A Song for the Dying

A Song for the DyingA Song for the Dying by Stuart MacBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t resist after the first Ash Henderson book going straight onto the second. This one opens with Ash in prison, unable to get out even though he’s been cleared of his brother’s murder, as every time he’s up for review, Mrs. Kerrigan arranges for her goons (normally other disgraced ex-policemen, the prison’s full of them) to start a fight. However a serial killer that Ash ‘let escape’ 8 years previously is back and he’s released on license to help catch him.

The book is at times gruesome and there are some great fight sequences and it’s very dark but I couldn’t put it down. The book in a way is a bit clichéd but it sort of knows it is, for example the amount of murders in fictional Oldcastle, every other person must be a serial killer. One of my favourite scenes was when Ash and a colleague are visiting the site of where one of the victims was dumped and they’re talking about another one of the victims.

Colleague: here’s a fun fact for you: one of the ambulance men who saved Laura Strachan, himself went onto become the last ever victim of another serial killer, the Nightmare Man. Personally, if I lived in Oldcastle, I’d move.

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Birthdays for the Dead

Birthdays for the DeadBirthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a hmmm growing to love relationship with this book, a story about DC Ash Henderson, a corrupt Scottish cop whose heart is more or less in the right place. I found the beginning of the book awkward, I can’t remember which author said it but if the reader is aware of your writing, you’re doing it wrong (or something like that, I’m paraphrasing) but at the beginning of the book I was so aware of MacBride’s writing style and it wasn’t for good reasons. I found his style overly and often unnecessarily descriptive, such as describing what the sky looked like twice in the same scene and MacBride seems obsessed with describing chins, so much so, that if on the rare occasion he didn’t describe a character’s chin it got me wondering whether a character even had one! There were also a few odd use of words, such as describing a work surface in a kitchen as a workING surface and when a character’s glasses got bent he described it as the legs of the glasses getting bent not the arms (everyone calls it arms of glasses don’t they? legs is odd). Maybe I’m being hypercritical but it the style just kept on throwing me out of the story, preventing me from getting fully absorbed, for probably the first quarter of the book anyway. The rest ….. I was gripped, there were still a few jarring writing style moments but the building working relationship between Henderson and the new criminal psychologist Dr McDonald (or Dr McFruitloop, as Henderson has her down on his phone) really rescued the book for me. I thought the interaction between Henderson and McDonald was written really well, a very odd (professional) couple but they made a fantastic team as they investigated a serial killer who is abducting 12 year old girls a few days before their 13th birthday, torturing them to death and then sending photographs of the process to the parents every year on their birthdays. It’s dark and there’s violence but there’s a few laugh out loud moments to, I think it would make a fantastic TV series. Birthdays for the Dead is the first Ash Henderson book but not the last, which is a good thing.

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Capture real life – week 10 – where I live

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The challenge this week was to capture where we live. Now I’m lucky to live in a very green part of London

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With access to lots of nearby parks and the river Thames.

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This green space, as well as good shops and schools and a reasonable social scene –

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– makes the area extremely expensive to live in –

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– and this in it’s turn can warp some attitudes a bit, as although some affordable housing is being built, that makes others in turn complain about ‘skyscrapers’ –

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– I think personally just because you can afford a million pound plus house doesn’t mean you should try and exclude other people from living where you live and as other people don’t have a million odd pounds spare, that means they have to live somewhere smaller and as there are an awful lot of people in that position of needing to buy somewhere smaller, i.e. a flat, that means a block of flats and they aren’t exactly skyscrapers (sorry I’m getting preachy).

I love where we live, I moved around relatively frequently as a kid and so, even though we’ve only lived here ten years, this is the longest I’ve ever lived in one spot and I am proud to call this home (even though there are some people here who seem to live on another planet). Because of the inequality of house prices we will probably eventually have to leave, we should have really done it years ago but the kids were in a good school and I guess you want for your kids what you didn’t have yourself as a child, I hated moving around, so I didn’t want to do that to my kids. It will be hard to go.

Taking Stock – April 2015

Over on Meet Me At Mikes they’re taking stock, so I thought I’d play along to.

Making : Too much stuff. I’m still working my way through the KonMari method and it’s making me think a lot about what I have in the house and one of those things is my craft projects, as not only do they take up space whilst I’m making them, they take up space once they’re made (unless they’re given away or sold) and as (according to the KonMari method) everything in my house should bring me joy, I’ve been questioning whether some of my WIPs are bringing me joy and whether once complete are they going to bring me joy to? I’m sure I’m like a lot of crafters with a pile of WIPs, one of the reasons why that pile is there is because sometimes one of the things you’re working on stops bringing you joy, at least for a little while, so at that point do I chuck my WIP out or persevere knowing that when it’s completed the act of finishing will bring me joy? I haven’t quite got round to deciding with most of my WIPs yet, even though when I think about how much space they take up *shudder* (I live in a tiny 2 bed flat with three other people), although there is one WIP that is going to go, an EPP project, the fabric that I had bought for it way way last year and which, to be honest, has been slowly disappearing onto other projects anyway, will be moved to my main stash, the bags I’ve been keeping the project in emptied. Another WIP that may go is a Wool and the Gang cardigan, it’s being knit on gigantic needles and I am not convinced that it’s going to fit when finished, I may be wrong, I’m still an inexperienced knitter but the feeling of doubt when knitting it is not exactly joyful. Same with the ankle warmers I’m on and off currently knitting (although at least they take up less space), I’m knitting them on 4 dpns, my first time using them and ooh particularly the first half of the first ankle warmer (and I’m still on the first ankle warmer) looks so ropey. Knitting as the weather gets warmer is loosing it’s attraction to. I am also working on another EPP project (although that’s mainly getting ignored at the moment and is taking up space). What I’m working on the most at the moment though (and is bringing me joy), is a cross stitch pattern from Modern Folk Embroidery, I’m stitching it with Modern Folk’s embroidery wool, which I’ve had in my stash for a while now and I should have used earlier because it is a complete and utter joy to use.

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Cooking : I haven’t been well, so nothing more exotic than toast most of the time.

Drinking : mainly water, due to not being well but I’m on the mend and currently as I’m typing this I’m drinking an Innocent strawberry and banana smoothie and I have a pineapple, coconut and banana smoothie waiting for me in the fridge. My favourite Innocent smoothie flavour is the kiwi one but that doesn’t have banana in (I’m not normally big on bananas, unless they’re in banana bread) but my body is telling me I need them at the moment.

Reading: Birthdays for the Dead by Stuart MacBride and wincing my way through the audiobook of The Ship by Antonia Honeywell, although if you were to look at my currently reading shelf on Goodreads, you’d see there are also 11 other books on there, over the last few years I’ve not been good at finishing books. If I am absolutely sure I’m not going to actually finish it, I will take the book off my currently reading shelf but as I hate doing that and therefore that makes me very rarely absolutely sure that I am not ever going to finish it. So, what I tend to do, if I’m trying to be good, is have one book on the go that I’m really enjoying (in this case Birthdays for the Dead) and at the same time I’ll have another book which I’m just trying to get over and done with (in this case The Ship). I know, I know, why am I still bothering to read The Ship if I don’t like it? Well, it’s the old case of although I’m not particularly enjoying it (in this case because the main character is soooo annoying), I do want to know what happens at the end, so I’m gritting my teeth.

Wanting: a holiday. Holidays were something we gave up when I quit my job to become a stay at home mum when Girl Lacer was born eleven years ago. I started working part time, some years way more part time than other years, since she was 1 (and I was pregnant with Boy Lacer) but my part time salary has never been much and obviously we went from just having to feed and clothes ourselves to having to feed and clothe four of us, so money was stretched further. We did go to Disneyland Paris a few years ago on the back of some inheritance, we’ve been camping a couple of times, we have ‘holidays’ at my dad’s and I did have a slightly disastrous day trip to Paris earlier this year but the pleasure of being able to look in the holiday brochures (or I guess it’d just be researching online these days) and going “let’s go there” is long gone and oh there are places I want to see.

Looking: I didn’t get to see the Constable exhibition that was on at the V&A earlier this year but I remember seeing a lot of this image around about that time and it’s still haunting me in a way, as I pay way more attention to tree trunks now, I think before I was more into the branches and the leaves.

Study of the trunk of an elm tree - John Constable - 1821

Study of the trunk of an elm tree – John Constable – 1821

Playing: Plants vs. Zombies, still. They had an update with new vase breaker levels, that’s kept me happy.

Deciding: I’m due some surgery towards the end of this year and into the next (and there I had been thinking earlier this year that the surgeries would likely all be this year but bless the NHS, it moves at it’s own pace and I just need to be patient), so making decisions on anything else in my life right now is tricky, even though some decisions do need to be made, but I’m in a kind of holding pattern at the moment.

Wishing: That the appointment for a test I need before one of the operations is considered would hurry up (I haven’t even got the date yet for the test).

Enjoying: Netflix. So far I’ve watched Firefly and Serenity and I’m catching up with House of Cards.

Waiting: for that appointment letter.

Liking: the smoothie I’ve just drunk.

Wondering: what my daughter’s new school is going to be like, exciting times ahead!

Loving: seeing my husband getting really absorbed into his new position at work.

Pondering: who’s going to win the election, I know who I want to win but I think this is probably going to be the hardest one to predict since, well at least since I was old enough to start paying attention to these things.

Considering: trying to save some money (ha ha).

Buying: today happens to be pay day ie day I have to most control any spending urges, I have bought today (as well as the smoothies), some art supplies that I spent all last week considering and researching and deciding that yes I actually did need them, a natural insect repellant as I’m already getting bitten to death and a new type of hayfever medicine which I am intrigued about and really hoping it will work (otherwise I’ve just wasted £9.99). I get really bad hayfever, normal hayfever tablets don’t work for me, only those corticosteroid sprays and even with them I have to remember to start taking it before the hayfever season starts and then be absolutely certain not to miss a dose. I’m happy to take the corticosteroids if that’s my only option and that was what I was planning on buying today but I saw a new type of barrier spray next to the corticosteroids and I thought that sounded a bit healthier and (according to the packet), you need to only take it as needed, so I’m going to be giving it a try.

Watching: Game of Thrones (of course), Travel Man (does not help with the holiday urges), Critical (which is absolutely, literally bloody brilliant and not for the squeamish, although I’m squeamish and I still watch it because the characters are so good), Code of a Killer (which makes me both proud and sentimental about my old pre-kid career and even more annoyed with the Tories) and Hinterland (which had a one off special recently, it’s mine and my dad’s shared favourite programme, it’s all about people going round North Wales being miserable and killing each other, they need to make more!).

Hoping: my broadband holds out.

Marvelling: at how more put together my 11 year old is compared to me.

Cringing: at the Tory party, they’re beginning to sound desperate.

Needing: to get myself out of making just toast.

Questioning: what the politicians of all the parties are saying in the news at the moment.

Smelling: the flat, last week, when all of us were ill, not pleasant.

Wearing: jeans that are too big for me and I hate them.

Following: @herdyshepherd1, as I quite fancy some nice farm pictures in my Twitter stream for a change.

Noticing: how much I’m appreciating what I’ve done with the KonMari method so far, I’ve recently KonMaried my underwear drawer and it makes me smile every time I open it. Knowing that I can open my underwear drawer and immediately pull out a matching pair of socks without spending 10 minutes searching through an overstuffed drawer and then giving up and wearing the socks I wore yesterday (yes I know), well, it’s a good start to the day.

Knowing: that although I am not completely following the precise order of the KonMari method (it’s difficult in a tiny flat and trying to do it around three other people), I need to stick with it because it seems to be working so far.

Thinking: when I’m feeling a bit more recovered I need to go for a walk and enjoy this recent nice weather.

Admiring: Angelina Jolie

Sorting: still my bedroom come office come craft space, the KonMari method specifically says not to do it room by room but my bedroom is the one room in the flat where I have the most control, so if I can get the method to work in that room, I can then move onto others.

Getting: nothing if I can control my spending urges, although the kids need some more school uniform, so there’s always that.

Bookmarking: Photoshop shortcuts for a Skillshare class.

Coveting: the Apple watch, I go all droolly every time I see the advert, so it’s a good thing I don’t have £299 to spare. I am sure that at some point in my life I am probably going to get one but I am trying to think of it as if you look at the Apple watch now, that watch is basically at the same point as the original iPhone and iPad, so if you wait a few generations, it’s going to be even better (and hopefully have more than 18 hours battery life).

Disliking: UKIP.

Opening: windows.

Giggling: at Birthdays for the Dead, which sounds a bit odd and wrong, as it’s a murder thriller about a very sick pervert abducting and murdering 12 year olds (so it feels a bit too close to home) but there are some funny bits in it.

Feeling: better than I did yesterday!

Snacking: not much, but if it’s got salt on it, it’s mine.

Helping: out with parent rep stuff.

Hearing: The Show Ponies (still), they’ve been my most played playlist on Spotify for quite a while now, to the extent where I’m now trying to find some new music to listen to but I keep coming back!

Kolymsky Heights

Kolymsky HeightsKolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s been some talk on Twitter recently about this book (published in the 1990s), with a new edition complete with glowing praise from Phillip Pullman, so I thought I’d give it a go. It was ok, set mostly in Siberia, it tells the story of a native Canadian academic who first breaks into this secretive area of Siberia and then breaks into an even more secretive research base. It’s quite a ‘gentle’ book and to be honest I thought it dragged a bit in places but it was reasonably entertaining enough.

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How Does My Garden Grow – overwintering succulents

 

My beloved succulents got kicked out of the house last year, which was fine in the summer, quite a big risk in the winter and I did loose two and severely damaged a third (now back indoors) but the others actually did okay. Most of them live in a collection of cheap IKEA mini greenhouses on my patio table. I’ve kept an eye on them over winter and it’s been fascinating to see how a couple of them changed colour from green to red, one of them (I am rubbish at remembering my plants names), doing it particularly strikingly. Well the aforementioned particularly striking succulent has recently pushed the boat out even further, as in what seems like a blink of an eye it seems to have had a growth spurt. You can see it in the picture above, you have the rich red leaves from over winter and  the sudden sprouting of the new grey green growth. You can’t see it in the picture but it looks like it might be about to flower to, I will be watching it eagerly.