Top Ten Tuesday: 5-star Reads, or Gin & Tears

I’m quite generous with my 4-star ratings, but 5-stars is harder for me.

I have a shelf on goodreads labeled ‘ten stars’ and another one called ‘there were tears’ and those ones are the ones that I’ll throw at people, so we can talk about it.

‘There will be a test,’ I tell them.

Recent 10-stars have been:

Dept. of Speculation – Heard a bunch about this, and bought it while in NY.  Maybe that’s why it’s a tenner.  But really, pure poetry.  Found myself reading bits aloud to Neil and then threw it at him.  He hasn’t read it, yet.  But I haven’t finished Stone Junction, so we’re even.

The Last Summer of the Camperdowns – This book found me on the NY trip, too.  I loved it so much.  My gin-soaked prose shelf on goodreads was invented for this book.  I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers that don’t really move me, but this one quietly creeped me out more than any of them.  Families will do that to you.

The Interestings – I wanted to go to that camp.  I did for a while.  I lived with this book for as long as I read it, same feeling for me as May We Be Forgiven, also ten stars.  I have yet to experience a book like those two, since I read those two.

Now.

Here are some of my 4-star reads.  They might be 5-star reads for people who don’t have other requirements.  Like gin and tears.

Fates and Furies – Beautiful, but aloof.  I didn’t mind the length.  Or that nothing really happened.  That’s how life goes.  The book was worth it, but missing something.  Perhaps a heart.

American Housewife– This is a 4 because Neil bought it for me for Valentines Day.  Because he is a funny, funny man.  And because he says he has trouble finding new books that I haven’t found first.  And because I don’t like short stories, but these were great.

The ones I liked best reminded me of all the times my mother called me up wondering, ‘How’s life in your condo?’

‘It’s not a con…it’s great, Ma.  Thanks for asking.’

The Quiet Game – Sometimes I get notions.  I get notions to read new-to-me crime series set in the South.  Sometimes, I feel like staying up all night to finish a book.  That doesn’t happen much anymore.  Because, Isla.  But with The Quiet Game, I hit bingo.  Twice.

The Whites – A crime story, wrapped in New York.  Some of my favourite things.  Also, recommended by Caitlin at Broadside.  Thank you!  Anything else?

And.

Here are two pure 5-star reads.  Because, y’know, I like to be conventional.  Or something.

River Road – This one has rekindled my love for stuff set in the land of Academia.  Not the best ever, but almost, well, cozy.

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark – I very rarely read one book at a time, all the way to the end.  But this weird little thing had me at one.

So.

That’s mine.  What’s your list of 5 or 10 star books?

Gin and tears welcome, but optional.

(Post inspired by The Broke and the Bookish)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isla’s Mural

My best friend from Uni has been staying with us for the week.  She thinks she’s a physiotherapist, but she’s actually an artist.

This mural appeared on Isla’s wall in two and a half days.  Acrylic, emulsion, and magic.

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And Isla loves it.  Of course.

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Emma doesn’t have a website yet.  But I’ve decided she totally should.  So that’s pending.

Isla says thank you, Auntie Em!

The Frosty North

Since we moved in we’ve had a gas leak, the washing machine won’t drain, the toaster blew a fuse.  And today, the boiler has packed in. But it’s still our house.  And apparently, it’s well, sensitive.  So.  Leave it alone.  Unless you’d like to come and fix the heat.

Actually, the same guy who fixed our farting stove two weeks ago is making another trip to fix the heat.  Don’t worry, he knows where we live.

In other news, we are online.  And we have cable TV.  And in a fit of DIY, my husband put our spare TV on our bedroom wall.  I know, I’m embarrassed enough for the both of us.

And I’m sitting here at the kitchen table.  We have one of those, too.  In related news, the new word for ‘distressed’ is ‘reclaimed’.  Furniture is now politically correct.

Neil and I spent Valentines weekend picking out and ordering our new socially-acceptable furniture.  Because we are middle-aged romantic like that.

In related news, before we braved the shops, I said if we came home with one of those entertainment centre thingies, we’ll have crossed a line from which there’s no return.

But we were safe.  Every bleary-eyed but somehow super-charged salesperson said, ‘they don’t make those any more.’

The thing was this.  Every shiny, pointy bit of bark that passed for a ‘TV table’ was the perfect height for Isla to fist-bump any TV off of it.

And so.  We found a sideboard thing and we ordered it without the ‘ornate’ top half.  That’s what passes for creative thinking these days.

So there’s a kitchen table for the laptop, a place for the telly box and a sofa big enough for three whole butts.

I still have my old faithful bookcases crammed with books.  They’re even slightly more organised than they were when I was 18.  Not really.

But I do have a TBR bookcase now.

And there’s a bird-feeder stuck to the kitchen window.  A seagull came to investigate it one day last week.  Isla learned a new word that day.

Apparently, the boiler needs a new part.  That’s another word.

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Isla is cold.  And unimpressed with her book.

 

Do you have any funny or not-so funny stories about moving and setting up home?

 

 

Telly On The Blink

Loving:

Our new house.  Open spaces.  Boozy milkshakes (Galliano and ice-cream.)

My new MacBook.

Reading:

American Housewife, Helen Ellis.  Campari For Breakfast, Sara Crowe.

Watching:

Nothing.  We have yet to plug in the TV.  Today, Dad and I took Isla to the Peanuts movie.  Neil and I went to see Deadpool over the weekend.  Loved them both.

We should be watching season 2 of Better Call Saul.

Listening To:

Chet Faker.

Working on:

Longer blog posts.  Unpacking.  Not becoming a cliche.

Anticipating:

Being online in my own house.

Making Me Happy:

All of the above.

 

What about you?

Worthy of Note

1. Neil and I went furniture shopping in Inverness over the weekend. We decided on, and ordered stuff that does not come from Ikea.

1b. We only needed one do-over.

1c. We are still married.

2. We’re still not online in the house. Have been checking in at the library once a week, and today, I’m at Dad’s house.

3. This is me writing from my new laptop. Let’s call him Frank. Frank is good. Frank is productive. Frank is a machine.

3b. Well, yes. Frank is a machine. My point is this. Well. Never mind.

4. Neil and I got each other the same penguin-themed Valentine card. He bought mine in Edinburgh, I bought his in Portree. That’s love. And geographical weirdness.

5. Isla. Isla. Isla. She’s still great. And speaking in sentences. We don’t understand most of them yet, but she does. And that seems to work for now. She is also very tall. She is wonderful. But I am having some issues. My very independent child is A Very Independent Child. Or something.

5b. Crying on the Keyboard isn’t covered on the warranty. So I’ll stop.

More later.

Right Now

Loving:

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Isla ‘helping’ pack books.

How Isla says ‘Mammy’. And that her new word is ‘cookie’. And that now she says yes as well as no.

Homemade hazelnut lattes.

Being without my mobile phone.

Reading:

City On Fire, Garth Risk Halberg. My initial love for this book has cooled. But I understand that good books are like life, and cannot be interesting all the time.

Cuckoo’s Calling, JK Rowling. Kind of over-written, but somehow moreish.

Watching:

Recently finished Making A Murderer. I think Mr Robot is next.

Listening To:

This week’s writing background was Harry Potter and Miss Saigon.

The update on Serial Season One

Working on:

A story. With a prompt from Gabi Coatsworth.

Anticipating:

Well, we get the keys tomorrow. And we move on Saturday! That’s quite enough excitement for now. Also, Spring.

Making Me Happy:

Thinking about tomorrow. And the weekend. And next week. And on we go…

 

What about you?

This Is What We’re Going to Do

And so, I said yesterday  all the days that I want to write more.

This is how I’m going to do it.

Write 500-1,000 words a day.  Fiction or non-fiction.  Story or essay.

Read a book a week.  Doing Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge to help with this. Although, I really don’t need any help with this one!

Write/Draft one complete short story a week.  From a prompt or my, um, archives.  Open to story sparks, if you’d care to throw them at me.  Might post my efforts here for feedback.

Journal daily.  Not really into the concept of Morning Pages these days.  But we shall see.

Write more snail-mail.  I used to be really big on this.  Freed me up for other writing, and I met some wonderful friends.  Anyone wanna be penpals?

Subscribe to magazines again.  I love mail that isn’t bills.  My favourite magazines have been Lonely Planet Traveller and National Geographic.  What are your favourite magazines?  

And y’know, accountability and all that bullshit  good stuff.  I will mostly report back to Isla, ha!  But I’ll also try to blog here at least three times a week.  More is a bonus and may be a list.

A note on time management.  Isla still takes an afternoon nap.  She’s a good kid.  Words will happen when she sleeps, either in the afternoon or at night.

Let’s see if we can pretend there’s 25 hours in a day.