Friends, this is my review of the book Lie down with Lions by Ken Follett, which I read recently. This book was written in the mid 1980's, and is about life in Afghanistan, though not of course the Afghanistan, which we hear about on the news every day, but one where the Russians are the invaders and the locals are fighting them as the oppressors.
Ironically the book is all about the Americans, in the form of the CIA helping the rebels. They supply arms and teach them how to make traps and lay land mines. Oh the snake that turns on the hand that feeds it.
In some aspects the book is quite sad, and makes one question how things might have been if the rebels still had weapons of over 100 years old, rather than high explosives. Anyway enough daydreaming about the what if? -
The book is a romantic spy adventure, set in Afghanistan, where our star Jane falls in love with two unbeknown to her spies, one working for the CIA and one for the Russians. She marries one of them, and has a daughter.
When one spy tries to kill the other along with several local war lords, she is trapped, and has to get out of the line of fire. There then follows a chase across Afghanistan. This part of the story did seem to be real life acting as a mirror to the fictional narrative, but makes an exciting
This being said the twist at the end was unexpected, and the book was an enjoyable read. This was book 28 week 21 fiction 25 (6 on audio) non fiction 3
Friends, this is my add hoc record of how we are developing the garden @ Trostrie Cottage. With the sunshine of the last few days the grass has just taken off, and needs cutting at regular intervals to keep it under control.Cutting the grass
Those that know me know that I like to try and make straight lines in the lawn, though as can be seen here the camera has picked up a positive waggle. Of course my excuse is there are too many bumps, holes and stones that need to be avoided. I try and remove a few each time I cut the grass.
Lines in the grass
Whilst I was cutting I noticed that my neighbour was cutting his grass. Though in the case it is a slightly larger affair than mine
Tractors in the distance
The tractors lined up in a row, and then whizzed across the field. Once full of grass the next one took over,
Picking up the cut grass
without stopping the process.
The whole field was cleared in less time than it took me to cut my lawn. A very impressive enterprise. Made me think about maybe I should get a slightly larger mower, but that will have to just be a dream for the time being.
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 Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson which I listened to as an audio book recently.
It has some very vivid descriptions of characters, and landscapes, which make it ideal as an audio book, as the mind can help them to come to life. To put it into context the book is set around 18th-century Scottish events, notably the "Appin Murder", which occurred near Ballachulish in 1752 in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rising.
The star of the story one --David Balfour, a lad of seventeen and newly orphaned, is directed to go and live with his rich uncle Ebenezer, the master of the estate of Shaws in the lowlands of Scotland near Edinburgh.
Ebenezer, the ultimate scrooge, is shocked to suddenly have his young relative descend on him and tries to rid himself of David with an arranged accident. Getting David to climb an incomplete tower staircase in the dark. - Can't afford candles! Failing that, he pays the captain of a brig to kidnap David and sell him into slavery in Carolina.
A collision in the fog brings onboard the brig a survivor, Alan Breck Stewart, a Jacobite, who is carrying a dangerous amount of gold on his person. David warns him of a plan by the brig’s captain and crew to overpower him and seize the money, and then finds himself fighting alongside Alan. By good fortune, Alan is handy with a sword and they have access to the firearms locker, and the pair defeat the crew. Limping to port, she is holed by rocks, and David finds himself a castaway on the Scottish shore.
There then follows an ambush, murder, a chase and somehow David needs to claim his inheritance, whilst at the same time help Alan to escape to France. Of course there is still Ebenezer to deal with.
Thought it is claimed that at the time it was written as a children’s novel, I am sure it stands up against modern day adult adventure thrillers and that was book 27 week 20 fiction 24 (6 on audio) non fiction 3
Friends this is my review of the book A Dance with the Dragons 2: After the Feast by George R R Martin, which I read recently. This is the continuing saga of the Seven Kingdoms, book five. Evidently when the book was written it was split into two parts due to it's size and complexity.
Well yes – it is better than book four but if it had been the first book of the series I would not have bothered with the rest. The trouble is the cast is so large, there is an appendix of over 50 pages explaining who everyone is, Along with this the story does not follow one plot line but multiple plot lines weaving a truly multilayered story that is just about comprehensible. Yes I am all in favour of an author keeping the reader ins suspense, it is just how long that suspense should be is the question.
The book has murder, death, dragons, slavery, outlaws, priests, nobles, and of course lots and loads of treachery. Added to this there are lots and lots of battles. The incredible thing is that the world described is believable whilst being amazing at the same time. George's imagination is incredible creating a world of such amazing complexity.
This book carries on from part 1 and book 3. If and when George finishes the saga I will read them all again in succession one after the other and I am sure this will make the story much more intelligible and enjoyable. Ideally one should reread book 3 before reading this if you were like me and read it quite some time ago. I read book four between the two. Also some form of synopsis of what has happened to get to the start of this book would have been a helpful reminder, as it just carries on expecting you to have remembered what has gone on before, which is not always the case.
I do know I am not the only person to have made these kind of comments, and I do hope that the next book starts to tie the plot lines together and to bring some form of conclusion, as I am sure it will take more than one book to tie up all the loose ends.
But that being said the snapshot that the book represents, of the world being described is amazing. So that was book 26 week 20 fiction 23 (5 on audio) non fiction 3
Friends, this is my review of the book The Wall by Alistair Moffat. This is a book that has been sitting on my side waiting to be read for a number of months now, as I have been looking forward reading it and wanted to enjoy the anticipation. It did not disappoint.
Though it is called “The Wall”, it is really a potted history of Britain covering around 500 years centred around Hadrian's Wall. The book is ram packed with facts from research, and every couple of pages has a “QI” fact relevant to the time period at that time. These in themselves could have been collected together to form a book.
Much to Paulines' annoyance, every couple of pages I would say – did you know this (or that) so much so that she is now reading the book. Not only does the book give great information on how the wall was built over a ten-year period by more than 30,000 soldiers and labourers at the behest of the emperor Hadrian. It also gives a fascinating insight to Roman life in Britain at that time, along with lots of facts and figures about the wall itself - it consisted of more than 24 million stones, giving it a mass greater than all the Egyptian pyramids put together.
One of the things I was amazed to learn was how it went down the Cumbrian coast and all in all covered 120 miles, before reading the book I had thought it just went east-west across the country, as there was threats from the sea as well as from the land.
I do have another one of his books to read sitting on my shelves, but that will wait for a while, when the weather is not so good, as it is a bit longer
A very interesting book, packed full with facts and one that cannot really be hurried otherwise they will get missed. This was book 25 week 19 fiction 22 (5 on audio) non fiction 3
Friends this is my review of the book Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, which I listened to recently as a Librivox recording. http://librivox.org/nicholas-nickleby-by-charles-dickens/
Dickens is someone I have steered clear of till now, as I studied one of this books at school, and we spent so long dissecting each chapter, that the story line got lost and I thought he was dull and boring. So it was with mixed feelings that we started to listen to this book. Especially as the recording we were listening to was over 35 hours in length, so it was going to be quite a commitment to get to the end.
In fact it was totally addictive, and this was in no small part by the skill of the reader Mil Nicholson http://www.act2sc3.com/ and she claims on her website that as of January 2013 she has had over 100,000 downloads of her various recording on Librivox. Mil manages to bring the characters to life, through her clever use of various voices.
So what is the story about – even though it was written over 150 years ago, it is so up to date in it's themes. Banking and money lending scandals, sex slavery, child abuse, and poor schooling. Add to that illegal duelling, assorted scams, the theatre and various romances.
As the book is a so called classic there is great detail written on the plot elsewhere http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Nickleby for example, which I am not going to repeat. But in essence the book is an adventure/romance about Nicholas' life from childhood and how he and his family goes from riches to poverty and back to riches again, with all the excitement of the various themes I have mentioned thrown in the pot.
This was a very unexpected enjoyable book so much so we are now listening to another Dickens epic during our travels.
This was book 24 week 18 fiction 22 (5 on audio) non fiction 2
Friends, the recent snow we had in April
seemed to get everywhere.
And not just outside, anywhere it could!
Putting up the weather boearding
In places there was around 5 cm of snow inside, where it had blown in through cracks! (It did not melt because there was a long power cut and no heating) Once the snow had melted we assessed the worst of the problems and decided that we would need to put a complete new skin on the old stables, where quite a lot had got in.
Comparing the old and new
We started at the most exposed end the west gable and gradually worked around
Last part to go
We have now nearly finished the job. One of the last things was the angle flashing, which came yesterday from TAS building supplies. http://www.tasbuildingsupplies.com/ (Fantastic service delivered when they said. ) They just need to be screwed in. These will stop the wind (and snow) getting in under the roof panels. Then finish off putting the wood preserver on the new weather boarding, and hopefully it will be good for another 20-30 years.
The end result
Once finished it blends in with the shrubs. 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/
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.