Saturday, 18 October 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

I can't believe that it's already read-a-thon time again! This is my sticky post that I will update throughout the event.
14:00 Opening Meme:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Norfolk, England.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Storm - Tim Minchin (it arrived yesterday and it is just gorgeous!)
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chocolate hob nobs!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a long time reader who lives in a thatched cottage in a small village in the beautiful English countryside with my husband and two dogs.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Read more books! Although I say that every time but still get distracted by all the lovely activities that are going on around this event! Such as twitter (#readathon) or the new goodreads group!

19:20 First Book Finished
I've not been very active (yet) as I've hunkered down to read this afternoon and had a couple of small accidental naps but I've just completed Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch and I am off to find myself a regency-ish romance to read next.

21:10 Mini-Challenge: Show it off!
Great idea for a mini-challenge hosted by deadbookdarling!

Here's a selection of my beloved signed books.  This picture includes books by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Margaret Attwood, Iain M. Banks, Toni Morrison, Patrick Rothfuss and Douglas Adams.

Since I started almost exclusively reading on the kindle, I've become more and more attached to beautiful editions of favourite books and trying to grow my collection of ones that are signed by my favourite authors.  I lovessss my treasures...

23:57 Second Book Finished
Just finished reading A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Larner.  I do very much love a Regency Romance but this one didn't really do it for me. Oh well.  Toying with the idea of a change of pace next as I am getting tired - perhaps a comic? Off to browse the tbr pile!

00:34 Third Book Finished
I finally got around to reading the first Scott Pilgrim book which I enjoyed.  I do have the second book sitting next to me but I am tucked up in bed now and, as I have had flu this week, I'm not feeling tip top and am really very tempted to have a little snooze.... Must keep reading...?

01:45 Sleepy Time
A massive bought of coughing after my last post put paid to any chance of sleep so I have been reading Matched by Ally Condie instead.  This was a 99p Kindle Daily Deal earlier this week and so I bought it as a potential read for this weekend.  I now need to stop reading and get some sleep!

Final Update
My internet went a bit wonky but when I woke up I finished Match and also the second Scott Pilgrim book.  So that's 1493 pages (or 5 books) in 24 hours.  Not bad!  I do so love an excuse to spend the weekend reading :)

Saturday, 30 August 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

Readers Imbibing Peril IX
(Art by Abigail Larson)
I can't believe that it's already time for my annual RIP read which is hosted by the lovely Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Not only is it that I don't know where this year has gone but I am slightly shocked this is the ninth year of the event!  I have taken part in this for the last six years and it's become a tradition to seek out, and set aside, material in anticipation.

As ever, this is about reading and watching material from the genres of...
Dark Fantasy.

Being a wet and a weed, this isn't my normal genre so what I love about this challenge is that it pushes me to read books that I normally wouldn't seek out and I have had some great experiences in previous years.  The lovely thing about this challenge is that Carl has two simple rules:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

I look forward to getting started and seeing what everyone else gets up to over at the R.I.P. IX review site.

Friday, 15 August 2014

My Cutting Garden

 I am really lucky to have a largeish garden which is split into the "main garden" and the "veg patch/wildlife zone". We have lived in our home for four years now and I have started to make good inroads into transforming the main garden from weedy bramble patch to pretty English country garden.  However...  With the exception of my gorgeous selection of David Austin repeat roses and Hydrangea 'Annabelle', I find myself unable to deplete the plants in the main garden to cut flowers for vases and I absolutely love having pretty flowers around the house during the summer.

Embedded image permalink
Cut flowers with visiting butterfly
The veg patch was a good idea in theory. It's surrounded by my wilderness bits of garden to encourage wildlife into the same area and it has a couple of permanent beds (asparagus and raspberries) and then several 8x4 foot beds for seasonal crops.  All sounded great during the design stage but out of sight meant out of mind and for the last couple of years I have miserably failed to harvest most of the veg I was growing on time! So in May I took the decision to jack in my vegetable patch, to move courgette, tomato, salad, etc. production into large pots / small beds nearer the kitchen back door and use this space to start off a cutting garden instead.

To kick myself off, I bought a handful of perennials from the garden centre (mainly to trial them as cutting flowers) and popped them into the ground.  I then bought some packs of seeds from the absolutely fantastic Higgledy Garden, made some lines with string and filled up most of my space.  And then I waited a bit and weeded between the rows a bit.  As ever with annuals, it feels like nothing could ever grow fast enough to pick this year but from around 4 weeks ago I have had non-stop flowers to pick.

The photo I have posted at the top is from last week and everything I've used in those vases are keepers. What I love most is that they are also (mostly) really insect friendly and as you can see a butterfly popped by to have a snack whilst I was taking my picture.  So far my favourites from my trials have been:


  • Echinacea Purpurea
  • Rudbeckia 'Marmalade'
  • Rudbeckia Hirta 'Prairie Sun' & 'Autumn Colours' (these have been really great performers)
  • Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting Sweet Pea)
  • Leucanthemum 'Broadway Lights'

I also have some perennials I hope to trial properly next year as I sowed the seeds in this which include a couple of the Aquilegia Barlow family, mixed Delphiniums and Knautia 'Melton Pastels'.  I sowed some (very late!) Sweet Peas that are just coming into flower.  Unfortunately the marker pen I used has proven not to be as waterproof as advertised so I have absolutely no idea what the gorgeous varieties  now emerging are but they are great to mix in with the flowers from the very prolific everlasting variety which is sadly scentless.

(some of) today's flowers
All of the above favourites are definite keepers for next year (I must be ruthless, I must be ruthless) but I realised when I started picking that my most prolific plants are mostly yellows so I definitely need to add more variety including some greens!!  Having said that at the moment I am getting some nice paler mixes too (see second pic) and luckily I have some self-seeded dill in the veg patch that I've been able to use. I do have the vibrant green establishing Alchemilla Mollis plants in the main garden but think I need to move some up into the cutting patch so I remember to pick more green!

Even though the Summer is not over, I'm already thinking about the changes I want to make so next year I'm also going to trial:

Annuals: Ammi Majus, Ammi Visage, Bupleurum Griffithii, Celosia 'Flamingo Feather' & Dill Mammoth which should have more impact than the bog standard version I had this year. I'm also thinking about possibly adding some Larkspur as I might feel less guilty about picking them than I do about my mixed Delphiniums!

Perennials: Echinacea Primadonna White, Echinops 'Ritro', a long stemmed Lavender and mixed Scabiosa too.

I also need to think about how I extend the life of my picking season.  I'm really lucky in that the "wilderness" part of my garden is absolutely filled with bluebells in spring - so many that I can happily cut them for a few weeks.  I also have several large clumps of chives which I used as early flowers along with a few daffodils that I allowed myself to pick very sparingly from the main garden.

Overall, I am really pleased with the transition from veg patch to cutting garden and am already looking forward to Version 2.0 in 2015!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

Oh dear.  I managed to delete my first post somehow which is a bit of a pain as I am spending precious reading time doing another one!..  Actually. Here's the very brief version of my previous lengthy Hour Zero post instead:

Hour Zero:
I have not posted to this blog for three years.  How did that happen?  But. Yay!  It's time for the 24 hour read-a-thon which I last took part in waaaaay back in 2009. Seriously.  Where has time gone?  Then I completed the Hour Zero introductory meme in which I said I live in a cottage near Norwich (which is in the UK), that I am most looking forward to reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and that I have settled myself into a wingback chair with my kindle, in proximity to the kettle and with a stack of graphic novels beside me.

Final Update
I didn't spend as much time reading book as I intended to but the two I started and finished were just perfect for this.  I spent a lot more time than I meant to visiting other blogs and enjoying the challenges but isn't that the point?  I would have finished my last book if it hadn't been actually sunny for once and I just couldn't resist going into the garden to read.  Except once I got out there then I started to feel bad about all the things that I needed to do in the garden and spent the last couple of hours planting seeds and potting up. It's so very nice to be warm outside I just couldn't resist!  :)

Currently Reading: Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan

Books Finished: 2
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (short review: I LOVED IT!)
Nearly a Lady by Alissa Johnson  (short review: This was great fun and I hearted the leads!)

Total Pages Read: 723 (£12.50)

Total Time Spent Reading Just Books: 395 mins

Hours "fined" for not doing read-a-thon activities:  14 hours (£35). This was caused by Dinner, The Wire, Sleep & Planting Seeds (I had to - it was sunny! In England!)

Money for Book Aid International: £47.50 - but I will round it up to £50 as that seems like a nice thing to do.

Explanation about the donation:
I am taking part in the Read-a-thon Reading for Charity initiative spearheaded by Felicia the Geeky Blogger (here's a list of the other participants) and I will be donating to Book Aid International.

I'm going to donate £2.50 for every 100 pages I read and I will also fine myself £2.50 per hour for the hours in which I am not engaged in a read-a-thon related activity. 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

I think it's an illness...

My name is Peta and I am a bibliophilic.

Recently, in comments, Jodie from Book Gazing assured me that if my TBR pile was not falling over then it was not too big. Erm. I don't think I could actually carry all the books I own but have not read towards a pile without putting my back out! My addiction is such that, off the top of my head, and yes just for this month so far, I've bought at least 13 books. So that's an average of one a day... Gulp.

It's time to face an unpalatable home truth. I honestly can not keep buying/receiving books at the rate I have been over the last few months and a) hope to find space to home them or b) actually ever read them all! Oh - and c) remain solvent!

When we moved house in May last year my TBR shelf (so more like twoish shelves...) got muddled up with the rest of my books so it's been relatively easy to hide the growing scale of the "problem" from myself. And, more importantly, my husband! Last night I went through my books and pulled all the TBRs into one area. This area is five shelves of books. Yes. Five shelves, each 80cm long, packed with books. Right. So I have four metres of books that I own and have not read. And that excludes oversize books like reference (e.g. I just had to buy a copy of Brewster's Dictionary in January) and graphic novels!

Yep. It's time to go cold turkey. I officially declare that from henceforward No More Books* will enter this house until at least my birthday - which is in June. No more reading a book review and moments later buying the damn thing. No more falling for tempting 2 for £7 deals at the supermarket. No more "just quickly looking" in charity shops then walking out with a bag I can barely carry. No more "reference books" that I neeeeeeeeded for the garden/veg patch.

In a heroic demonstration of my commitment to change, I have even managed to resist the lure of purchasing books for next month's "Women Of" reading clubs and actually been organised enough to place reservations for both Prospero Lost & Darkship Thieves with my library**. What heroic fortitude I am displaying and I am sure that they could do with the additional income of £1.10!

On a more serious note, and I think it's worth the digression, I do realise just how lucky I am to live in Norfolk, where the council is not closing a single one of our 47 libraries which serve around 250,000 active members. Just to our south, Suffolk council hopes to shut at least 20 of its 44 branches. Whilst I am very aware that the cuts have to come from somewhere, I hope that the government do step in to stop at least some of the cuts as once closed I can't imagine they'd re-open in the future.

So to summarise. No more book buying and reduce the TBRs by at least a metre by the end of the year!

* OK so I can't bring myself to cancel my pre-order for The Wise Man's Fear in March, the sequel to the fabulously awesome The Name of the Wind, and the two books already in transit to me don't count either...

** Although if I really enjoy them I reserve the right to add them to my wish list! :)

Monday, 3 January 2011

Sci-Fi Experience 2011

I can't really believe that, firstly, we're in the second decade of this century and, secondly, that it's already time for my (third) annual participation in Stainless Steel Dropping's Sci-Fi Experience which runs until the end of February. Where on earth does time go to?

The "rules" are very simple and, as Carl says, "This is simply an opportunity to get together as a community and share a love of science fiction." I have a large stack of Christmas loot to get through and, for me, this is the perfect time of year to curl up and explore other worlds and new ideas without feeling too guilty about neglecting the huge amount of gardening we have to do. I consciously "save up" books for all of Carl's various challenges and am particularly looking forward to tucking into:
  • Peter F Hamilton's HUGE Night's Dawn Trilogy which totals c. 3600 pages... Gulp.
  • The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson (and possibly Anathem too)
  • Alistair Reynold's Chasm City
  • Dust - Elizabeth Bear
If I have time, I'd also like to use this as an excuse to return to Neal Asher's Polity series as I read, and really enjoyed, Gridlinked in last year's experience but somehow have not got around to reading any more of them.

As ever half the fun is seeing what other people are enjoying and using it as the perfect excuse to buy (or borrow) more! I'm also taking part in two book clubs this year that focus on female Sci-Fi & Fantasy authors and it's going to be really hard to resist reading some of the applicable books lined up for later in the year that are ready and waiting in my "library". The Elizabeth Bear book above is one of these reads so at least I can knock one off the TBR pile I have waiting! What temptation...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Graphic Novels Challenge - 2010 Wrap

At the start of 2010 I signed up for The Graphic Novels Challenge, which I will be participating in again in 2011. I am really pleased that I read 19 books that (more or less) fit into my own loose definition of a graphic novel. I tried to make my choices varied but I am sure that I am only scraping the surface of the genre and I know from the bits of paper sticking out of my copy of 500 Essential Graphic Novels that there are plenty more out there to track down!

What really struck me when I was copying the list over was that, with the exception of The Guild, they were all written by men! What's that all about? I'll have to do some investigating and try to find some more female authors for 2011 as I think that the only one I have ever read is Marjane Satrapi's excellent Persepolis.

I'm kicking myself that I stopped reviewing in April but my 2010 graphic novel highlights, from a very strong selection, were Girl Genius (I sooooo wish I could afford to buy all the colour editions!), Absolute Sanman, The Guild and Blankets. None of which I would have read without the blogging community egging me on so thank you and I look forward to seeing what next year brings!

2010 Graphic Novels:
Murder Mysteries - Neil Gaiman & P. Russell Craig
The Magic Flute - P. Russell Craig
Absolute Sandman - Vol 1 - Neil Gaiman
Pyongyang: Journey in North Korea - Guy Delisle
Girl Genius: Omnibus 1 - Phil and Kaja Foglio
Death Note volumes 1 & 2 - Tsugumi Ohba
1: Out from Boneville & 2: The Great Cow Race - Jeff Smith
The Adventures of the Princess and Mr Whiffle - Patrick Rothfuss
When The Wind Blows - Raymond Briggs
The Unwritten: Vol 1 - Mike Carey & Peter Gross
Harlequin Valentine - Neil Gaiman & John Bolton
Comics: The Invisible Art - Scott McCloud
The Invention of Hugo Cabet - Brian Selznick
That's Not My Cow - Terry Pratchett
The Guild - Felicia Day & Jim Rugg
We3 - Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
Blankets - Craig Thompson