These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: THE HILLS IS LONELY by Lillian Beckwith

I found a book in an opshop one day. That’s not unusual, of course. I’ve found many books in many opshops around Australia (and a few in America). It was in one of my book-binge shops, where I ended up with a whole plastic bag full of books at 10c each, paperback and hardback alike.

That book was THE HILLS IS LONELY by Lillian Beckwith. I picked it up sheerly because I liked the title, but the blurb on the back really sold it. The blurb read:

The Hills Is LonelyWhen Lillian Beckwith advertised for a secluded place in the country, she received a letter with the following unusual description of an isolated Hebridean croft: ‘Surely it’s that quiet even the sheeps themselves on the hills is lonely and as to the sea it’s that near as I use it myself everyday for the refusals…’

Her curiosity aroused, Beckwith took up the invitation. This is the comic and enchanting story of the strange rest-cure that followed and her efforts to adapt to a completely different way of life.

It sounded wonderful, and I’d been meaning to read more non-fiction anyway. THE HILLS IS LONELY seemed like a good place to start.

It was. I’m not sure exactly how much of it is from Lillian Beckwith’s actual experiences and how much of it is made up (she writes fiction also), but whatever the breakdown is, the whole of it is enchanting. She has such a way with words, and such a fine hand for characters that you can’t help feeling that you’re there, and that you never want to leave.

“I like the way you townfolk seem to be able to dance on your toes,” panted my partner admiringly.

“You’re dancing on them too,” I replied with a ghostly chuckle that was half irony and half agony.

“Me? Dancin’ on me toes?”

“No,” I retorted brutally, “on mine.”

“I thought I must be,” said Lachy simply, and with no trace of remorse; “I could tell by the way your face keeps changin’.”

Hebrides

photo from visitscotland.com

I’ve a link here for the Kindle Version of THE HILLS IS LONELY, though I really recommend getting the paperback. This is one of those books that you’ll want to feel in your hands and smell the scent of as you read it.

But whichever format you prefer to read, just read this one. I promise you, you’ll want to go on to the next, and then the next…

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things: BROOD OF BONES by A.E. Marling

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I was wondering what my next entry in the Favourite Things Series would be when I came across a reminder on my Twitter feed, in the form of a ‘check out my book’ tweet. That tweet was by A.E. Marling, and referenced his book DREAM STORM SEA (which, however much I loved it, is not the book I will be sharing today).

The book I’ll be sharing today is one of A.E. Marling’s books, though. It’s the first of his that I read–and still my favourite so far–BROOD OF BONES. In BROOD OF BONES, the women of Morimound have all suddenly become pregnant, and no one knows why- or how. It’s left to a Somnolant (narcoleptic) enchantress, with the help of her trusted maid and her bodyguard–plus one rather wicked Lord Of The Feast–to find out why, and to what end.

Broof of bones

And isn’t the cover so GORGEOUS?!?

“A man can never tell how much a woman cares about him until she threatens his life”.

BROOD OF BONES features female lead Hiresha, who has the distinction not only of being one of my favourite book heroines, but of being one of the most convincing male-written females I’ve had the privilege to read. Her 27 dresses and her fascination with gems that borders on the obsessive-compulsive is delightful to read. Her interactions with her fellow characters are spiky and sharp, as is her personality. And although she grows and learns, Hiresha remains herself throughout the book, flaws, cracks and all.

As for the main male lead, Tethiel – well, you just have to read him. He’s delightful and hilarious and a perfect match for Hiresha. His flaws aren’t white-washed, but they’re things that make him, him. There’s a tendency in modern fiction to have an anti-hero type male lead, but oh! he loves puppies, and oh! he’d never kill anyone, and oh, I suppose he’s just misunderstood. Tethiel isn’t one of those. He’s a true anti-hero, with his own reasons and motives for doing things. His interactions with Hiresha are gloriously, frivolously fun.

The only slight annoyance I had with the book was the amount of times we were told about the outward signs of pregnancy, and how Hiresha could tell how far along the women were. I think I counted five or six times, and by the sixth time I was saying aloud: “All right, I get it!” But it was a VERY slight annoyance, and if I’d been reading in the way I used to read as a child (ie, speed reading) it’s entirely possible that I’d have missed a few of the references.

I’m going to be doing a re-read soon, but I want to make sure I have all of the books in paperback (my favourite format still 🙂 ) first. And I have yet to read the spin-off title, A GOWN OF SHADOW AND FLAME, so yay! goodness to look forward to!

Verdict? Buy it. This is one of the books that I’ve bought both an ebook and physical copy of.

At times gritty, at times endearing, and at all times fabulously entertaining, BROOD OF BONES is a book well worth your time, and a wonderful first book in its series (which is likewise fantastic). Do yourself a favour and check it out. It’s some of the best that self-publishing (or in fact any kind of publishing) has to offer.