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About Viccie

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    reading, writing, wine, dawdling around
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  1. Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s too kind-hearted to collect his debts. They face poverty, until Miryem hardens her own heart and takes up his work in their village. Her success creates rumours she can turn silver into gold, which attract the fairy king of winter himself. He sets her an impossible challenge – and if she fails, she’ll die. Yet if she triumphs, it may mean a fate worse than death. And in her desperate efforts to succeed, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in the unhappy daughter of a lord. Irina’s father schemes to wed her to the tsar – he will pay any price to achieve this goal. However, the dashing tsar is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of mortals and winter alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and Irina embark on a quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power and love. Loosely based on Rumplestiltskin with a hefty dose of Jewish folklaw, a powerful imagination and some very strong female characters, this is a wonderful book. It passes the Bechdel test hands down, the main characters are all strong women, three of them not two, and when they do talk about men it's not about attracting them - won't say what for risk of spoliers, and the plot twists and turns in some unexpected and satisfying directions. So there's a bit of happy-ever-afterness at the end, this is a traditional tale after all, but it's on the women's terms, not anyone else's so isn't too cloying. Theonly minor quibble I'd have is the amount of head hopping - it didn't worry me but I know that lots of people hate that, however I'd recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy.
  2. We read this for our book group this month. I'd read it sometime ago and got bored as I found the mystery surrounding Ellie Deacon unconvincing and predictable, though the modern day killing of the family was far better done. To be honest it didn't improve that much on a second go. Generally everyone thought that the descriptions of place were terrific, the mystery less so. However I've also just finished listening to The Lost Man, her third book, which doesn't feature Aaron Falk, and I really enjoyed that one. She's definitely developing as a writer and I'm looking forward to her future books
  3. The Vanishing Pont - Val McDermid
  4. I read Catch 22 when I was about 18 because it was the in book of the moment. I liked it well enough then but not enough to want to re-read it.
  5. There are books that i regret reading - usually because of excessive nastiness or violence. I read Lord of the Flies when I was 13 as a school book, I got absolutely nothing from it and wish I never had opened the pages. Mercifully I've forgotten the title of the "amusing" book that had someone drowning a hamster for fun in the toilet, I think it's the only book I've ever burnt.
  6. From the blurb " In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people's lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege - the residents have it all. Life is good. There's just one problem. Olive Collins' dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they're shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight. The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive's neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death." The cover also describes this as a thriller, it isn't - it's a twisty, character driven whodunnit set in Ireland, cleverly written with vibrant charecters and an unexpected ending. The relationship between the two police offices was utterly believeable as were the inhabitants of Withered Vale. No one was perfect, no-one was all bad (including Olive who was wonderfully self-deluded about her own personality) and I absolutely loved this. I hadn't heard of Jo Spain and only bought this as a Kindle cheapie - a good find! I'll be reading more of her
  7. The Butterfly Box - Santa Montefiore
  8. Just read that - galloped through it!
  9. I got Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain whomI'd never heard of before as a Kindle cheapie and am loving it.
  10. From the blurb: n 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past for ever. Ten years later, now a producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence. There are also bookend sections at front and back set in 1981. I was really looking forward to reading this, Kate Atkinson is one of my favourtie authors, but I'm sad to say that this one is something of disappointment. It's beautifully written of course, her books always are, but I can't help feeling that though much of the plot is based on real life and her research (there's an extensive acknowledgement section at the end) she wasn't really sure where she was taking Juliet - or, if she was, she was so determined not to signal it that the plot twist at the end is so unexpected as not to be properly credible. And it may just be that I know too much about the period already but I also found that particular denoument slightly clichéd too. There is a raft of charecters, some who drift in and out, some who stay a little longer, but very few of them are more than basic charecter sketches including Juliet who is deeply naieve - quite possible for an 18 year old in 1940 but she never seems to become more worldly wise in the war years, despite having a very knowing best friend who is one of the charecters who does come alive, but she only features in the very first part of the book and is barely mentioned again until the end. All this means you stay pretty uninvolved - I didn't think the book got boring, just that unlike most of Kate Atkinson's books I could bear to put it down. She's got a new Jackson Brodie coming out in June though. Really looking forward to that.
  11. £18 million is still a lot! But there are several appeals each year for natural disasters and human nature being what it is, the extreme or unusual is what gets attention.
  12. The catherdral in Rouen, a gothic masterpiece, was practucally destroyed during the Normandy invasions and the restoration work is incredible - if it weren't for the photos showing the extent of the damage you wouldn't believe it. I think the Fenice was more in the region of a complete reconstruction from the bottom up though, it wasn't the first time it had burnt down. It's got a timber frame so it's very vulnerable to fire.The Grande Theatre in Bordeaux is supposed to be the only timber framed theatre in Europe that has never burnt down. On a glass half full note, the damege to Notre Dame doesn't seem to be as absolutely devestating as they were saying last night - at least the windows are intact and the towers were saved though I beleive the organ has gone. My daughter and I were in Paris about five years ago stayng literally next door to Notre Dame and walked in just as the sung evening service was starting. It was so beautiful it made the hairs stand up non the back of your neck.
  13. Sounds terrific - just up my street.
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