Saturday, 4 September 2010

R.I.P. V!

Now that September is here the weather has suddenly improved a little. It’s been a pretty miserable summer in the north of England, although my view might be slightly jaded whenever there has been a nice day, it seemed that I had to work. So I’m sorry it’s nearly over, and that we suddenly find ourselves shutting the chickens up straight after the washing up in the evening.

There’s one consolation, though – it’s R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril time again! Anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that there are two challenges each year which seem to have been made for me, and this is one of them. The other, of course, is the Once Upon a Time Challenge. They are both run by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, who does a fantastic job every year of marshalling readers and organising giveaways and prizes, and he gets a tremendously enthusiastic response for each challenge. We, the readers, get the enormous pleasure of sharing books we love, reading what others have to say about them, and discovering huge piles of new books, generally to the detriment of our bank balances. 

So one of my resolutions, this year, is to get at least two of my four books for Peril the First from the library. The first of them I have already, requested last month when I knew the challenge was coming up, and judiciously renewed so that I could wait until after the official start date to begin it. It is Thursbitch by Alan Garner –given his power to scare me when I first read his books, and his comments on writing it, this one will be really creepy. I’m going to start it this week.

One other book is already decided upon, the most recent (I think) of Phil Rickman’s Merrily Watkins series. They are usually pretty creepy too, and I don’t think I shall want to be reading it when Hallowe’en comes round. He’s one of those writers who can persuade me that supernatural events might just be going on in the real world!

Alongside my reading for the challenge I’ve got two relevant non-fiction books on the bedside table at the moment. The first is Explore Green Men by Mercia McDermott. I’ve long been fascinated by this topic, and she is the first writer I’ve come across to talk about the influence of the East on religious carving in Europe, and specifically to tie it in to a common image in Devon, that of three hares in a ring, which I first came across referred to as “the Tinners’ rabbits”. More on this anon. I’m also reading Worlds of Arthur, a study of the historical evidence for Arthur and the sites connected with him across Britain. The Arthurian legends, and their Celtic origins, are almost as much of a preoccupation as Green Men, and last night I began wading through the wreckage of the Roman Empire in quest of the once and future king.

So the reading list looks like this:
Alan Garner, Thursbitch (library)
Phil Rickman, To Dream of the Dead

Two books from a “pool” of titles which might include:
Ariana Franklin, The Death Maze (library)
Kate Ellis, The Blood Pit (library)
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Diana Wynne Jones, The Dark Lord of Derkholm
Amanda Hemingway, The Poisoned Crown

Possible re-reads:
John Fowles, A Maggot
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
John Buchan, Witchwood

Mercia McDermott, Explore Green Men
Fran and Geoff Doel and Terry Lloyd, Worlds of Arthur: King Arthur in History, Legend and Culture (library)

Happy reading to everyone taking part in R.I.P.V!


  1. So many interesting topics in this post - not least the quest for Arthur!

    I tried to read A Maggot years ago and gave up, so I'm interested to read what you think of it. I've read The Magus and although I didn't understand some of I was fascinated by it. Fowles is a very challenging writer.

    Happy reading.

  2. That's an interesting list. The Ariana Franklin is book 2 in that series isn't it? I've read the first book but no more as yet. Have also read We Have Always Lived in the Castle (for last year's RIP I think) and found it an intriguing read. Look forward to seeing what you read.

  3. Intriguing list. I love the Merrily Watkins books (in a nail-biting kind of way). One of my daughters considered calling her first child Merrily, but settled on Lyra instead! And Ariana Franklin's Adelia Aguilar books are simply the best historical crime stories I've ever read; long may she flourish.

    Diana Wynne-Jones is another favourite and I do hope she keeps reasonably fit.

    If you're ever looking for a lovely children's story, Geranium Cat, I've just re-read for the umpteenth time, 'Between the Forest and the Hills', by the late Ann Lawrence. Set at the time when the Romans had left Britannia and the Saxons were just arriving, it's a brilliant story.

  4. I still must read the Ariana Franklin books. And re-read Master & Margarita -- it has been so long since reading it, but I remember liking it. For some reason "Pilate's headache" has stayed with me all these years.
    Great list!

  5. Me again! I've never heard of the Garner and Rickman books. If they are creepy I'll have to give them a try some time. The Green Men book sounds quite intriguing too. More books to add to my list of "to read"!

  6. Great to have you back for RIP V. I love your library resolution. Has inspired an idea that just might pop up during this challenge that has to do with the library. Fantastic idea, GC. thanks!!!

  7. The Master and Margarita! I didn't even think of that one, but that's an excellent idea. My sister gave it to me in May and I still haven't gotten around to it. :/

  8. BooksPlease, I think with The Magus he just set out to confuse!

    Cath, yes, it's the second book, I read the first a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I have to get the We Have Always Lived in the Castle still.

    Nicola, Merrily is a lovely name, but imagine having it all the way through school (you can tell, I got teased about my name, which was unusual during my childhood). Thanks for the recommendation, I'm off to Google it in a minute.

    Happy reading, Brooke!

    Terri B, the Rickman series provides plenty of satisfying reading, sometimes really scary. If I lived on my own I wouldn't read them after dark :-) but I can't resist them!

    Jenny, I've had The Master and Margarita on the TBR pile since about May, when I finally got round to buying a copy. I'll let you know how I get on (assuming I get round to it!)

  9. You have seriously made my day if there is a new Phil Rickman novel! Oh glorious day! because he scares me too, so deliciously and wonderfully. I love Merrily and her daughter Jane (oh Jane, what a trial that daughter is to her mother!) and Lol.....Gomer....its' been a few years since the last one, so now I've got to see if it's over here yet. thank you!!

    The Alan Garner I've seen, but not heard any reviews, so if you say you've heard its scary (and he says) then I must get this one too. I like how you timed it at the library, *high five* on that one! lol I do the same thing.

    Wonderful books! And because of you and Cath, we are watching Merlin over here (my daughter is completely obsessed with it) and now I can feel my Arthurian interest reviving! So your titles and the ones your commentators gave are *sigh* going right on my books to look for!

    Happy RIP reading, Geraniumcat, I'm off to do my list now.

  10. Lots of good looking books there. I hope you enjoy whatever you end up reading!

  11. That looks like fascinating reading...

  12. You have such a diverse list of books for this genre. Good luck!