Book Review – Pigs in Clover

Pigs in Clover:  Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love With The Good Life

Author:  Simon Dawson

Pigs in Clover

I listened to this book in audio form and I have to say that it was the best audio book I have ever listened to.  I listened to the majority of it while I was working out on the treadmill and it was the first time in my life where I actually could hardly wait to get to the workout room in my building so I could hear more of the story.

This is a memoir about a husband and wife who leave London to live on a smallholding (in Canada we call them acreages) in Exmoor England, which is located in the south west part of the country.  Simon was an estate agent and his wife, Debbie was a solicitor.  One New Year’s Eve after several (many?) drinks, Debbie confides in Simon that she can’t take living in London anymore and being a solicitor and she asks him whether he would consider moving to Exmoor and getting some animals and being what we call in a Canada, a hobby-farmer.  They are at a New Year’s Eve party where the music is very loud and he cannot hear what Debbie is saying (plus the fact he has had quite a few drinks).  All he hears is the word London and agrees to whatever Debbie says.  The next day he finds out what he has agreed to.

The book goes on to tell the story of how he and his wife became totally self-sufficient farmers doing everything from raising and butchering animals for the meat, selling eggs, making cheese and wine, and eventually holding courses on these things.  They had pigs, boars, horses, goats, chickens, turkeys, geese, sheep, and dogs on this smallholding and all the adventures that come with them.

Part of what made this book so wonderful was the humorous writing style of the author and the excellent job that the narrator did of the audio book version.  Ben Allen was the narrator and did different voices for Simon and Debbie.  If was very reminiscent of the Wingfield plays where the actor does all the different voices for the characters.  A sequel to this book is also now available and it is entitled “The Sty’s The Limit”.

Five stars out of five on Goodreads.


Book Review – The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian

This is a story that has been in the media spotlight for quite a while with the book being a bestseller and the movie being nominated for an Oscar.  I kept debating whether I actually wanted to read the book or just rent the movie.  I finally decided to read the book and then rent the movie and I am so glad that I did.

There was quite a bit of technical narration in the book – for example, a description of how to make water using oxygen and other elements.  For those sections, I read them quickly and didn’t linger over them worrying that I didn’t understand it.  I accepted the premise that it was technically correct and moved on in the story.

I never read science fiction and have never enjoyed space shows or movies.  I am probably one of the very few people in North America that has never seen the original Star Wars movie, so I kept asking myself the whole time I was reading the book, why am I enjoying this so much? I think it comes down to the human aspect of the story and how this guy just never gave up and when a problem arose, he just worked at it until he had found a solution all while having a sense of humor.

Not only do I recommend this book, but I also highly recommend seeing the movie.  I don’t want to give any spoilers away so all I will say about the movie is that we get a “fuller” ending than in the book.

Four stars out of five on Good reads.

Weekend Plans

Uuuug.  You know when you have one of those days where everything takes twice as long to do as normal and its like your tongue and your mouth decide they don’t like each other and start to work independently instead of as a team?  Its one of those days!

So, I am currently reading Nicci French’s latest book – Friday on My Mind.  Nicci French is a husband and wife writing team that for years wrote stand-alone books but now they have this series with the main character being Dr. Frieda Klein.  This is the fifth book in the series.  I have to admit, I didn’t really enjoy the first book Blue Monday, but when I picked up the second book, Tuesday’s Gone, it hooked me in and I began to really enjoy the character.  You get to know Frieda very slowly and I think maybe this is why I was hesitant about the first book.  She is very cool and reserved and it takes a long time to get to know her.  She has been hurt, has had a traumatic youth and is wary but yet at the same time has this resilient strong core.  She can stand on her own two feet and look after herself quite nicely, thank you very much, but when she occasionally lets someone in, just a little bit, to help her, the reader gets this warm, cosy feeling.  I am currently on page 86 and will probably finish it sometime this weekend.  I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys mysteries/psychological reads.

I also accumulated a few books this week.  I had placed an order with Book Depository and received the new release by Elly Griffths called The Woman In Blue.  This is the Ruth Galloway series and is an automatic buy for me.  I love this character – she is down to earth, just a regular woman, but so strong and independent at the same time.  This is the sixth book in the series and I highly recommend these books.

My second book in the order is a classic – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.  This is in the Penguin cloth-bound edition (I am just loving these cloth bound editions).  I am not sure exactly when I will actually read this book but hopefully sometime this summer.

My last book is the new release by James Oswald called The Damage Done.  Again, this is a psychological thriller/police procedural/mystery.  This is the sixth book in the series set in Edinburgh.  I really like the main character and there is a nice sense of humor in these books also.  I have read the first two in the series but I really need to get on to the next ones as I am now four behind!

It is my sister’s birthday today and we enjoyed a nice lunch out and a visit to our local bookstore – if you can believe it though, neither of us bought anything! I don’t have any new releases coming out for the next few weeks that I am interested in so I am going to try to get through some of the books on my TBR shelf.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.  Gwen

Weekend Reads

In the Dark Cold GroundMy current read is “In the Dark Cold Ground” by Stuart MacBride and I am about 50% complete.  This is the tenth book in the Logan McRae series and I absolutely love it.  Picking up this series is like sitting down with an old friend that you get to spend a few hours with to catch up and have a few laughs with.  The series is set in Scotland where Logan McRae is a Sergeant with the police force.  Not only do you get a mystery/thriller but there are a lot of laughs in this series and I highly recommend it.  I’m not sure if I will finish this book this weekend or not.

The MartianIf I do, the next one on my list is The Martian by Andy Weir.  I spent a lot of time wrestling with whether I should read the book or just watch the movie but I finally decided to read it first.  I got this book from the library so I need to get it read before it’s due date back of March 29th.

So, other than reading this weekend, I have some errands to run and plan on getting together with my sister on Saturday for lunch and then a visit to our local Second Cup for a latte.  I also plan on doing some binge watching of Season 4 of House of Cards which I started last weekend on Netflix.  Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope you have a good one.


Weekend Reads/Mini Book Haul

For the month of March, I picked only three books that I was intending on reading.  Normally I read anywhere between six to nine books a month, but one of the books I picked to read was huge (The Luminaries).  Tuesday night I sat down, started it and read about 40 pages.  I was not “getting into it” – we didn’t click but I thought to myself that I could not give up yet so the next night I read another 40 pages and after I finished those pages, I threw it onto the floor and officially DNF’d it.  Eighty pages in and we were still in the first scene from page 1.  I just couldn’t do it.

I had already read one of the books I had selected for March, so back to my TBR pile I go.  On Wednesday I started Violent Ends which is about a school shooting.  The take on this book is unique in that each chapter is written by a different author and we see the shooter from the perspective of different characters in the book.  I picked up this book at The Harvard Bookstore when I visited Boston/Cambridge in September and it was classified as Young Adult Contemporary.  I was pretty leery – while I enjoy YA Fantasy, I am past the age where I easily connect with YA contemporary, but I thought I would try it.  I am about 100 pages in and am really enjoying it – especially the perspectives from the different characters.

Friday Reads March 4.2016

I anticipate that I will finish Violent Ends this weekend and I found my next read this afternoon.  I stopped into my local Chapters store and saw Stuart MacBride’s new book, In the Cold Dark Ground.  The last time I had checked, this book wasn’t to be out until April 15th so I was so excited when I saw it on the shelf today.  Stuart’s books in the Logan McRae series are an automatic buy for me and I enjoy them so much.  There isn’t a book where I haven’t laughed out loud even though this is a mystery/psychological thriller.  I am very much looking forward to starting this book.

My other purchase today was Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  I read this book quite a few years ago when it was an Oprah Book Club pick.  I normally didn’t read those picks, however, I hadn’t read many classics at that point in my life and Oprah had provided a reading chart where it worked out how many pages a day you would have to complete in order to finish it in time for the book club discussion.  If I remember correctly, it was a summer pick so we had several months to read it.  I confess that I don’t remember much about the book other than it was set in Russia and I hated the main character, Anna.  I don’t remember why and that is the reason I am going to give it a second chance.  I see all these great reviews on Mini book Haul March 4.2016book tube and so I’m starting to wonder if it was me, not the book.  You see, I really enjoy books set in Russia and I am interested in the history, so why do I remember hating this book so much???  Maybe I read it at the wrong time in my life or I was just in a very bad mood for three months 🙂  Regardless, I am going to give it another shot – also, I am such a sucker for those cloth-bound Penguin editions.  Love them!

Whatever you are reading this weekend, I hope it is bringing you joy.  Gwen