For your viewing pleasure: Garden Snail



Words and pronunciation

Growing up in Scotland we had many words which I now suspect were entirely made up by the local community. Words which cannot be accurately written down because I have no idea how to spell the strange clearing-the-phlegm-from-the-throat parts.

We also had lots of slang, of which my mother did not approve (she really didnae) and words unique to different regions. I especially enjoyed encountering the northern dialects when we went on our holidays to the beach. Aye, that’s right – my childhood beach was beside the North Sea. Aye, I did swim in that cold, cold water.

I miss the words I grew up with. Having dropped so many from my own vocabulary to avoid the blank looks of confusion, I love when I talk to family on the phone, or when they visit, and they give me some of those words back.

Bumf is a good word – it means stuff usually of the rather useless variety or just not belonging to the speaker. For example a mailbox full of junk mail would be bumf. Or it can mean information, as in “here’s the bumf you were asking about” as you hand over all the paperwork regarding the mating habits of seahorses that your coworker had requested.

(What? I don’t know what you people work on!)

Other good words are squinty and havering and och.

I like that sometimes I find a word that is used slightly differently by different people… Oh I shouldn’t have started on this topic because the only examples that currently come to mind are rude sweary type words. Nevermind!

I like words that are pronounced differently by different people. Tomato, obviously. Or tah-mah-a in the slang of my home town.

But I don’t like some of the American pronunciations. I feel like something is gone, like they’ve simplified the words and removed a layer of expression by changing how the word is spoken.

For example, tube.

Americans say ‘toob’ so it rhymes with boob and makes me think ‘container, similar to tub.’
But the Scots, and other Brits, say it like ‘t-yoo-b’ actually like ‘chewb’ with a nice YOO sound in the middle, which is much better when you are referring to a stupid person as a ‘tube’.

And the name ‘Craig’ is NOT pronounced ‘Creg’ it’s just NOT, okay?
It’s ‘CRAY-G’

A review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

This book is going straight to my ‘Favourites’ shelf on Goodreads! It is just that good. No lie. It is a thing of beauty.

Sixteen year old Mackenzie Bishop became a Keeper at age eleven, when her grandfather passed his key on to her. Her job is to return the Histories – ghostlike copies of those who have died – back to the Archive. The Histories are supposed to stay asleep, stored safely on shelves like books in a library, but every so often some awaken and escape into the Narrows as they attempt to make their way back to the real world. Mac must patrol the Narrows, long intersecting hallways filled with doors, and hunt down the Histories before they slip, before their fear and confusion turns to anger and violence. It’s a dangerous job, and even the best Keepers have scars. It’s also a secret which Mac must keep even from her family.

When Mac’s little brother dies she feels more separate from the real world than ever, and life becomes more complicated when her mother insists on moving the family to an old hotel turned apartment building. The Coronado is old and crumbling, and it’s history (small h) is filled with secrets.
As Mac struggles to keep up with an increasing work load – more Histories are making it into the Narrows – and the ever stronger pull to disappear into the Archives and sit beside her brother’s shelf, she meets two very different boys – Wes, a fellow Keeper, who wears eyeliner (I mean guyliner!) and fills her with rock music, and Owen, whose quiet presence gives her peace. And if that’s not enough to keep her busy, there’s also the small issue of the Archive – something is clearly going wrong, someone is breaking the rules and Mac doesn’t know who to trust.

‘The Archived’ is beautifully written and so original. The characters, especially Mac and Wes, are so real and the mystery they find themselves wrapped up in is a definite page turner. I shall recommend this lovely tale to all that cross my path.

The only teeny tiny thing that annoyed me about the whole book, is that Mac’s grandfather is called ‘Da’ and for the first couple pages, before the exact relationship was revealed, I thought ‘Da’ was Mac’s dad – I probably made this mistake because I know the author is partial to all things Scottish and in Scotland ‘da’ is slang for dad.

A review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

‘The Raven Boys’ by Maggie Stiefvater is an interesting tale of lives and destinies linked and intertwined.

Blue, our main character, has been told all throughout her life that she will kill her one true love with a kiss, a strange prophesy and one which Blue believes entirely accurate given that her mother and aunts are all psychics – the real kind.

Blue herself is not psychic, but she has her own special power, one that boosts the energies and abilities of those around her and so she is used occasionally as an amplifier to assist in readings.

We find Blue at the opening of her tale on just such a mission, hanging out in an abandoned church yard with her aunt, bearing witness to the procession of souls who will die within the year. They ask and note down the names of the soon-to-be departed, information which Blue’s mother will then use to explain which of her customers will need to get their affairs in order.

Blue has never been able to see the souls who march past, following the corpse road – until this night. She sees a boy, a boy who is wearing the uniform of the fancy private school in her otherwise working class town. Blue’s own personal rules tell her to stay away from the rich Aglionby boys – the Raven Boys – but there’s something about this boy and the fact that she was able to see his spirit, that draws her to him.

She doesn’t think he is her ‘one true love’ but there’s some sort of connection, and when their paths cross in real life, she can’t keep away, she needs to know more. Gansey and his fellow Raven Boys are on a quest and as Blue gets to know them, she finds herself caught up in the adventure.

With ghosts, ancient mysteries, a Welsh king, strange prophesies, the supernatural and more The Raven Boys is a pretty good read.

A problem I had at the beginning though was that  when first introduced to Gansey and his friends, I had a hard time keep straight who was who. I had to go back and reread one of two paragraphs to put the right details with the right character – once I had them sorted out though, the rest of the story was fine.

I also feel like the book ends a little abruptly. I know it’s not a stand alone book, it’s part of a trilogy (like everything else these days) but it feels like the climax is suddenly over, the characters don’t really discuss everything, or even anything that they just experienced and we skip ahead to the tie-up-some-of-the-loose-ends-but-leave-a-bit-of-a-cliff-hanger-for-the-next-book part. Now, I’m not saying I needed all the threads of the story to be explained to my satisfaction, what I mean is that there were certain elements in the story which felt like they needed more than the one or two sentence ‘and maybe we’ll deal with that later’ treatment that they received.




For example, what just happened to Adam? He gave up his free will? Did Gansey know that’s what he was sacrificing? What does that even mean? Adam apparently comes out of the ley line pentagram things unscathed, so there’s no further conversation about what he did.

And what was going on with Neeve? Was she evil? She seemed okay with taking a life for her sacrifice, so that makes her bad, but was it her plan to wake the ley line herself all along? spur of the moment? Was she taken over by something she glimpsed in her scrying bowls? I don’t quite understand this character and I also don’t understand why, or more accurately how, she goes from being an aunt to being just someone Blue’s mother contacted to ask for help, but barely knew. Why are the other ladies not more concerned with Neeve’s disappearance?

And the red Mustang – it’s been sitting in the woods for seven years but it’s still a ‘newer model’? I guess as opposed to the original, classic Mustang it is indeed newer but honestly thinking it was in no way old really threw me off what I had already predicted concerning Noah.


Overall I did enjoy The Raven Boys, and there’s a good chance I will pick up the later installments – if only to see if all my questions will be answered!


Book store find

I love browsing the shelves and tables at my local bookstores and this past weekend I noticed that one of their bargain tables was filled with some names I recognized!
So, even though I was only there because Oldest Daughter needed a new book (she happily bought herself ‘Hollow City’ by Ransom Riggs) I grabbed this pretty copy of ‘The Book of Tomorrow’ by Cecelia Ahern.


Groundhog Day

Apparently Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, predicting six more weeks of winter.
Yesterday it was 79 degrees in Austin, Texas and we all spent the afternoon outside, today the high is 40 degrees. Last Tuesday we had freezing rain that pretty much closed down half the city, but Monday was kinda nice out. If the Texas weather keeps yo-yo-ing like this it’s going to take six months to get through our six more weeks of winter!

We didn’t have animals predicting the weather in Scotland. I don’t know how we knew when winter would be over… oh wait it’s Scotland, the seasons are all the same over there anyway.

And yes, discussing the weather makes me feel like an old person.