out of my routine, with no desire to think about the upcoming Christmas holiday and decorations and barely interested in keeping up with laundry. Others have their trees up, gifts bought and wrapped, and are planning menus for Christmas parties. Well, I'm never there, but usually I'm at least thinking about getting the tree out and considering what needs to be done to make ready for the decorations before actually getting into motion.
This year, I'm stuck with my nose in a book trying to avoid all of the practicalities and necessities that require thinking or effort! I'm giving it one more day, then hope to get back to a more energetic, active life.
Some quick reviews of neglected November books:
Dragon Trials by Ava Richardson. A quick read that will appeal to the younger end of YA readers. Enjoyable, but with nothing that lifts it above the ordinary YA fantasy. Might make a good gift for a young reader who likes dragons, adventure, and a slow-growing friendship. Dragon Trials may be one of those books that sets the stage for a series that grows in depth and interest.
YA Fantasy. Nov. 7, 2015. Print length: 203 pages.
Amberwell by D. E. Stevenson is a quiet story of the Ayrton family, especially of the five siblings, in the years between the world wars. The beginning is a bit slow as the history of the Ayrton family and Amberwell is recounted, but with a deft hand, Stevenson creates the world of an upper class family, the small dramas, the conflicts, and the connection of the children. There is never a great deal of action; small incidents are important for most of the book. Stevenson concentrates on the characters, life on a beloved family estate in Scotland, on a time and place where a way of life is still undergoing changes from the first world war, then must face even more as WWII approaches.
I liked it, but the slow pace and lack of action will put some readers off.
Family Saga. First published in 1955; 2015. Print length: 248 pages.
The Silence of Stones: A Crispin Guest Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson is set in 1388 during the reign of King Richard II. So, naturally, there is going to be some peripheral association with John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, and Richard's uncle. Gaunt is going to be a part of any English history during the late 1300's, but it is Katherine Swynford (Gaunt's mistress, and eventually, his wife) who plays an important role in Westerson's novel.
I read the first Crispin Guest novel in 2011 and enjoyed it, but I did think it a bit dark, so I found it interesting that the series is now considered medieval noir. I read the first novel, and The Silence of Stones is the 8th in the series--so much for keeping up.
Brief plot outline: The Stone of Destiny is stolen, King Richard enlists Guest's services to find and recover it. The King, who justifiably, hates Guest has imprisoned Jack Tucker. If Guest does not recover the Stone in 3 days, Jack Tucker will be executed.
I like medieval mysteries, and I enjoy seeing the way different authors view the powerful characters of the times, their views of events and political maneuvering. The 1300's are particularly popular among medieval mystery authors, and each one gives his or her own imaginative take on kings, archbishops, regents, wives, mistresses.
My view of Katherine Swynford was formed years ago by Anya Seton's Katherine, so having Westerson give Katherine an important role in the novel appealed to me.
Medieval Mystery. Feb. 1, 2016. Print length: 240 pages.
The above books are all ARCs from NetGalley, but the next one came in the mail.
I've read and enjoyed several books by Juliet Marillier, but I've not read The Dreamer's Pool which is the book that precedes Tower of Thorns. Although I was curious about some of the details in the first in the series, Tower of Thorns works as a stand-alone.
Skillfully written with a kind of amalgamating of myths and fairy tales, the book follows Blackthorn the healer and her companion Grim on a quest to aid the Lady Geileis, who seeks to end the curse of the monster in the tower of thorns. A monster who is trapped moaning and wailing all day each day in a way that disturbs the entire countryside in dreadful ways. Everyone feels his agony and finds both their physical lives and mental health threatened.
But just as Lady Geileis keeps secrets and refuses to reveal all the information Blackthorn might require to end the curse, Marillier makes use of the partial reveal--over and over. While I liked Blackthorn, I never felt completely engaged by her character. Grim, on the other hand, gained my sympathy and respect.
I had no trouble sticking with book, but found myself feeling manipulated by the oft hinted threats and a lack of attachment to Geileis and Ash. The elements that kept me from enjoying this as much as Marillier's other books would be spoilers.
Fantasy. Nov., 2013. 439 pages.