An Leughadair

An Leughadair

I tend to read non-fiction: history, archaeology, folklore, Gaelic polytheism, and witchcraft.  I listen to fiction: Scandi-Nordic crime, magical realism, and Scottish authors.

Review
5 Stars
"Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders" by Neil Gaiman
Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman
 
Author: Neil Gaiman
ASIN: B005GL95T0
 
Why did I read it? Well, I had listened to two other books by Neil Gaiman: one being a collaboration with Terry Pratchett, "Good Omens"; and the other being the 10th anniversary edition of "American Gods", which I truly enjoyed. Given this was a selection of short stories, and prose, I thought it would be entertaining for my commute. And, so it was!
 
What's it about? Bizarre tales, short stories, the odd poem, and, finally, a little epilogue to "American Gods". A rather odd collection, though nicely set out, which I imagine can be dipped in an out of at random (if you have the hard copy, and aren't listening to Neil Gaiman narrate them himself). Tales of mythical creatures, legends, and some snatched from fragments of folklore. Included are stories from Neil Gaiman's early writings revised, edited and included here; one is a birthday gift to his daughter; and each is a wonder tale.
 
What did I like? Every, single story, and poem. Really, I did! This collection kept me engaged, wanting to listen to every word, and not miss a moment. Neil Gaiman is a writer of the odd, the unusual, the supernatural, the other worlds and so his tales have twists not found in other stories, but once found in the myths of old.
 
There is a sense of humour to be found in the works, as well. Sometimes authors forget to include this in darker tales, but life, or indeed fantasy, is not just one dimensional - or shouldn't be.
 
Neil Gaiman incorporates the whole of life, death, and everything in between in these tales. Neil Gaiman is also rather good at narrating his own work. This author knows how to bring a story to life, and doesn't seem to falter in his delivery. It's kind of refreshing to hear an author read his own words, even if you will never hear him do so live. The audio version, provided by Audible, was clear, and without fault.
 
What didn't I like? Nope. Can't think of anything.
 
Would I recommend it? Oh yes! To anyone who has read Neil Gaiman's other works, or even those of Terry Pratchett. If you want to read something a little different, this is it. I'll definitely be listening again.

 

Review
3.5 Stars
"Thin Air" (Shetland #6) by Anne Cleeves
Thin Air (Unabridged) - Kenny Blyth, Ann Cleeves
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Narrator: Kenny Blyth
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
 
Why did I read it? I had listened to Anne Cleeves' other books in the Shetland series, as read by Kenny Blyth, and enjoyed them. So, when this came up I was determined to listen.
 
What's it about? Six Londoners arrive on Unst for a hameferin (marriage celebration) of two of their number, the groom being a native of Unst. Eleanor and Polly both claim to have sighted Peerie Lizzie, the legendary ghost of a child who is meant to foretell a birth, even though the child herself drowned. Late one night after the celebration, when they have gone to bed, Eleanor disappears - seemingly into thin air. Jimmy Perez and Willow Reeves arrive in Unst to investigate the disappearance, but it seems these latest sightings of Peerie Lizzie are a precursor to murder. The frequent mists, and fogs on Unst add to the confusion of the case.
 
What did I like? The use of the weather, landscape, and folklore to add to the confusion of the characters. Here, Jimmy Perez is recovering from the loss of Fran, and is endeavouring to get back on track, but he continually makes connections to his own life, showing he is not quite focussed, and the fogs and mists swirling around Unst reflect that. They way this book is assembled feels disjointed - seemingly random snippets here and there that don't seem to be shared among the other detectives investigating - but this enhances the feel of the story. The use of folklore to blur the edges of reality, and disguise the truth is also pleasing. The undercurrents normally detected within crime novels are harder to view. I must admit to having little sympathy for other than the detectives in this book, even though the characters were quite filled-out. There was a distance seemingly placed between the suspects and the reader.
 
Kenny Blyth's narration was pleasing, with accents applied accordingly, but not so heavy as to not be able to understand what was being said. The pace of the narration was just right, too, allowing tension to build towards the end without running breathlessly towards it.
 
What didn't I like? At times, I lost concentration, and had to rewind the audio to recapture the lost information. I am not sure why this is, but it was a little frustrating. I also dislike reading books out of order. Although I have read the Shetland series in the order they are published, but jumping back and forth in the time of the main character, Jimmy Perez.
 
Would I recommend it? Yes. I would. Each book in the Shetland series can be read alone, so newcomers would be enjoy it, as would those familiar with the series, or indeed the author.
Review
4.5 Stars
"Kidnapped" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped - Kieron Elliott, Robert Louis Stevenson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author:  Robert Louis Stevenson
Narrator: Keiron Elliott

ISBN:  9781490655758

 

Why did I read it?  Scotland has long held my interest, and I thought that since I had not read many of its authors, I ought to dive in, and, having listened to the BBC Radio Scotland, Scotland Outdoors podcast where they followed the route David Balfour takes in the book, I was keen to start with this, once of Scotland's most famous novels.

What's it about?  Upon the death of his father, David Balfour is given a letter of introduction to Ebenezer Balfour, of Shaws House in Cramond.  The welcome he receives from that man runs hot, and cold in turns.  Mr Balfour proposes a visit to a lawyer, having been foiled in an attempt to cause David's death by sending him up a tower without light.  The next day a young cabin boy arrives, Ransome, and he guides them to a ship, where David is coaxed on board, before being knocked out, and so the adventures begin.

What did I like?  This is a "boy's own adventure" style story, and it did keep me wondering at how it would be resolved.  I liked the mixture of fact with fiction, and the characters were very well drawn. There is a romantic taint to the tale, which refrained from being overly sentimental however.

Mr Kieron Elliott gave an excellent performance as narrator with his Scottish accent.  I chose this edition over other audio formats, based on samples of voices, and I'm glad I chose this version.  It was a lively narration, clear, even with the Scottish dialect.  In fact, the audio production was good overall, with only one or two changes in tone, voice, and quality to mar the presentation.

What didn't I like? It was a slow start. I struggled to hold on through those first few chapters, but I'm glad I did.  The language, being a little old fashioned, took some getting used to - and I am used to the language of Jane Austen.  Eventually I was able to follow the rhythm, if not the Latin.

Would I recommend it?  Yes.  Absolutely. I think pre-teen boy readers might enjoy the tale far more than I.  That said, I am going to delve into the sequel, Catriona, if I can find a narrator such as Kieron Elliott.  This edition of Kidnapped was purchased from Audible., and was published by Recorded Books.

 

Rating:  4½/5

Reading progress update: I've listened 360 out of 547 minutes.
Kidnapped - Kieron Elliott, Robert Louis Stevenson
Reading progress update: I've listened 227 out of 547 minutes.
Kidnapped - Kieron Elliott, Robert Louis Stevenson

I found this a rather slow story to start, but it's getting quite good now.

Club Leughaidh Cuilean Craicte

An deagh naidheachd: tha sinn a-nis air letheach slighe dhan àireimh de dh'fho-sgrìobhaidhean a cheadaicheas dhuinn cumail oirnn agus sia mìosan eile de leabhraichean-caibideil Gàidhlig dha cloinn 7-12 a chur a-mach. Naidheachd nach eil cho math: gus 100 ball a ruigsinn air 31 Cèitean, feumaidh sinn triùir bhall ùra co-dhiù gach uile latha dhan uair sin.

 

An cuidich thu sinn a chuideachadh cloinn ri leughadh airson tlachd anns a' Ghàidhlig? Bhiodh sinn fada nad chomain nam b' urrainn dhut bruidhinn ri caraidean agus ris an teaghlach mu Chlub Leughaidh Cuilean Craicte, am fiosrachadh a sgaoileadh, agus soighnigeadh cuideachd, mur an do rinn thu mar-thà e!

 

Ma dh'obraicheas sinn còmhla, togaidh sinn coimhearsnachd de luchd-leughaidh Gàidhlig òga - ach feumaidh sinn cuideachadh bhuat an toiseach.

 

Airson barrachd fiosrachaidh agus gus soighnigeadh: Fo-sgrìobh


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The good news: we’re nearly half way to the number of subscriptions that will let us go ahead and produce another six months of Gaelic chapter books for kids aged 7-12. The not so good news: to get to 100 members by May 31 we need at least three sign-ups per day between now and then.

Can you help us help children to read for pleasure in Gaelic? We’d be really grateful if you could talk to friends and family about Club Leughaidh Cuilean Craicte, share our information, and sign up if you haven’t already!

If we all work together we can build a community of young Gaelic readers – but we need your help.

For more information and to sign up: Subscribe

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 30%.
Secrets of the Sea House (Unabridged) - Elisabeth Gifford

This story is set on Harris in the Outer Hebrides, and incorporates elements of folklore, and history.   A slow starter, but I'm beginning to enjoy it.

Reading progress update: I've read 55%.
Death of a Dustman: Hamish Macbeth, Book 16 (Unabridged) - M.C. Beaton

I thought it was all over, but it wasn't.

Reading progress update: I've read 90%.
Guilt  - Jussi Adler-Olsen, Martin Aitken, Steven Pacey

Just as it's getting exciting, I arrive at work and have to wait hours before hearing what happens. 

Review
4.5 Stars
The Waves of ManannĂ¡n mac Lir, the Irish God of the Sea
The Waves of Manannan Mac Lir: The Irish God of the Sea - Charles W. MacQuarrie

Why did I read it?  I was searching out a reasonably priced copy of "The Biography of the Irish God of the Sea from the Voyage of Bran (700 A.D.) to Finnegans Wake (1939): The Waves of Manannán" by Charles W. MacQuarrie when I stumbled upon this children's book by the Isle of Man based publishers, Lily Publications Limited.   Given there are few books out there for children on the Irish myths - most are out of print and hard to come by - I thought I should like to read it.


What's it about? This collection of stories about Manannán mac Lir has been translated and freely adapted by the author with the intention of being suitable for children. In these stories Manannán serves as a tester, and a teacher to the mortals he encounters. Sometimes he appears as a nobleman, and sometimes as a churl; sometimes he imparts his wisdom gently, and sometimes gingerly; sometimes he teaches philosophy, and sometimes good manners, but he always seems to have the best interests of civilization at heart.

What did I like?  Although this collection is aimed at children, I found it difficult to discern which age group.   The book is a very quick read, containing four tales, along with intermittent illustrations in the form of watercolours.  It took me less than an hour to read all 54 pages, even with distractions. The stories are heavily condensed, and easily digestible on the whole.  

What didn't I like?  There is a mix of English dialects within the text: American, English, and Irish, and I found this somewhat jarring, along with some obvious editorial mistakes, and strange, seemingly out-of-place sentences, which might be the result of translation issues(?).   I also struggled with one or two words in the text, though I fortunately had an online dictionary nearby.   Two, consecutive tales where Manannán meets Finn may have parents answering some awkward questions about how Finn can end up dead in the first story, but walking in the forest on the next page, in the next tale as though nothing has happened.

Would I recommend it? Yes.  It's a rarity.  However, I do so with the caveat of not knowing for which age group the material is suitable.

Rating: 4.5/5

Review
4.5 Stars
"An Irish Country Wedding" by Patrick Taylor
An Irish Country Wedding - Patrick Taylor, John Keating

Why did I read it? I have thoroughly enjoyed all the other books in the "Irish Country" series written by Patrick Taylor in audio format, and as this is the seventh book of nine (thus far) I had to read it.

What's it about? Dr Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly and Kitty O'Hallorhan are (finally) going to make it down the aisle after many years, and Dr. Barry Laverty is set to say his farewells to Ballybucklebo. Of course, there are the usual shenanigans of the residents of Ballybucklebo to negotiate, and patients for the two doctors to attend to, and some issues to solve.

What I did I enjoy? "An Irish Country Wedding" seemed like a return to form for the series, where we are back in the 1960s, northern Ireland village and hearing about the everyday lives of the two doctors, their housekeeper, Mrs Kinky Kincaid at No. 1, and everyone else in Ballybucklebo. The last few books seem to have taken a diversion to the past, and I wasn't so enthralled as I was with this book.  The stories may not have have unusual twists, but that is part of the pleasure. Gentle humour injected into hard times, a sense of community shown with rose-tinted glasses, and escapism is what the "Irish Country" series provides.  The author, Patrick Taylor, writes with such warmth for his characters, it's very hard not to love them, even when they are misbehaving.

The audio versions of the "Irish Country" series is superb, and "An Irish Country Wedding" is no exception.  Yet again, John Keating does an excellent job of narrating these stories; I could not imagine anyone else taking up the role.  What a joy it is to listen to these books during long, boring commutes on grey days - Mr Keating's readings of these heart-warming stories really lift the spirits.

What didn't I enjoy? There is a surprise patient for the two doctors in this book, and I must admit I was very concerned, and a little upset, despite knowing the books generally have uplifting endings. It was certainly an unexpected turn.

Would I recommend it? Oh yes. These books can be read out of order, but I suggest reading them all from the beginning; you won't be disappointed.

Reblogged
[REBLOG] Some Advice From IT Professionals on How to Handle the Latest Goodreads Shenanigans

from Kaia

 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband is a programmer. He works for an international company with a high bar for its IT staff. 

 

I ran GR's latest nonsense--their claim that Booklikes is causing Goodreads content to be deleted--past him, and the verdict is that this is actually probably GR's fault. More than likely is has to do with flaws in their API code that are more like security holes than features. Other sites should never be able to delete GR user content. The fact that it may have somehow happened indicates that the blame lies with Goodreads, and they're trying to use Booklikes as a scapegoat.

 

My husband also ran this past his colleagues, who agreed that there's only one way to handle this:

 

Run. Pack up your shit and get the hell out of dodge, because Goodreads is not a site you can trust. Their API code is a mess and they're trying to blame it on someone else so they don't have to take responsibility for exposing their user base to potential security breaches. The best thing you can do for yourself is jump ship.

 

I'm appalled at Goodreads' behavior. Their lack of professionalism and unwillingness to take responsibility for their mistakes is horrifying. They're a shit snowball rolling down a hill and with each new fuck up, the mess gets uglier and uglier. Find a place that respects you as a user, a place that doesn't try to censor you and doesn't think you're an idiot who can't see through their bullshit. That place is not Goodreads. 

Reblogged from Thalia @ Pictures in the Words
Reblogged Image
Please spread this everywhere. Reblog, reblog!
Please spread this everywhere. Reblog, reblog!

Reblogging because it's important.

Reblogged from Great Imaginations

Rebel children, I urge you, fight the turgid slick of conformity with which they seek to smother your glory. ~ Russell Brand

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Missing Book Covers

I am one of the refugees from GR, and my books are currently being uploaded (it's taken over 3 days so far), but I'm struggling with getting covers.  This will be the third time I will have spent weeks scanning, and uploading bespoke covers and, hopefully, the last.

 

In the interim, I am unable to change the cover of this book: 

 

"Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic" by Bill Griffiths (ISBN:  9781898281337)
 

This is how it current looks on my shelf:

 

 

BL, Image, Book, Cover photo MissingCover-BL.jpg

 

Yet, I am unable to change it, despite having the cover scanned.

 

Any help/suggestions welcome.

currently reading

Progress: 130/448pages
Understanding Scots Law - Christina Ashton
Going Loco: Further Adventures of a Scottish Country Doctor - Tom Rob Smith, Tom Rob Smith, Isis Audio Books
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman, Neil Gaiman, HarperAudio
The Sons of Macha - John Lenahan