Icon by Frederic Forsyth
This is my review of the book Icon by Frederic Forysth, which I have read recently. Maybe it is because of the snow, cold or just the season, but I thought I would re read this book which I last read, about 10 years ago.
Like all Frederic Forysth books it is full of detail and back story making the whole thing far more believable. Th book is written in two parts. The first half introduces one to the key characters, by using back history. During this process Frederic brings along a whole cacophony of characters, who sadly nearly all end up being betrayed and killed, but build the back story for the main characters.
For a lot of authors, this would have been a book in itself, but part two moves on to the main story line of the book, a forth coming election in Russia. The favourite candidate on the surface seems all milk and honey, but underneath he as a completely different agenda. He is working to the “black manifesto”. When this comes to light a group of ex-spies come up with a master plan to stop a disaster happening.
Through a series of seemingly unrelated events they manage to start to change events. The final twist happens on the eve of the election, but I can't reveal what happens otherwise it would spoil the story.
It has been an enjoyable few days reading nearly 1000 pages in the last two books, and have I missed the TV – no not really? Though the power is useful for providing light, as reading by candle light is not that brilliant.
This was book 11 week 8 – fiction 10 (1 on audio) non fiction 1
This is my review of the book the Last Legion by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, which I read recently.
This was read largely by candle light in a house with no power or heat, was very suitable as the book has a sizeable part of it allocated to a description of a long journey across the Alps in the winter, with lots of snow and ice. The wind, snow and ice out side all made the text come to life, but I am jumping the gun a little.
The story is set during the final end of the Roman empire in the mid 400's AD and is all about the adventures of the last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus and his tutor Meridus Ambrosinus. He is protected by a ragamuffin collection heros Rufius Aelius Vatrenus, veteran of countless battles,Cornelius Batiatus – a gigantic Ethopian of incredible strength, and Lvia Prisca, a formidable warrioress. Their commander is Aurelius and together they make up the last legion, whose task is to protect the last Emperor.
To escape from all their enemies, who either want to kidnap the Emperor, or kill him, they have to go on a dramatic journey from Capri to Britain, via large parts of Europe. This includes crossing the Alps during the winter in the snow and a barge trip down the Rhine.
There is a lovely twist at the end, which makes the whole exciting book even more genius. A book I can well recommend, and it doesn't have to be read by candle light to enjoy it but that does help.
An enjoyable read as book 10 week 8 – fiction 9 (1 on audio) non fiction 1
Lots of Snow
Like a lot of people recently we have been hit by large snow falls, no of power and a subsequent lack of broadband.
The lack of power did not matter too much during the day as we spent all the day light hours digging ourselves out. I don't know how many tons of snow it was but the depth of snow varied from 30 cm to over a metre.
Digging the snow
Eventually after two days worth of digging – around ¼ km our neighbour a farmer was able to finish off digging the track as he had finished digging cars out on the main road.
Well we are now catching up with things, which includes writing reviews of books I have read over the last few days, some of which by candle light.
It all looks very alpine now, with the sun shining on the snow but that is for another entry
This is my review of the book The Potting Shed Papers by Charles Elliot, which I have read recently. As you will see from my list of books this is something completely different to the books that I have been reading recently. If you read this blog you will see that I am doing a lot of work on our garden at Trostrie and as inspiration I have been given several gardening books. I also over time I have acquired quite a collection of gardening books, which I will be looking at again.
So getting back to our book, this is a collection of short essays about gardening, covering plants, history, people and machines. He manages to take the seemingly uninteresting and turn it round making it engaging, by using history and relevant anecdotes. Because each essay id fairly short even if one finds that that does not appeal, then probably the next one will, though one of the sad things I noticed was how he describes a beloved cultivator, only to add a ps that it has now been stolen.
The book has nearly 40 chapters and each one is different so I can't really describe them in too much detail, only to say that the book surprisingly kept my interest, so much so that I will be looking out for other ones he has written
An enjoyable read as book 9 week 7 – fiction 8 (1 on audio) non fiction 1
Trostrie Garden - Snowdrops
Even though the weather does not seem like it, spring has sprung and the snowdrops are popping up all over the place. It is thought that the Romans brought Snowdrops Galanthus to the UK
The snowdrop grows from a small bulb, producing slender leaves about 15 cm long, and flower stalks ending in a solitary white flower with three spreading outer petals which are larger and more convex than the three inner ones. The flower is milky-white, as indicated by its scientific name, Galanthus (Greek,gala= milk,anthos= flower). There are green markings on the inner petals, which are used as a means of identification.
Snowdrops @ Trostrie
They grow freely in the wild; but 'wild' snowdrops seem to be garden escapees. It is generally thought that, if you find snowdrops growing wild in the middle of a wood, you can be almost certain that there was once a dwelling there. Snowdrops are generally spread by birds scratching the soil, dispersing the bulbs.
Snowdrops @ Trostrie
So the fact that we have then growing in an overgrown area of the garden by a flattened area indicates that there used to be buildings there.
Snowdrops @ Trostrie
All they are is really sign posts that are telling us that the daffodils will be out soon.
This is my ad hoc update and diary describing our garden at Trostrie Cottage in Galloway. You can see the garden for yourself if you book a self catering holiday @The Shieling which is attached to Trostrie Cottage http://www.trostriecottage.co.uk/
This is my review of the book The Dreaming Void by Peter Hamilton. This is the first book I have read by Peter for a large number of years, and one is immediately struck by the shear quantity of words in the book. The font is small and there is nearly 650 pages.
The first couple of hundred pages seem to be setting the scene and introducing one to the vast crowd of characters. I imagine a lot of people give it before they get to the end of this section because it was a bit boring, sort of a cross between a geography and a history text book.
But once the scene had been set and the story got going it was great. Well in fact it is two stories, that one assumes will be linked in some way in a future book. Both of the story lines could have been books in themselves, and so long as one remembers which refers to whom, then it is exciting.
As often with books that are part of a series, it did not really come to an end, but that of course makes one want to go out and get the next book in the series. The story lines are so vast and complicated that it would take a couple of pages just to write a very short summary, so I am not even going to bother.
If you do read the book then it is worth persevering past the descriptive phase to the more exciting plot line. Also it is not a book that one can easily read whilst doing other things, otherwise one ends up having to re-read the section, as it is quite easy to loose the plot line due to it's complexity. One of the quotes on the cover is “Epic, multi-stranded” and I can't agree more.
An enjoyable read as book 8 week 6 – fiction 8 (1 on audio) non fiction 0
Please forgive me for not posting this a few days. It was thought about and half written, but other things came along and I did not realise it had not been posted. Oops!
When we were thinking about what to have as March's digital wallpaper, we looked at the long range weather forecast and thought, this is very different to the heat of last year. So maybe it would be good to have an image that reminds us of the warmer weather from 2012
March Digital Wallpaper
This shot was taken at an old orchard near to Penrith, towards the end of March 2012
Orchard full of daffodils
The new growth of nature was bursting out all over the place, and it was hard to capture, but I took 129 pictures that day so have lots of future potential
March Digital Wallpaper without the month
We hope you like our choice of free Daffodils in the Sun March digital wallpaper taken near Penrith last March. Hopefully we have included all common screen size combinations, so you can enjoy it too, over this coming month. There are more free digital wallpapers to be found here...
Zero Day by David Baldacci
This is my review of the book Zero Day by David Baldacci, which I have read recently. It is always interesting to note in a book the font size and the number of words per page. The version I had of this book, had quite a large font size and fairly few words per page compared to other books, so it was a big fat book, of over 600 pages, but I zoomed through it.
The hero of the story is John Puller, who is a top investigator with the US Army, and he is called to look into the death of a whole family that has high military connections.
The murder took place in an area known for it's mining activity, and very soon the body count is zooming upwards. Helping John is the local homicide detective Samantha Cole.
Family relations and things being not quite what they seem, make the story twist and turn on almost every page.
The story charges along as a roller coaster ride against time – Can they stop a very major disaster happening, and does have an unexpected twist at the end.
An enjoyable read as book 7 week 5 – fiction 7 (1 on audio) non fiction 0
With a garden that has been around for a number of years and had numerous owners, each person will have made their own alterations to the landscape, and form of it. Pauline decided that she wanted a flat area where she could sit and look at the view, whilst at the same time enjoy the sunshine.
Looking around the garden we identified somewhere between seven and ten areas that were flat and had previously either had a building on them, or were some form of paved floor, but sadly none were quite in the right place.
Old Paving Stones
So we decided to make our own. We would recycle some paving slabs from one of the other areas that we would not use
The place Pauline decided that was ideal had a bit of stone wall to one side and the wire fence to the neighbouring field to the other
Site of Paulines Perch
To make an area large enough we needed to build up one corner
Stones for foundations
Fortunately there are lots of stones around which can be used as filler foundation
Check to see if level
It is good to make sure all is level
Well almost level
well just about
Clearing the final bits of undergrowth
Pauline hard at work clearing space for the last slabs to go down
Just got the steps up to the perch to finish off
The end result
The end result. Just now need some sun to enjoy sitting on it, and a nice cuppa
This is my ad hoc update and diary describing how I am developing our garden at Trostrie Cottage in Galloway. You can see the garden for yourself if you book a self catering dog friendly holiday @The Shieling which is attached to Trostrie Cottage http://www.trostriecottage.co.uk/
This is my review of the book Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. This is a book that I thought I knew, having seen several adoptions of it on the TV and even I think one film version, but until now I had never actually enjoyed the original work.
Daniel wrote the book back in the early 1700's and as such the writing style of the time takes a bit of getting used to. So often with more modern book, we zoom into the plot, then back track and fill for around 100 pages to make it all make sense.
Back in the 1700's it was evidently good practice to start at the beginning and progress slowly through time in an orderly manner. As such the part of the story that is so well known now, does not really appear until well into the second half of the book.
The second element of the book that was a real surprise, was how long Robinson Crusoe, was marooned, on the island. If I had been asked before this I would have said that it was for a few years, and guessed that he was off in under five years. In fact I would have been out by over twenty years.
The enormous time span allows the reader to come to terms with the conflict between hope and despair that he went through whilst waiting to be rescued. The experiences described are based on the real life experiences of the castaway Alexander Selkirk.
The version I listened to was a Librivox.org http://librivox.org/robinson-crusoe-by-daniel-defoe/ version and a very enjoyable 14 hours listening.
This was book 6 week 4 – fiction 6 (1 on audio) non fiction 0
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.