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What I read in November 2018 (Part 1)

The Art of Coorie How to Live Happy the Scottish Way by Gabriella Bennett

This book was promoted by its publisher, Black and White Publishing, on #TheTalkoftheTown in September. The Talk of the Town is a biweekly link-up for book bloggers. I have been linking posts there for several months. The bloggers co-hosting the link-up are Lindsay (Bookboodle) and Shaz from Jera’s Jamboree. Each month there is a giveaway. I was surprised to learn that I had won this book.

Gabriella Bennett is a journalist and the book has a similarity to glossy magazines, although the pages are matt. It is a very handsome hardback volume. The theme of the book is living cosily in spite of the Scottish climate and the midges!

I am not Scottish, but after England, where I live some fifty miles from the border with Scotland, I have spent more time in Scotland than in any other country. I also have some lovely Scottish friends.

I read the book from cover to cover and found much of interest. It is well-organised, well-designed and quirky, perhaps aimed at younger people. Once the idea of having a custom play list while entertaining friends had been mentioned, the book itself had a “Now playing” accompaniment. I found all the tracks on YouTube later. Some of them were more to my taste than others.

The linguistic style uses Scottish dialect words, as might be expected from the title. A glossary is included part way through. I found it much easier to follow the text than to follow the speech of some Glaswegians, whose company I have had on intercity trains. (They tend to speak rather quickly. One of the joys of reading is that the reader sets the pace and can reread anything, which needs extra thought.)

There are many aspects of The Art of Coorie, which match my own interests – walking, textiles, language, tradition, countryside, and beautiful photographs. It is a gentle book with ideas for places to eat, buy books and go camping (not my idea of fun!). There are even recipes for food and drink.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Scotland. There is sure to be something to catch the imagination, even if some sections are skipped. It would look well on any coffee table.

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What I read in October 2018 (Part 2)

Both the books reviewed here were from the local library. The first was on a display ahead of National Poetry Day.

The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

This is a beautifully produced hardback book with a ribbon bookmark. It is the both first of the poet laureate’s books, and the first, which I have read. Many of the poems include references to bees. I should like to read this with a group and discuss the poems. My own reading of it was rather superficial. It is a book to dip into rather than to read for hours on end. I read the poems in the order they were printed, apart from looking ahead to one of local interest to me. I enjoyed this book.

Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees by Roger Deakin

I began reading this book before the two works of fiction reviewed in the previous post. It is narrative nonfiction and takes a great deal of concentration. I was tempted to give up, but then I found some really interesting parts and resolved to finish reading it. I had to renew it twice, although I might have finished it within six weeks, had I not had a week away. I finished reading it at the beginning of November.

I have already read and reviewed Waterlogged, Roger Deakin’s earlier book. I learned about him through reading books by Robert Macfarlane, his literary executor. After I finished reading Wildwood I looked at the copyright page and discovered that this book was published posthumously. I wonder whether a more readable version might have resulted had there been an opportunity for correspondence between the author and an editor. The book is divided into sections, but it is relatively unstructured and seemed to end abruptly. At one point it takes seven pages to reveal the name of the person making the change from first person singular to first person plural necessary.

I love trees and find wooden objects attractive. I have enjoyed walks in forests in England, Scotland, Wales and Oregon. Wildwood broadened my horizons even more than my own travel! There is a great deal of fascinating information about trees, forests and people who live and work in woodlands in many parts of the world. When he was overseas, Roger Deakin compared the landscape with familiar places in Britain. (I had been more surprised by the similarities between species in Oregon, than differences. I had expected it to be more foreign. This seems to be a human tendency – to relate the new to the known. It works well in Deakin’s descriptions of foreign places.)

Walnuts, apples, ash trees, eucalyptus, farmers, craftsmen, folk traditions, and almost anything imaginable connected with wood are included. As it is a travel book as well as a nature book, photographs would have been an interesting addition. However there are illustrations at the start of each chapter. There is a lot of description, setting scenes and describing tools, gadgets and more in detail. A glossary of technical and foreign terms might also have helped readers.

Although I have made some critical comments about this book, I am glad I persevered with it. There is a lot of good writing and interesting information in it.

I don’t usually read reviews by other bloggers before posting my own, but as I had some strong views about this book, I searched for other reviews. The first one I found agreed with me that an index would be useful in the paperback edition.

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What I read in October 2018 (Part 1)

I ordered both these books from the local bookshop. I had read the earlier books in both series. The latest books were equally enjoyable.

The Cairo Brief by Fiona Veitch Smith

This is a recent publication (September 2018). The earlier books in the series are The Jazz Files, The Kill Fee and The Death Beat. All have the strap-line: Poppy Denby Investigates. Poppy Denby continues to lead an exciting life in this historical novel. The scene-setting first chapter was a different approach. I read this book from cover to cover over a couple of days. There are unresolved issues (unconnected with the mystery solved here), which I hope to read about in the next book in the series.

Destiny’s Ruin by Philip S. Davies

This is the third book in the trilogy. Destiny’s Rebel and Destiny’s Revenge precede it. I read it in an afternoon, although it required more imagination than the other book reviewed here. It is a book intended for older children. The main character, Katelin, has learned from her earlier experiences, but is still recognisable as the rebel from the first book. There is sound advice woven into the story, which ends satisfactorily after some unexpected twists and turns.

This YA (Young adult) book was launched towards the end of September 2018.