Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Tuesday 28 February 2017

February's literary house

Still steering clear of children’s books for now, my next port of call is over 800 years old and in Shrewsbury: it is Brother Cadfael’s hut. Of course, in a series the length of Ellis Peters’ Cadfael one, descriptions of the hut he has in the gardens where he tends his herb plants are littered about. It is not strictly a house but there is a bed in it, and a stove, so I feel it qualifies. It is frequently used as a hiding place, for things and for people, and as a sanctuary within a sanctuary either for those wanting to come and confide in the old brother, or for Cadfael himself to pretend some urgent job so he can miss his other monastic duties – all in the aid of a successful and fair outcome to his investigations, of course… It holds his best wines and is fragrant with the herbs from the abbey gardens in which it stands, and the cosy stove can provide sustenance to the weary traveller on cold evenings. On warm summer ones, Cadfael, with whatever hapless novice has been assigned to him, or with his friend Hugh Beringar, or alone with his wise thoughts and happy memories, can be found on the bench outside, legs stretched out, warming his old face in the last beams of the evening sun.

First draft of eighteenth chapter of Thicker than Water finished - and Helen's cover has arrived! Very exciting.

Monday 27 February 2017

A Much Travel'd Clown

A Much Travel'd Clown: Première Recordings of Scottish Bassoon Music

A new CD by my dear friend Lesley Wilson, bassoonist, is being launched next week though it can already be bought on Amazon: A Much Travel'd Clown is a great assortment of new music by mostly Aberdeen and the North based composers, and you can't but be cheerful when you hear the first piece! Proceeds will support research into Parkinson's Disease.

The official launch is in the beautiful King's College Chapel at Aberdeen University next Monday (6th. March) at 6p.m., followed by refreshments in the Divinity Library. If you can, come along!

Friday 24 February 2017

The last dragon (for now!)

Solstice, the snow dragon, heading for northern Norway - hope she flies safely!
Also, five signed copies of [book:A Knife in Darkness|33124051]available in a giveaway until 4th. March (and I think I ticked every country in the world!)
'The distant Scottish spa town of Ballater seems a world away from the stylish and familiar streets of Georgian Edinburgh, but recently married Hippolyta Napier is making a new life amidst its dark woods and pure, flowing waters. But suspicion, intrigue and death await both inside and outside her new home, and the forces of nature take few prisoners.'

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Blogtour part 2: The Magician's Workshop, Vol.2

The second book in this series takes us to the huge, very public ceremony where the young people we've been following have to stand in a queue and have their colours drawn from them - or be found blank - in front of a huge stadium of people. Of course there are theories about how the event is staged, or how statistics can be applied to gauge probabilities - all the usual things that big sporting events or elections attract. The descriptions of how the colours appear and how they differ are rather lovely, but the children's reactions to them are also well portrayed: this is a real coming-of-age trial and will govern the rest of their lives. We might think we know how it will turn out for each of them but this subtlety of the different colours, not just the black and white outcome of whether they will have colour or not, makes the results all the more interesting - and it doesn't necessarily go the way we expect it will anyway. And all through this book there is an increasing air of - perhaps not quite menace, but the quiet threat that not is all quite as it seems in this world of the authoritative and appallingly wealthy magicians and all that they project on their world. We become so engrossed with each character's story that it's not until near the end that we realise there is one storyline we have not touched on at all in this volume - then we go to it and it is more painful than any of the others, but seems to lead us closer to the heart of the mystery.

This is not my usual kind of book, and it is not aimed at my decrepit age-group, but I read it about a month ago and I keep finding myself wondering what happens next. I look forward to the next instalment!

Monday 20 February 2017

Blogtour - The Magician's Workshop

The Magician’s Workshop


This is a rich and entertaining book for young teenagers / middle-grade readers who enjoy fantasy of an imaginative kind. O’Ceea is a world which exists after a great flood, a place made up of groups of islands. In this world the power is with the Magicians and the Guilds: the magicians are people who have a ‘color’ and the guilds are carefully controlled so that no one who does not have all the requisite skills can enter them. But both magicians and guilds operate by carrying out ‘projections’: very little in this world is real beyond a basic ‘threadbare’ clothing or a thin cake for food. Appearances, smells and flavours, even warmth and texture sometimes, are projected on to the base for clothes, food, ornaments, entertainment, embellishments of every basic. The real is no longer valued, nor the skills in making something real. In the course of the book we follow several teenagers who are approaching the time when they will discover what skills or colours they themselves might have, and therefore reach adulthood and work out what they will be able to do with their lives. From a girl who can’t control her vicious but powerful projections to a boy whose father brought his community into disrepute by shedding magic, from an orphan with powers but no sponsor for the ceremony to a kindly but sad girl whose projections come out blue, the characters are interesting and sympathetic and the world a fascinating one, with the underlying debate over the values of real versus imaginary, and the cost of each.  My main gripe is with the preface, which appears to be aimed at much younger children than the rest of the book, even explaining how the story is written in several volumes (I suspect many of the readers will be well aware of Harry Potter, for example, and quite at home with volumes). The first volume breaks off just at the beginning of the colour ceremony, and I hurried on straightaway to the second volume, which deals with the colour ceremony and its after-effects. They are various and dramatic, and hint more at something happening in the world which will change the way things are run - in a good way or a bad way is not yet clear. The story is exciting and the characters real: though there are rather a lot of them, the way the books are broken into large chunks means you get to know each group of characters well before moving on to the next group, and don’t end up muddling them. A terrific world and a great series.


 <div align="center"><a href="http://b00kr3vi3wtours.blogspot.in/" title="b00k r3vi3w Tours"><img src="http://i1126.photobucket.com/albums/l619/illusive84/82835e9c-9ce3-4db0-bd93-dc90288cee69_zps51059076.png" alt="b00k r3vi3w Tours" style="border:none;" /></a></div>