Normally I’m overjoyed when a day off work coincides with some sunshine, but today I was actually quite relieved when I woke up to a solid blanket of cloud and steady rain. It meant I could put off the less desirable tasks of the day (doing a supermarket shop, going for a run) and legitimately take up residence on the sofa with a good book or two. The past week has been a slightly frustrating one reading-wise: I’m in the middle of one cracking novel and have another waiting eagerly in the wings, but I’ve also had an exhausting week spent largely behind the wheel of my car on a number of work excursions, and as a result have been too tired to even think about picking up a book in the evenings. In fact, to my horror, I went to bed on Friday night and slept for thirteen hours straight; slightly ashamed when I eventually came to, but at least I was refreshed ready for an arduous day of, ahem, reading. So what’s been sparking my imagination today? First off, “The Winter Palace” by Eva Stachniak, a novel I picked up in a charity shop recently. As the title suggests, it’s set in the cut-throat world of the Russian court and is unflinching in its depiction of the almost unbelievable emotional abuse inflicted during the power struggles of the Russian ruling class of the eighteenth century. I also finally got to start the book I bought a few days ago, “The Ashes of London” by Andrew Taylor. I very rarely buy hardbacks but the combination of historical fiction and an amazing cover proved hard to resist, and thank goodness I succumbed! I’m getting on for half way through already and so far it’s faultless. Reviews of both books will hopefully be up on the blog over the next week, but in the meantime, happy reading to you all!