Weekly Round Up #12

Weekly Round Up #12 (13/10 – 19/10)

This week has been a week of trying to get back into running. After my illness, and Mum taking a tumble off a pavement, we weren’t in fit shape to be going anywhere far or fast, but I needed to get out. My mental state can be fragile, particularly if I’m not feeling well, and having had a brush with anxiety, I really didn’t want to go there again. I knew I needed to hit the road.

So on Wednesday, we went for a very slow, very wet two miles around the streets near Mum’s house. It wasn’t pretty. My chest was tight, and I didn’t quite trust my heart not to break under the strain. It was hard to believe we’d been able to run 13.1 miles.

It did make me feel better though, leaving me with only a loss of appetite to contend with. Which, incidentally, has helped me lose 4lbs in a week, though I’m sure to not keep that pace going now I’m hungry again!

On Saturday, we went for a ParkRun at Telford. It went better than Wednesday’s run, but it still wasn’t pretty. I struggled. My stomach gave me some pain, and because I was tensing, I then got really bad stitch, meaning I nearly collapsed in agony less than 300m from the finishing line. My Step Dad nearly had to carry me over, but I was determined to finish on my own, and I did. In nearly 36 minutes. Still not as slow as my slowest, but not great. I’m hoping to tackle it again at full strength in a couple of weeks and smash that time, as the Boyfriend would say.

Charlie is back for her half term, which is nice – it’s good to have her back from boarding school. I babysat the little ones for Mum while she went to pick Charlie up. The Boyfriend may protest that he doesn’t like children, but he does have a lovely relationship with my little brother and sister. Although they were pretty much in bed by the time he arrived, they were plenty excited to see him, and it always makes me smile to see that.

Review: Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong

otherworld NightsTitle: Otherworld Nights

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Series: Women of the Otherworld Short Story Collection

Genre: Paranormal

Summary (from Goodreads)

This short story collection will include many brand-new tales and others only previously available on Kelley Armstrong’s website. Most of the stories will feature the werewolves of the Otherworld, Elena and Clay, Jeremy, Karl and other members of the American Pack. These are some of Kelley Armstrong’s best-loved and most enduring characters, from bestselling books such as Bitten, Stolen and Frostbitten.

Review

I’m a long time fan of Kelley Armstrong’s series, though I haven’t managed to read all the books of hers I own, yet, let alone the entire series. I’ve read more than half, though, so I was keen to add this to the collection.

So, yes, there were some characters I didn’t recognise, and a lot of them were much further on than where I last left them, but none of this prevented me enjoying being back among the supernatural creatures of the Otherworld.

And a big part of that is that it’s such a compelling world. The idea that witches and werewolves live almost among us, conducting their business and trying to police their own population – often in necessarily savage and brutal ways – is one I’ve always loved, and Armstrong pulls it off with particular style.

I’d read one of the stories in this anthology before – it’s freely available on Armstrong’s website – but the rest were new to me. The longer, novella length stories were the best, naturally, as they gave you something more to get your teeth into. My particular favourite was Chivalrous, which is odd because it was one of the shorter ones, and featured a character I wasn’t familiar with. But the tragic back story of Reese made for compelling reading, and made me want to chase down the books I don’t have so I can see him in action in a full book.

I wouldn’t suggest picking this up if you aren’t a fan of the series, but it’s great reading for fans, and a proper indulgence to be able to revisit the world whose story came to a conclusion in Thirteen.

Rating: 4/5

Cover Lust #35 – Otherworld Nights

Cover Lust #35 – Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong

otherworld Nights

So this arrived in the post for me the other day, and I just had to stop and admire it for a moment.

A very simple cover – the full moon giving that otherworldly hint, to go with the title. Soft blue colours, the blood red writing and the single decorative embellishment on the title. But it’s so pretty. I’m really excited to read it too, because I love Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld. I’ve read a couple of the stories in this before, but I’m looking forwards to getting back into the world and the characters that I’ve loved so much over the years.

What covers are you lusting after this week?

Podcasts I Listen To Part #3

Click here for Part #1
Click here for Part #2

TEDTalks_VIDEO_600pxTed Talks

Usually no longer than 20 minutes, the TED Talks provide you with still in-depth and interesting information on a range of topics. From lighthearted examinations of language, to explorations of alternative methods for producing medicines, TED Talks cover literally anything and everything.

I really enjoy hearing experts talk passionately about the things they love and feel strongly about. Some of the talks are funny, some informative, others a bit scary, but I always feel like I’ve learned something each time.

Escape PodEscapePod

A weekly dose of science fiction goodness. I do find the quality of the stories varies quite a lot, but I haven’t heard a terrible one yet – and when they’re good, they’re amazing.

I like the format of the show – hearing the feedback about previous episodes not only gives you the chance to relive the story, but it’s almost like having a discussion with a community – without the effort of having to go on the actual forums, which isn’t my sort of thing!

UnknownWalking Dead TV Podcast

I love The Walking Dead, and I knew when I started watching it obsessively that just watching it wasn’t going to be enough. So I started looking for Podcasts. There were several, and I have a couple still on my podcast list, waiting for me to finish listening through the backlogs of other podcasts before I start listening to them. But it was this one that I started listening to first, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The panel give in-depth discussion of the episodes, as well as providing you with a load of background info and interviews with cast and crew members, and kept me going in the long weeks between episodes.

Dead Robots SocietyUnknown-1

Another one discovered when looking for podcasts about writing. I haven’t actually listened to it for a while – I’m working through the backlogs of several podcasts, and this is  next on the list.

It’s a panel discussion show about different writing related topics, by and for aspiring writers. It’s nice to hear the trials and tribulations of other writers and not feel quite so alone in the process!

The Writing ShowWS cs1

This podcast had actually finished before I even started listening to it. I’m currently listening to the 2007 episodes, which means a few are pretty out of date (I skip the episodes about ebooks, for instance) but a lot of the advice is timeless, and I really like the different guests that they have on.

It’s one of the few shows where they have writers of non-fiction as well as fiction. It might not be what I want to do, but the advice provides you with different insights, and all of it is relevant, no matter what your genre.

 

Five of my Favourite Things About Autumn

Autumn has definitely arrived – the fire has been on, the heating set and I’ve even had cause to wear my coat. Autumn is my favourite season, and here are five reasons why.

1. Misty Mornings

I love the look of mist as the sun rises – equal parts spooky and beautiful. I don’t mean fog, the sort that’s a thick soup and makes driving precarious, but the kind of wispy mist that settles over the fields.

2. Lighting the Fire

The Boyfriend does love his log burner – he cleans it, builds up the fire ready to light, and then when the temperature drops low enough it’s ready to go. I love sitting in our living room and enjoying the warmth and the beauty of the fire. It’s really cozy and perfect for those chilly autumn evenings.

3. Tucking up Under a Blanket to Read

I read all the time, but there’s something about autumn days that makes it somehow more permissible to wrap up in a blanket with a hot water bottle and read. I love it when the wind is howling, the leaves blowing around, and I’m warm and cozy and a million miles away on other worlds, having great adventures.

4. The Colours

Autumn colours are my favourite. I love the dramatic blends of red, orange and yellow as the leaves start to turn. There’s something about the bright autumn sunshine that makes everything look even better, and I’m looking forwards to running on a few crisp autumn mornings very soon.

5. Hot Chocolate

I do enjoy a hot chocolate – it’s the only hot drink I like. And there are plenty of excuses for it as the evenings cool and the colder weather starts to pick up. There’s something really relaxing about sitting down with a hot chocolate, topped with a bit of cream, and warming your chilly fingers on the mug.

C is for ‘Cheesy Romance’

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Cheesy Romance’


Though I love deep exploration of complex themes, engaging ideas, expertly drawn characters – there comes a time when you just want to read something easy and feel good.

When that time comes, I always head for the Amazon Kindle Top 100 Free Romance Books list.

My Kindle is still full of these sorts of books that I’ve never got round to reading, but I have a folder for them, and every so often I choose one to read. They’re usually short, mostly an hour or two’s worth of reading, and are usually self-published. They aren’t very good – mostly the sort of thing you don’t remember ten minutes later, let alone six months later.

I could pretty much tell you the story of all of them in three sentences: Hot man meets young woman with self esteem issues. Sex happens after some mishap/misunderstanding. They all live happily ever after.

There’s nothing that’s going to challenge, but that’s the point. It’s great to switch off your brain, cleanse your reading palate, and just enjoy something.

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I’m a particular fan of the wish-fulfillment ones where a waitress is pursued and romanced by a billionaire who’s utterly captivated by her for *insert reason here*. I pretty much laugh my head off all the way through reading them, but that’s enjoyment. Particularly because my sister reads them too, and loves to talk about the plot ins and outs, such as they are, and the sometimes laugh out loud funny sex scenes.

I know it’s not quite the enjoyment authors of these books are looking for, but in my own way, I do love these books. They aren’t great literature, but not everything has to be. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

queen of heartsTitle: Queen of Hearts

Author: Rhys Bowen

Series: Her Royal Spyness Mysteries #8

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Summary (from Goodreads)

My mother, the glamorous and much-married actress, is hearing wedding bells once again—which is why she must hop across the pond for a quickie divorce in Reno. To offer my moral support, and since all expenses are paid by her new hubby-to-be, Max, I agree to make the voyage with her.

Crossing the Atlantic, with adventure in the air and wealthy men aboard, Mother all but forgets about Max and matrimony—especially when movie mogul Cy Goldman insists on casting her in his next picture.

Meanwhile, I find myself caught up in the secret investigation of a suspected jewel thief. Lucky for me, the lead investigator happens to be my dashing beau, Darcy!

Mother’s movie and Darcy’s larceny lead everyone to Cy’s Hollywood home, where the likes of Charlie Chaplin are hanging about and there’s enough romantic intrigue to fill a double feature. But we hardly get a chance to work out the sleeping arrangements before Cy turns up dead—as if there wasn’t enough drama already…

Review

Er, inaccurate summary. There definitely isn’t enough drama. Drama is hard to come by in the entire first half of the novel. I was a good five hours into the audiobook before the murder happened, which meant that the drama rather relied on the sexcapades of various characters, including Charlie Chaplin, who was not portrayed in a very positive light!

To go with that was a cast of absolutely vapid characters. Even our heroine and hero were pretty boring, petty and driven by money. They can’t get married because Darcy wants to keep Georgie ‘the way she deserves’ – an excuse so ridiculous it has to be a forced reason to keep them apart. Because there really isn’t a good reason to keep them apart, except for perpetuation of the ‘romantic tension’ in later episodes of the series. Quote marks because there wasn’t really any romantic tension – Darcy was only in the book for about five minutes, and he didn’t do a great deal in that time.

There was some good intrigue with the story of the jewel thief, and a couple of mildly entertaining moments, but they were overshadowed by the fact that the characters were at best unmemorable, at worst unpleasant. If this is the eighth book of the series, I really don’t know how any reader has lasted this long with it.

An extra star for an excellent performance by Katherine Kellgren, but I’d avoid this unless you’re a massive fan.

Rating: 2/5