Thursday, 7 December 2017

Beautiful walking from Navajas

Revisiting our previous haunts again, we drove over to Navajas this week to hike in the hills there. Navajas was a little further away from Moncofa than we thought - about an hour's drive. We pitched up in the town's campsite, Camping Altomira, during our first European caravanning winter five years ago. That campsite is on a steep hill which our car at the time struggled to tow the caravan up!

It was fun to see sights we remembered such as the Fountains Walk which takes in a number of fresh water springs along the riverside. The waterfall, Salto de la Novia, has a 30 metre drop and, we thought, had more water tumbling this time around than back in March 2014.

Dave plotted us a figure 8-shaped walk starting at the Manuel Rodriguez Vasquez statue pictured above. It's a romantic interpretation of the Salto de la Novia fable of young lovers throwing themselves to their deaths over the waterfall (I think). We walked for about four hours with a picnic midway. We walked to the waterfall then up the side of the gorge into scented pine woods. The uphill slog was longer than we remembered! Instead of orange groves as around Moncofa, Navajas agriculture seems to be mostly almond orchards - all looking very bare at this time of year.


Revisitant notre endroits précédentes, cette semaine nous avons allé en voiture à Navajas pour faire un ballade dans les collines. Navajas de Moncofa était un peu plus loin que nous avons pensé - environ une heure. Nous avons resté dans le camping municipal, Camping Altomira, pendant notre premier hiver Européen en caravane. Il y a cinq ans. Cet camping est sur une colline escarpée. Notre voiture à ce moment-là eu du mal à tracter la caravane là-haut!

C'était amusant de voir les spectacles que nous nous rappelons. Il y a un sentier des sources au bord de la rivière. La chute d'eau qui s'appelle Salto de la Novia se mesure 30 mètres haut. Nous pensons qu'il y avait plus d'eau maintenant qu'en mars 2014.

Dave nous a comploté un route en forme d'un chiffre 8. Nous avons marché pendant quatre heures avec un pique-nique au milieu. Nous commençons près de la statue au haut de cet post. C'est une interprétation romantique de la fable Salto de la Novia. Deux jeunes amants se jettent eux-mêmes au morts en la chute de l'eau (je pense).

Nous avons marché jusqu'à la chute de l'eau, puis avons monté la gorge et entré dans un bois des pines parfumés. Nous avons fait un grand effort et le chemin était plus long que nous avons rappelé. Au lieu de les orangeraies, comme en Moncofa, le plupart d'agriculture pres de Navajas est les amandes. Tout les arbres sont dénudés en décembre.



Tuesday, 5 December 2017

#WorldReads - Five Books From Scotland

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their book review pages. Or click on bookshop names to visit their websites and buy a copy. Bookshop links are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission from your purchase.

This month's country is Scotland! I took part in Peggy's Read Scotland Challenge over at Goodreads for a couple of years so had quite a choice of Scottish-authored books from which to choose for this post. I hope you will find one to tempt you amongst the five, plus I'm reviewing my latest Scottish read, The Things We Learn When We're Dead by Charlie Laidlaw, over on Literary Flits today (from noon).



The German Messenger by David Malcolm

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Late 1916. Europe is tearing itself apart in the Great War. Harry Draffen, part Greek, part Scottish, British secret agent, cosmopolitan, polyglot, man of violence, is having a bad war. Now he is instructed to uncover a plot by the Central Powers against England. From the slums of East London to an Oxford college, from the trenches on the Western Front to an isolated house on the Scottish coast, on to a bloody showdown in the North of England, he chases a phantom and elusive German messenger.



Donny's Brain by Rona Munro

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This audio play is part of L.A. Theatre Works' Relativity Series, featuring science-themed plays.

Donny (Jared Harris) has awoken in hospital after a car crash. His head injury resulted in brain damage leaving him with no memory of the past three years. As far as he is concerned this time might as well have not happened. He doesn't recognise his wife of two years, Trish (Siobhan Hewlett) and believes he is still happy in his previous relationship with Emma (Sophie Winkleman), and stepfather to her daughter Fiona (Moira Quirk). Neurologist Al (Paul Fox) is using Donny's situation for research and persuades Emma to visit the hospital.



The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

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As the clock chimed the turn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite took her first breath. Born to a cabaret dancer and soon orphaned in a scandalous double murder, Lilly finds refuge at a Catholic orphanage, coming under the wing of the, at times, severe Sister August, the first in a string of lost loves.
Gripping and darkly seductive, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite showcases all the glitter and splendour of the brief heyday of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hollywood to its golden age. As it foreshadows the horrors of the Second World War, the novel asks what price is paid when identity becomes unfixed and the social order is upended.



Goblin by Ever Dundas

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A novel set between the past and present with magical realist elements. Goblin is an outcast girl growing up in London during World War 2. Having been rejected by her mother, she leads a feral life with a gang of young children amidst the craters of London's Blitz. After witnessing a shocking event she increasingly takes refuge in a self-constructed but magical imaginary world.
In 2011, a chance meeting and an unwanted phone call compels an elderly Goblin to return to London amidst the riots and face the ghosts of her past. Will she discover the truth buried deep in her fractured memory or retreat to the safety of near madness?



The Glasshouse by Allan Campbell McLean

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Austria, 1945. World War II is drawing to a close, but RAF signals clerk David Fraser is only just beginning a 112 day sentence at the infamous Glasshouse military prison. The name alone is enough to have the bravest of soldiers quaking in their boots. For the prisoners, their stay is an unimaginable nightmare of physical and mental torture. For the guards, it provides an unrivalled outlet for their own anger and frustration.


That's it for December's WorldReads from Scotland. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Scottish-authored books! Please do Comment your own favourite Scottish books below and if you fancy buying any of the five I have suggested, clicking through the links from this blog to do so would mean I earn a small commission payment.

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited' America, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
In January I will be highlighting five books by Iranian authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

A Month in Books - November 2017


Click on the book cover images or on the book titles to visit the original Literary Flits blog posts.
Bookshop links will take you to the relevant pages of their websites and, if you make a purchase whilst there, I would receive a small commission!

This month we've got one Guest Review, eleven Spotlight posts and fifteen of my own reviews including that rarest of books - a Did Not Finish! I've read Finnish crime fiction, Australian Christmas romance, Syrian poetry, Moroccan fantasy fairy tale and American science fiction. There's a couple of historical fiction novels too so I'm pretty confident that there should be something to appeal to almost everyone!


Guest Review



Anatomy Of A Soldier by Harry Parker

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Imagine if your whole life changed in the blink of an eye . . .
Captain Tom Barnes is leading British troops into a war zone when he is gravely injured by an exploding IED. This devastating moment and the transformative months that follow are narrated here by forty-five objects, telling one unforgettable story.

Guest review by Charlie Laidlaw

I met Charlie Laidlaw on Twitter and have his novel, The Things We Learn When We're Dead, to read and review for next month. I'm planning to post about it on Literary Flits on the 5th December to coincide with WorldReads from Scotland on this blog.


Spotlights

Don't forget you could win a Spotlight post by following me and retweeting my pinned tweet on Twitter! October's winner never replied to their notification tweets so they've sadly missed out however November's winner will be notified tomorrow...



London Noir by Ann Girdharry

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Memory loss, nightmares, the urge to kill – Sophie has it all. Is it really Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Or something more sinister? Kal is about to find out…




Mick And Michelle by Nina Rossing + Giveaway + Extract

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Fifteen-year-old Mick Mullins has a great life: his parents are sweet, his sister is tolerable, and his friendships are solid. But as summer descends on Queens, he prepares to turn his carefree existence upside down by disclosing a secret he has kept long enough. It’s time to work up the courage to reveal that he is not a boy, but a girl—and that her name is Michelle. 



Winter's Siren: A Dark Reimagining of Swan Lake by Krystal Jane Ruin + Giveaway

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For the last five years, Fawn has been the star soprano of a secluded opera house, forced to sing for her kidnapper.
His daughter, Devi, waits patiently in the shadows, hiding a face so horrible that no one who’s seen it will look at it again.




The Painter's Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice by Laura Morelli + Giveaway

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Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.




AnguiSH by Lila Felix + Giveaway + Extract

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The help-wanted ad on the bulletin board at Ashland’s college was simple enough: mother seeks live-in maid for son. But it turns out Breaker James is a mess in more ways than one. He’s confined to a prison of his own making, crippled by his fear of people and any social interaction whatsoever.




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Twofer murder? What’s a twofer murder?
Twofer Murder is a treat for fans of best-selling author Lauren Carr’s fast-paced mysteries! Lauren’s latest novel contains the main characters from her three successful series: Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose mysteries.





Ours Is The Winter by Laurie Ellingham

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Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show. 



Enchant by Micalea Smeltzer + Giveaway

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Mara Pryce never imagined that her life was anything but normal and then a strange gray-eyed young man appears at her graduation. When he vanishes without a trace, she’s convinced he’s a figment of her imagination. Then he appears again and shatters her whole world. 




Ghost Owl by Nancy Schoellkopf + Giveaway

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Ghost Owl is a magical story of discovery, as a young woman seeks to understand her potential and confront her own shadow. Mariah Easter wakes up in the middle of the night to discover the world is as bright as noon—but for her eyes only.



The Haunting of Hattie Hastings by Audrey Davis

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Hattie Hastings is happily married, even if husband Gary drives her up the wall at times. When tragedy strikes, she is left alone and heartbroken, with only an assortment of family and friends to prop her up. Struggling to cope, she is left reeling when her deceased other half returns, popping up at the most inappropriate times.



The One Apart by Justine Avery

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Only one obstacle stands in his way of enjoying a normal life. He remembers every life he's lived before.
Tres is about to be born... with the biggest burden any has ever had to bear. He is beginning again - as an ageless adult trapped in an infant body.


My reviews



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Lumikki Andersson may be innocent, but she's no Snow White . . . Three and a half months have passed since Lumikki was left for dead in a snowdrift, a bullet wound in her thigh and frostbite creeping into her skin. But the scorchingly hot streets of Prague in summer provide a welcome contrast to that terrifying time, and now Lumikki just wants to move on.






Below The Surface by Leena Lehtolainen

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When a woman’s body turns up in a lake—a bullet to the back of her head—Violent Crime Unit commander Maria Kallio, freshly back from maternity leave, is fast to get on the case. The victim is ID’d as Annukka Hackman, wife of a prominent publisher and author of an upcoming unauthorized tell-all book on Sasha Smeds, Finland’s celebrated racing rally driver.



Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen + Free Book

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Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland is one of ten children of a country clergyman. Although a tomboy in her childhood, by the age of 17 she is "in training for a heroine" and is excessively fond of reading Gothic novels.




The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart

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The rules are down to you. The rules that stop you seducing your neighbour downstairs, that stop you hitting your boss, that stop you leaving your family and leaving the country. The rules that stop you living.



Dreams Of Maryam Tair by Mhani Alaoui


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My Book of the Month!

Outside of time, the legendary queen Sheherazade tells a little girl a story that has happened, and is yet to happen. Dreams of Maryam Tair brings readers to a Casablanca of myth and metaphor, of curses, witches, djinns and demons. But it is also a very present-day Casablanca: a raw, pitiless landscape of crumbling urbanism and rusty ports, of bureaucrats and student revolts, and of a deep human solitude.



Venetian Blood: Murder In A Sensuous City by Christine Evelyn Volker


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Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, forty-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend—but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. 





The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

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Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. All the slaves lead a hellish existence, but Cora has it worse than most; she is an outcast even among her fellow Africans and she is approaching womanhood, where it is clear even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a slave recently arrived from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they take the perilous decision to escape to the North. 



A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell


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Hanna Lundmark escapes the brutal poverty of rural Sweden for a job as a cook onboard a steamship headed for Australia. Jumping ship at the African port of Lourenço Marques, Hanna decides to begin her life afresh.






A Nocturnal Expedition Round My Room by Xavier de Maistre

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The sequel to de Maistre's A Journey Round My Room is another parody set in the tradition of the grand travel narrative, but this time is set over a period of only four hours.





IA Union by John Darryl Winston + Giveaway


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Naz has lost everyone that he loves. And while he may have found refuge and pause at International Academy, he has found no peace and certainly no answers. All that he knows calls to him from the streets of the Exclave and Union High School where he reunites with friends and mentors. 





Heart Note by Cassandra O'Leary + Giveaway

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Love is like a fine perfume. The top note draws you in, an instant attraction, but the Heart Note is the true essence. Like true love – a great perfume should be a woman’s perfect match. At least, that’s what perfume counter manager, Lily Lucas, tells her customers in one of Australia’s largest department stores.






African Me And Satellite TV by Jo Robinson

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For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.



Concerto Al-Quds by Adonis

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A cri de coeur or fully imagined poem on the myth and history of Jerusalem/Al-Quds from the author revered as the greatest living Arabic poet. At the age of eighty-six, Adonis, a Syrian poet, critic, essayist, and devoted secularist, has come out of retirement to pen an extended, innovative poem on Jerusalem/Al-Quds.


The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak

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Sixteenth century Istanbul: a stowaway arrives in the city bearing an extraordinary gift for the Sultan. The boy is utterly alone in a foreign land, with no worldly possessions to his name except Chota, a rare white elephant destined for the palace menagerie.



Passing by Nella Larsen

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Irene Redfield is a woman with an enviable life. She and her husband, Brian, a prominent physician, share a comfortable Harlem town house with their sons. Her work arranging charity balls that gather Harlem's elite creates a sense of purpose and respectability for Irene. But her hold on this world begins to slip the day she encounters Clare Kendry, a childhood friend with whom she had lost touch.


That's it for this month and I know I have already got some great books lined up to read and review in December including the new Festival Of The Spoken Nerd book The Element In The Room, the last novel of my Jane Austen Challenge, and my first French-book-actually-read-in-French since college (yes, over 20 years ago!) Keep up daily on Literary Flits or I will see you here at the end of the month for another round up.

Don't forget the Giveaways!

Monday, 27 November 2017

A 20 mile cycle ride back to Malvarrosa and Xilxes


We spent October and November in Camping Malvarrosa back in 2014 and I didn't immediately realise how close Moncofa is to Malvarrosa. It's only about 10 miles distant and practically flat countryside all the way! We cycled there this week to take a look and remember our previous visit. Surprisingly that campsite is almost full. Admittedly it is much smaller than Camping Moncofa, but I think we only saw one spare pitch. We cycled along the offroad Via Verde I used to use for jogging and then returned along the beach boardwalks and promenades. It really is perfect for easy cycling aound here!

On the way back we swooped again along Xilxes seafront. We had walked there a couple of days previously. I took all these photos then. I love the little beachfront villas and summer houses. Xilxes promenade is very pretty although their Mediteraneo campsite looks somewhat the worse for wear!


Nous avons passé d'octobre et novembre en 2014 dans Camping Malvarrosa et je ne savais pas qu'immédiatement comment proche est Moncofa de Malvarrosa. C'est seulement environ 16km de là et pratiquement plat pendant tout le chemin. Nous avons roulé là cette semaine pour jeter un coup d'oeil et aussi pour rappeler notre visite précédente. Étonnamment cet camping est presque complet. Il est vrai que c'est beaucoup plus petite que Camping Moncofa mais je pense que nous avons vu seulement une emplacement libre. Nous avons roulé sur la Voie Verte, j'avais l'habitude d'utiliser pour faire du jogging. Puis nous sommes retournées le long les trottoirs du bois et les promenades. C'est vraiment parfait ici pour les rounlades faciles!

Sur le chemin du retour nous s’abattit à nouveau le long du front de mer de Xilxes. Nous avions parcouru il y quelques jours auparavant. J’ai pris toutes ces photos ensuite. J’adore les petites villas en bord de mer et les maisons d’été. Xilxes promenade est très jolie, bien que leur Camping Mediteraneo ressemble un peu le pire à porter! 




Wednesday, 22 November 2017

#TreatYourself - special offers that caught my eye

With Black Friday deals clamouring for your attention everywhere this week, my monthly TreatYourself post might seem superfluous! However, here's my five suggestions anyway. And if you want your gift giving to be more thoughtful than just the latest plastic gadget craze, take a look through my Artisan Rainbow blog. There's now over 100 colourful hand- and artisan-made ideas there to choose from. Each of those small British businesses would love your custom even more than these big guys!


Alternatively, buy ethically and donate to those in need by shopping at the Ethical Superstore between now and midnight on Tuesday 28th Nov. You will get 20% off your order and for every order over £30 Ethical Superstore will make a donation to the Newcastle West End Foodbank. Last year their Black Friday promotion resulted in just under £4000 of donations!

Ceramics at Emma Bridgewater 

Casual clothing at Weird Fish 

Movies from Amazon 

and Chocolate at Thorntons