Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Posts tagged ‘Books’

Yarn Along- November 2020

Ok so let’s start with giving you a giggle- I have never tried taking a photo of myself in a mirror and clearly have a lot to learn on how to do it without masking face and not showing clutter in the house.

One sleevless jumper.

At least you can’t see the clutter- believe me I had several attempts and this is my best photo- next time I may just try tidying up a bit first!

So onto my next project and my current book.

Grandson T has asked for another bright coloured jumper with V neck- I may even have it done by Christmas. It’s James Brett partytime yarn again and has a cabled front which does require a modicum of concentration from me, but then the rest of it is straight stocking stitch and ideal TV snuggled down knitting in the evening.

Now the book, came highly recommended a while ago but has taken some tracking down- wasn’t available at all in the library at our old house, but was available here- one copy. I requested it in August and it took the powers that be until last week to track it down and send it to my branch.

Briefly the plot is small boy falls from the roof of a block of flats and it is thought to be an accident- except Smilla can read his footprints in the snow and knows he was chased onto the roof and so fell- question is by whom and why.

Now here’s the thing- it makes me laugh- not the plot but the writing- ever so often there’s a throw away line at the end of a paragraph and I chuckle- two lines later I’m thinking did he really write that and go back, re read the paragraph and laugh again. But nowhere on the blurb on the cover does it mention humour. I am now mystified. Most books that claim to be hilarious and laugh out loud funny just leave me cold, I am lucky if they raise one smile.

Why oh why do I find this funny? I check reviews- the book is refered to as a classic cult novel, but seems to depress or bore and disappoint a lot of readers.

I try to work out how to describe the humour- is it sarcastic- I look up sarcasm on t’internet- the lowest from of wit or the highest from of intelligence- take your pick. Then I find irony is close to sarcasm and is often miss named such. Sarcasm is designed to hurt someone on a personal level- irony may have the same content but does not hurt.

Now a few years ago I had a boss who told me that a member of staff didn’t understand my humour and thought I was being sarcastic , he knew I wasn’t but could I tone it down a bit. I really had no idea what he meant , but stopped joking around with this person with whom I hardly had any contact anyway.

Further research on irony told me that it’s a very popular form of humour in Denmark- maybe I was just born in the wrong country! And having done a DNA test whch revealed a tiny bit of Scandanavia in me, maybe I am a tiny bit Danish- after all I do like bacon and can snuggle down at home with the best of them!

Suffice to say I am enjoying the book a lot.

Linking with Ginny for https://www.gsheller.com/2020/11/yarn-along-326.html

Do check out the other yarn along posts- I shall be embracing my inner Dane with yarns galore.


October books- 2020

Another good month for books- here they are, and please do let me know if you have read any of these.

A S Byatt- Possession- A Booker prize winner. It’s a beautiful book – well written and plotted with many layers. Essentially two young researchers in 1986 stumble accross some letters between two Victorian poets- one a supposedly happily married man and one an icon for lesbianism/feminism. Reputations are at stake in academia- collectors are at bay- can they uncover the truth. The scene is London, Brittany and wait for it my little bit of North Yorkshire- Whitby, Scarborough, Filey, the moors, the North Yorks Moors Railway, Goathland and even Pickering gets a mention. It’s quite a long book and the narrative is laced with poetry and letters- some of which I confess to having skipped- poems are based on fairy tales and myths and may not be accessible to people. Having said that it was a most enjoyable read and I can see why it won the Booker prize. Love to know if anyone else has read it- did you skip bits?

Rebecca Griffiths- The Primrose Path- A good thriller/murder mystery set in London, Northampton but mostly in mid Wales. Sarah was abducted and held captive for 11 days- now the kidnapper is due to be released and Sarah goes into hiding. Don’t be put off by the first two pages, it’s not all like this at all. Lots of twists at the end ,some I saw coming, most I didn’t! A good read on an Autumn day!

Kate Morton- The House at Riverton– I loved this book very much indeed. I don’t think I have ever read a book where I felt the ending didn’t matter but that is just how I felt about this as the read was so good. The story is set in a beautiful manor house from the 1910s to the present day- told through the memories of Grace who began life as a parlour maid before becoming an archiologist- she tells the story of the family that lived there and of the tragedy that occured by the Lake. In the present day Grace is recording her story for her grandson and “advising” a film maker on the authenticity of settings. An excellent book – so enjoyable that 50 pages can just disapper as you read. I’m putting it on my best 100 books list because it does evoke a period in our recent past very well indeed- the war, bright young things , the roaring twenties, the role of women, the class struggle, the decline of gorgeous houses….Thanks to everyone who sang this books praises- you were so right.

Terry Hayes-I am Pilgrim– so I’ll begin with a warning- there a few sections which are hard to read because of the content- you can skip them with ease. A political thriller- essentially the search by an undercover agent for a terrorist following 9/11. I’m not going to say anymore about the plot as I don’t want to spoil it.. the author has carefully plotted the story- when he needs a character to know the lay out of the land/ a helpful person he sets out a back story, and there are a lot scenes like this. An enjoyable read of a well crafted book, and yes I did skip a couple of sections.

Ann Cleeves- Red Bones- If you have never read a book by this author then do so- her murder mysteries are well crafted and a joy to read. This one is from her Shetland series and didn’t disappoint. Not saying another word as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I had a birthday this month- think my family knows me well..

walks, murder mystery, self knowledge, cookery, card making and embroidery.

There were other treats too, like a bunch of flowers

lucky old me.

Think the books will keep me out of mischief for a while. I wondered has anyone got any books they are asking for this Christmas, or have you already bought some for someone else. To my mind you just can’t have enough books.

The weather has turned in England this month- well and truly Autumnal- time for getting out the blankets and quilts and curling up with a nice warm drink and good book. Bliss.

Happy reading,


August Books- 2020

Hurrah the library opened here, and all by myself I enrolled online and requested some books, and collected them. No help from the Tech wizard required, but first is the book loaned to me by my son.

Tombland- C.J.Sansom- A good read- well written with pace, a who dun-it, a peasant uprising in Norwich in Edward V1’s reign ( son of Henry 8th), skullduggery, spies, betrayal etc. Thoroughly enjoyable and told me about a period in history I knew little about. Thanks son.

M.J. Arlidge- The Doll’s House- romped through this who dun it, set in Southampton (U.K.) A young woman is kidnapped  and kept in a cellar (reported missing) and a dead female is found buried in a beach. I don’t think I need to say more. It’s the third book in a series featuring DI Helen Grace- I’d not read the other two but that didn’t matter. I would read other books by the author, but I already have a lot of other books in the to be read list!

John Fowles- The Collector- I tried to see who might have recommended this book to me as I really enjoyed it, and very oddly indeed the plot was quite similiar to the last book. It’s Fowles’ first novel and was written and set in the 1960s. Fred takes up the story first. He lives with his Aunt and disabled cousin and works for the local council as a clerk. His attitudes are very old fashioned, more from the 1950s than from the 60s. His hobby is collecting butterflies and his whole life really revolves around that, until he notices a local girl who has won a scholorship to the Slade Art school. He becomes obsessed with her beauty but lacks the social skills to make an approach. Then he win the Pools. He pays for his Aunt and cousin to go to Australia to visit relatives, and hatches a careful plan to collect Miranda. He buys a remote Sussex farmhouse, converts the cellar, fills it with everything he thinks Miranda will need- clothes, art books etc, and kidnaps her. He wants her to love him, but she keeps trying to escape and things don’t go to plan.The next part of the book tells the same story in diary form from Miranda’s view point. I won’t spoil the ending.

I found it to be very well written, and thoroughly enjoyed it, reading over a couple of hot days when I didn’t want to do anything but melt. Highly recommend this one.

Lucy Mangan- Bookworm- A Memoir of childhood reading. The author is younger than me but older than my sons. She learned to read at a very early age and never looked back. Starting with early picture books , she takes us on a reading journey through to young adult books. The earliest books she wrote about were ones that I read to my sons, and are still very popular now- The Tiger who came to tea, Where the wild things are, the Hungry Caterpillar etc. The next ones are ones I read myself- I was a late reader- I say I was 8 before I was reading independently- Enid Blyton was the reason I learned. Anyway it’s a super book, reminding me of books I have loved- I didn’t agree with all her thoughts- I like the Cat in the hat for example but she doesn’t- I just love the flow of the rhymes. A book for anyone to enjoy who loved reading as a child. And just like me she got told off for disappearing with a book- my Mum called it “ sloping off!” She thought I was disappearing to get out of helping her, but really I just wanted to read.

Graeme Simsion- The Rosie Project- I loved this book. It’s funny, poignant and baically wonderful. Professor Don Tillman is nearing 40 years of age and decides he would like to be married and share his life. So he begins the Wife Project with a questionnaire for potential spouses. Just read it, unless you have already.

At this point the library click and collect system went a bit awry. I was told by email that I had some books to collect and having requested a further six I was very excited. I took the above books back, collected my bundle and removed myself as quickly as I could  re covid and facemasks and came home. They had only given me all these books again, not one new one amongst them-RATS. Fortunately I had two left from the previous trip.

Claire Douglas- Do Not Disturb- Pyschological thriller, set I swear in the village in Wales my Mum lived in- Crickhowell the nearest town, Pen y fan and Sugarloaf, bridge over the River Usk all get a mention, along with the Rectory turned into a B&B. That aside it is a good read, the final twists were forseeable but enjoyable over a couple of hot days.

Tania Carver- The Doll’s House- well what can I say- a well constructed who dun it, but not one for the faint hearted. Read it if you must. I won’t be reading other books by this husband and wife team writing under the name of Tania Carver.

So now I was without a library book and took one from my to be read pile- it was a birthday present a couple of years ago.

Kate Morton- The Clockmaker’s Daughter- after a month of good books  I was thrilled with this one, which was better than all these others. I LOVED IT. It’s the story of a house told through an interconnection of people who spent time living in it, an artist’s model, a school girl from when it became a school, a recovering soldier who came to recuperate, a grieving widow and her children in WW2, a man on a treasure hunt and a young archivist. If you don’t fall in love with the house , well I don’t know what to think. AND- the setting is not far from where I live and the two houses which inspired the house- Avebury Manor and Kelmscott ( William Morris) are also not far but closed because of you know what. It is not often that I read a book slowly because I don’t want it to end, but that happened with this one. About half way through I hoped the ending would not be a disappointment, 3/4 of the way through I realised I didn’t care if the ending was less than perfect for I had enjoyed it so much, and I can happily report that the ending is very satisfacory indeed. I shall be requesting more books by this auther for sure.

Meantime the library contacted me and I have three library books already for me. Goodo.

Have you read any of these books- did you enjoy them? And what are you reading right now?

Till next month- may all your books be good ones.


Knit and Natter Friday

Despite the restrictions on normality, I am finding plenty of things to do and enjoy. I completed the crochet granny square lap blanket I was making in response to the request for some for local care homes. Having unearthed a larger than expected stash of yarn I was happy to make one. Now apparently one care home has said please could they have some single sized blankets-can you guess what I am crocheting now?

Duly delivered a week ago, and it just so happened that it was near my new favourite spot… that hill fort!

Next to a water trough, you can’t beat a good gate photo in my opinion.

And also spotted on the walk this caterpillar which to my mind looks just like the Hungry Caterpillar, but whether he will be a beautiful butterfly or a horrible moth I don’t know- hoping someone might know.

Our son suggested we join them for a family walk to the Cotswold Water Park. Now I have seen the sign for this park on numerous occasions, including when we lived in Oxfordshire for nine years. I had wrongly, it turns out, assumed it was a theme park. I feel very silly indeed. It’s lakes and walks and canal paths and loveliness.

We parked at Neigh Bridge and walked round the lake – twice- once clockwise and once anti-clockwise, because we’d paid for the car park.

As you do- well we did.

I took this pic for Yarn Along but to date there hasn’t been one this month- I can always edit this later if needed. Th elink has come up just as I posted this – Yarn Along can be found

Yarn Along {August}

The book was lent to me by the same son, and the knitting…….well

When I unpacked I unearthed the yarn and pattern for something I had totally and I mean completely and absolutely forgotten about , and it’s really quite a nice colour, and for once it is for me.

Not quite sure what the next month will bring, well none of us do. We had the grandchildren round fot a bit this week. Master T said I always find a positve side to everything his Daddy says so. Now I think if that’s true I am very lucky, and I will look for more silver linings this week.

Have you had any silver linings in your week- love to know.

Be Happy,


Books- November 2019

Seriously I have read all these books this month. I requested a lot and they came all at once, so what’s a body supposed to do hey, but read? I have still got a big heap to read- five to be precise. Should see me through the weekend! I shalln’t be requesting more for a while, after all I  do have you know what to prepare for. Here’s what I read.

Amor Towels- A Gentleman in Moscow- probably my favourite book so far this year. The writing is sublime. The pace is measured and exactly right. Count Alexander Rostov, gentleman of the title, is placed under house arrest in the Hotel Metropol. Not in his usual suite but in an attic room. Free to go where he likes within the hotel but not outside. Free to mingle with staff and guests. He makes the most of what he has. This book is just a sheer delight. Loved it.

And I have completed my first line on my book bingo card.

Jonathan Coe- Middle England- So as far as book bingo goes, I have a book here with a tree on the cover, a book by a male author and a funny book. It must be funny because the Guardian calls it “a comedy for our times.” Which probably tells you I smiled a bit but was not rolling around the floor with mirth. He is a new author for me, which means I hadn’t read the previous two books featuring the same characters, this doesn’t matter as it is a stand alone book.  Right moving on, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it’s well crafted. It’s about Brexit and attempts to understand why people voted to leave and actually makes a sympathetic stab at it. It’s less good about showing why people voted to remain, except that they are happy with the status quo.  I think that is probably because he assumes his readers voted remain so don’t need that explaining. Which is a shame because I would have liked more on that and on the current state of the Labour party, and the seeming determination of MPs to say they will honour the referendum but then not. Love to know if anyone else has read this book and what you thought.

Margaret Atwood- The Testaments- A jolly good read. It’s a long awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tail. I thoroughly enjoyed it , but felt it lacked the power of the first book. Have you read it what did you think?

Eva Ibbotson- The secret of Platform 13- published three years before Harry Potter , comes this children’s story- with wizards, magical creatures, an magic island accessed through a gump to be found behind the old gents loo on Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station. There’s also a missing baby stolen by a a horrible rich couple. Sound famiiar? Anyway this is rather a sweet story, can’t believe I didn’t read it to my youngest, but I didn’t. I think Miss F might love it.

So that is my book with a number in the title. Thanks so much for the suggestion. Three out of five read along that line. Next up is a book with a face on the cover.

P G Wodehouse- The Little Nugget- I choose this for book bingo on a number of counts- published over 100 years ago   (1913), a funny book  and a book by a male author. However it also had a face on the front, so there we are. It did also make me chuckle which was nice. The Little Nugget is a spoilt son of a rich American and is prime target for kidnappers, as he’s worth a nugget.  When his parents divorce he goes to live wiith his father who sends him off to school. His mother is unhappy and her friend persuades her fiancee to pose as a school master and to kidnap him and return to his mother. Meantime there are two other kidnappers also after him for money. It was an enjoyable read and not my usual fare at all. Thanks to the person who suggested P G Wodehouse.

Adele Parks- Lies Lies Lies- A new to me author, and a good domestic thriller. All I will say is secrets and lies do ot a happy family make.

David Lagercrantz- The Girl who lived twice- being the third book he wrote following on from Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series( The girl with the dragon tattoo). A good thriller with the girl pursuing her sister whilst a mystery of deaths on Everest is resolved. I struggle with a large list of unfamiliar names, thank goodness for a character list of the ones I need to keep track of. And this represents another row on my bingo card.

Stacey Halls- The Familiars- loosely based on real people and the Pendle witch trials this is a thoroughly enjoyable historical novel. Fleetwood Shuttleworth and her husband live at Gawthorpe hall. They have already lost three babies and Fleetwood is determined to carry this pregnancy to full term with the help of her midwife. Then they get caught up in witch mania.

Agatha Christie- Endless Night- A few weeks ago I was talking to my DIL Mrs G and she mentioned reading an Agatha Christie and saying the book was different to the TV programme. Now I read most of Mrs Christie’s books a very long time ago, and the versions that are in my mind are now the TV dramas. Then I watched Endless Night in a repeat of the Miss Marple series and something didn’t ring true. So I requested and read the book. Miss Marple doesn’t appear in the book at all, but apart from shoe horning her into the story there are very few changes , and the ending is different. The book is better. I shall have to re-read some more. The only question is why on earth did the programme makers add in Miss Marple.

So that was an awful lot of books this month. Do let me know if you have read any of these, and a huge thank you for all your recommendations.

Books- October 2019

The month in which Book Bingo was started at the library as a reading challenge for grown-ups. The first three books were read before this and so don’t count in the line.

John Marrs- When you disappeared- Perfect family man Simon vanishes  early one morning, his wife Catherine and children are devastated. Twenty five year later he turns up on the doorstep. What happened is told by Catherine and Simon. I did find part of the ending upsetting and skipped three pages, apart from that it was a jolly good thriller.

Neil Spring- The Ghost Hunters- based on the exploits of one Henry Price and his investiagtion into the  most haunted house in England-Borley Rectory. The novel is very well done, his use of language and style really evoked the age in which the book is set- 1920’s till 1970’s, with most happening in the 20’s- 40’s. A perfect book for a Halloween/ Autumn read. I always think I have a good book on my hand when I break off to google something- here’s a link. There was also a TV series starring Rafe Spall, should it sound familiar to you. It was a good read.

Phaedra Patrick- The Library of Lost and Found- A nice, cosy and quite charming feel good story. Martha is a volunteer at her local library and never says No. So she’s put upon. A book comes into her possession with a note that it’s for Martha from her Nana , but the date is three years after her Nana died. This would make a lovely stocking filler at Christmas for someone….. On the negative side, the writing is not great   and clearly the author has never volunteered in a library! But hey, it is set around books, so that’s good.

So here’s where Book Bingo started, which means I had read the above before…

Rowan Coleman- The Girl in the Window- published in August 2019,  by a woman,  recommended to me and it’s a mystery, so lots of potential ticks. It is also very good indeed. A blend of historical and modern, fact and fiction. Trudy’s husband is missing so she and her son return to the house she grew up in -Ponden Hall. It’s a real house and is now a B&B. There is a Bronte connection to the house. The Bronte family were invited to make use of the library, and the son Robert Heaton had a soft spot for Emily and planted a pear tree as a sign of his devotion. The house may have inspired several houses in the novels, from Wuthering Heights, to Thrushcross Grange and Wildfell Hall. Trudy finds various papers written by Agnes Heaton in the 17th century and by Emily Bronte. Agnes’ story  seems to have inspired Emily to write a second book, one that is missing. That’s all I’m saying because a mystery wouldn’t be a mystery if I spilled the beans. It’s good though.

Susan Orlean- The Library Book- qualifying as non- fiction and a recomended book for my bingo cards. The library is the Central Library in Los Angeles, and covers a lot of different angles, including the history of this library and libraries in general across the world, the people who work, volunteer and use this library and the story behind a fire in Central library. I found it abasolutely riveting, but then I probably would. The library I volunteer in is nothing like central library and yet I could reognise the tales she related about library users, volunteers, books and all the other things that happen in a library.We should really value our libraries, not just for the books we can borrow but for all the other things you can do in a library and for the human contact it provides to people.

Nella Last’s war- edited by Richard Broad and Susie Fleming. Did you see Victoria Wood’s TV drama called Housewife 49? This is the book which inspired the drama. Nella Last started to keep a diary for Mass Observation at the beginning of WW2, and kept it going throughout the war and beyond. It is so good. Honest history, written as it happened, telling what life was like for ordinary people in Barrow. Nella is in her early 50’s with two grown up sons, and has always been a stay at home wife and Mother. We see her gradually becoming her own person, working in the Centre, endlessly sewing and  knitting, and opening a charity shop for the Red Cross to pay for all the parcels for POWs. She keeps chickens, cooks wholesome meals, her husband actually starts to complement  his meals, she thinks for herself, has bouts of anxiety, worries about her sons, suffers from arthritis, puts on a brave face so everyone thinks she is cheerful all the time. She is fabulous. The book should be compulsive reading in schools! Don’t take my word for it read it, or have you already, were you impressed. There were a couple of bits that grated, but you have to recall the zeitgast.

Madeline Miller- Circe- Huge thanks to people who recomended this one to me. I loved it. A retelling of greek myths through the story of Circe, a witch , a goddess, and one time lover of Odysseus. So good to read a story with a powerful female hero. It also reminded me of these myths which I had read at school and had mostly forgotten.

So I am 4/5ths of my way through the central line on my bingo card. The only one left for that row is the Free Space, by which I take it to mean my choice. I’d like to thank everyone for all their ideas for me, I followed up on so many of them I actually have 12 books from the library waiting for me to read. Three of which have to be returned by 7 November as someone else has requested them. Better get reading…

Love to know if you have read any of these, did you like them? Have you read a good book this month?


Books- July 2019

After all last months psychological thrillers and Who dun its , time for a change.

Elizabeth Von Arnim- The Enchanted April- written in the 1920s , by a new to me author, from the Penguin modern classics book range. Four women answer an advert  to rent a medieval castle on the Italian Riveria. They make an odd group, but gradually each succombs to the magic of “Wisteria and Sunshine”,  and blossom until they change in unexpected ways. I loved the language and sentence structure of the book. It was a delight, so gentle, so elegant and leisurely. Really enjoyed this book.

Muriel Spark- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie- this was a re-read for me, and I can’t decide what I make of it. Miss Jean Brodie lost her sweetheart in the first world war and is now a school teacher, with dubious morals and political leanings. She selects a small group of her pupils to be the creme de la crème. They enjoy special treats- trips to the theatre , afternoon tea, and her approach to education is odd. They do well and pass their exams, but they are only 10 when they come under her wing. She falls in love with a married art teacher and sets about grooming one of the girls to be his lover. Meanwhile she starts an affair with the single music teacher. Certainly complex. Have you read it, what did you think?

Marian Keyes- The Break- I think someone recommended this one to me. It wasn’t what I expected, the plain white cover made me think it would be more challenging. In fact it was the perfect holiday read when we had a few days in  Weymouth. Hugh decides he needs to take a break from his marriage following the deaths of his father and brother, and off he goes on a six month vacation, feeling totally free to make new relationships. His wife Amy is first distraught at his departure, until she realises that she too is therefore on a break. family life for the children falls to bits. And when Hugh comes home,  will they reunite? As I said a good holiday read. The only thing I do wonder is do people really lead lives like this? All the characters seem to have jobs in journalism, PR, media, all are high flying or pretend to be, is that really what the world of work is like?

Jean Rhys-Voyage in the Dark- I had read her Wild Sargasso Sea, which tells the story of the first Mrs Rochester in Jane Eyre. I had found that very moving so was keen to read Voyage  in the Dark, which covers similar themes. Anna is the daughter of a white plantation owner and a white creole mother. She has a lovely childhood in the Caribbean, but returns to Edwardian England with her step mother when her father dies. Anna becomes a chorus girl, yearning for her childhood home. She is a friendless innocent, so the inevitable happens. The style is wonderful, simply told, so you feel as if you are living her life. I found it very poignant. Jean Rhys herself came from a similar background, and I am going to try to track down her biography.

Erin Kelly- The ties that bind- just couldn’t keep away from the thrillers!  Really enjoyed this one set in Brighton, covering the shady world of the 1960s, and the long shadow cast over the present day. I first went to Brighton in the 1970s, I recall the Lanes and surrounding streets as being quite hippy like, full of wholefood shops, the original Body Shop and lots and lots of fabric shops and not at all shady.

Denise Mina- Exile- the second book in the Garnethill  trilogy. You really do need to have read the first one, and even then I struggled to pick up the characters and threads , memory not what it was. It was an ok read, too many characters for me to hang onto. Will I read the third, maybe now I have got this far!

Libby Page- The Lido- the perfect book for this last week of July , which in the UK has been hot! The plot is the battle to save a Lido in London which is threatened with closure by the council and being turned into a private tennis court by an upmarket property developer. It has a wonderful feel good factor, which reminded me of Maeve Binchy’s books. There is the love story of Rosemary and George. There is grief and how it is experienced through place. I loved the line “George is in the way the mist sits on the water in the morning.” When you loose someone very dear to you, they are everywhere still. Above all there is the importance of community and identity. I am not sure I buy into parts of London being like villages, it always seems to be full of people pushing and shoving and not caring a d**n about anyone but themselves. But I do agree about the importance of keeping places open and available to the public. Rosemary used to work in a library and regrets not doing more when it was closed. As you know our library was threatened with closure and enough people came forward to keep it open and volunteer there. I am amazed at the number of people who do just come in for a coffee and a chat. The children’s reading scheme has started for the school holidays, we have to sign up at least 300 children. The council closed the local tourist information centre, so now the library volunteers provide their local knowledge instead, We have the only photocopier in town. We give computer lessons, host other events from holocaust remembrance days, to sing songs for the elderly, science days for children, Moorsbag sewing sessions, drumming lessons etc etc.. Biggest cheek of all is that the County Council who wanted to close the library now directs people to the library for help applying for their bus passes. So I am with the characters in this novel , if you value somewhere, use it or lose it.

Ok off my soapbox for now. Have you read  any of these books , what did you think ? Have you read anything good this month? I love the recommendations you all make, four of this month’s books came from your ideas. Thank you.

April books-2019

April has been a good month for books. The first one was the least enjoyable, thereafter I had some great reads. Do let me know if you have read any of them and what you thought.

Marcus Zusak-Bridge of Clay- I am a little amazed I made it to the end of this book, I found it rather heavy going and frankly disappointing after his Book Thief. I rather think style got in the way of story telling. Basically it is a rather sweet love story and a marvellous tale of loss and death. I also loved the depiction of family life with five boys, he captured the utter chaos brilliantly as well as the love and care of brothers. So reminded me of bringing up three boys. I found the first 80 pages hard to wade through, and had I not been away from home and my heap of books I might have abandoned it. Part of me wishes I had.  I really wish someone had told him to stop the muddly style. Has anyone read it and what did you feel? Oh there is a Bridge and Clay is short for Clayton- he helps his father build a physical and emotional bridge to the family. There is a twist towards the end which is so subtle I missed it and had to go back and recheck because things subsequently made no sense.

Anne Griffin- When All is Said– I really enjoyed this book. Maurice Hannigan makes five toasts over one weekend to the five people who influenced his life, beginning with his marvellous older brother , his hero Tony. It is simply a love story to five people , there is a country house and mystery too. Read this one, you’ll be glad you did.

Ann Cleeves- White Nights- sometimes a who dun it is just what I need. The second book in the Jimmy Perez series. So good.

Chris Hammer- Scrublands- A top notch thriller which I really enjoyed. It had a very strong plot, full of twists and turns, but not so complicated that I ever got muddled or confused .A journalist visits a town a year after a priest commits a most inexplicable murder to research how a community recovers from such a crime. What struck me throughout the book was how well the author conveyed the heat in the Scrublands, I had a real sense of place in this Australian community. A thoroughly good read.

Alex Michaelides- The Silent Patient. Another thoroughly enjoyable thriller. The silent patient killed her husband, her new psychotherapist sensing a book in getting her to finally break her silence , works hard to make that happen. Some interesting twists and turns. Highly recommended.

So that’s it for this month. Have you read anything good recently?

February books-2019

I have read some super books this month and many are thanks to the recommendations I receive here or read on blogs. Please tell me if you have read any of these or have found any good reads recently.

Natasha Lester- The Paris Seamstress- an enjoyable book set in Paris and New York, blending real and fictional characters and two-time spans- the 1940s and the present day. There is romance, spies and fashion.

Heather Morris- The Tattooist of Auschwitz- gosh what can I say, other than read it. The real story of Lale Sokolov who was given the job of tattooing the numbers on the arms of the people who were taken to Auschwitz. One day he looked into the eyes of the young woman whom he fell in love with and married after the war. Just read it, and have some tissues by your side. Onto my Top 100 list. A very well written book , you feel as if Lale was talking direct to you, one to one.

Stuart Turton- The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle- Cluedo meets Groundhog Day! A murder happens in Blackheath House, can Aiden Bishop discover the murderer. Only problem is he only has eight days to solve the mystery otherwise he has to start again. On each of the  days he wakes up as a different person staying in the house. It’s a very complicated and well executed plot, the map of the house and the list of characters help you keep track of what is happening and to whom. It felt like being inside a computer game, where you can start over but you obviously remember what happened. It isn’t one by the way, if it had been it would have been a more satisfactory explanation at the end. It was an enjoyable read, but you do need to have set aside big chunks of time to read it, not one for the journey to work, be great on holiday. And if you don’t like it don’t blame me blame Doris.

Peter Toohey- Boredom, a lively history- I attend a monthly group through the U3A which looks at psychology. This month it was my turn to run the session for the group. I choose Boredom as my theme. My question underpinning things was Is Boredom useful? So I read this book as part of my research. It covered a lot of ground from a Boredom Proneness test to looking at how boredom has been portrayed in art and literature. I found the whole subject totally fascinating and guess what, I am not prone to boredom. If you enjoy things psychological this was very accessible and interesting read. I am thinking of looking into the psychology of shopping next, what do you reckon, interesting or boring?

Julie Kibler- Calling me home- two love stories across the racial divide set in the present day and the 1930s in America. Well written, but knowing that the 1930s story could not end well , made it quite harrowing at times. A good read. The best part was the developing friendship between the elderly white woman and her hairdresser and friend who is a black single mother as they travel to a funeral.

Sally Rooney- Normal People-This book won the Man Booker Prize 2018. It examines a rather weird couple and their non relationship  -friends with benefits really. Marianna is clever, but has a troubled home life, bullied by her older brother, father is dead, Mother is a shadowy presence who fails to make any meaningful contact with her daughter. At school she is a misfit, bullied by the other pupils. Connell is the son of their cleaner, also very clever and popular, he enjoys the sex and power he has over Marianna but ignores her at school. They go off to Dublin to uni, he to read English she to read History. Marianna is now pretty, and popular, but goes beyond being a doormat to her boyfriends and becomes masochistic. Connell is the misfit now, being the boy from the poor background, but their relationship comes and goes, and sometimes they have significant others and sometimes they don’t. It all ends abruptly. I mean Connell gets the offer of a place in New York to do creative writing and the book stops. My advice is don’t bother with this one. However if you already read it I would love t know what you made of it?

And that’s it for February. Love to know what you are reading? I am reading about some Remarkable Creatures…

November Books- 2018

I have read some lovely books this month, including a couple recommended by discerning bloggers. So many thanks.

Byron Rodgers- J.L.Carr- The life and times-not so much a book as a pamphlet. J.L.Carr wrote the book A Month in the Country, which if you haven’t read or seen the film, I can highly recommend. J.L.Carr was a bit of an enigma even to his closest friends- a remarkable Headmaster in Kettering, an aficionado of cricket, a painter of great skill creating paintings of rural Northamptonshire  especially churches, a writer and publisher. An enjoyable but too brief read.

Michael Robotham- The Secrets She Keeps- Another very good thriller from this author. Two women, two pregnancies and some big secrets. Not saying any more as I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Sarah Waters- The Little Stranger. This one was recommended to me by Tialys, and I loved it. Lynne described it as a slow burner which is most apt. The pace is so well-timed, it is brilliant. The lure of the old house Hundreds Hall is  strong. The past glories, the balls, the parties, the library , the stables, the glamour, the family, the decline post war, the tragedy, and finally the Little Stranger. Thoroughly enjoyable, thank you.

Jhumpa Lahiri- The Lowland- Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2013. This is a well constructed novel with several narrators, and once again was a blogger recommendation last month. It’s set in Calcutta from the 1940s and Rhode island from the 60s to the present day, and the focus is on one family and their relationships and the impact of everyday life  in troubled times. The Evening Standard on the book cover calls it “A sad and haunting story”, which sums it up nicely. I found the part set in India during the war interesting because my Dad was there from1943 to 1946. I am always appalled by my lack of knowledge of life outside the West. I enjoyed the book, and there was a happy ending of sorts, but it was a sad novel. Worth reading.

Edward Royle- A Church Scandal in Victorian Pickering. This turned up on the books returned shelves at the library. How have I missed it before? A very well written account of a vicar in Pickering, who may or may not have been carrying on with the daughter of a local weaver, and who was had up before a church court accused of immorality and bringing the church into disrepute. Needless to say that whilst the immorality wasn’t proved the causing a scandal bit was. So he headed off to Belgium with his wife and family for a while and the weaver’s daughter went to Paris as a dressmaker. Seems the vicar and the dressmaker got together a few years later . He became a curate in Suffolk and she the curate’s wife, although in the census she still had her maiden name. This only took a couple of hours to read and I nearly didn’t include it here except for the fact that it threw a light onto the town in which my Gt Grandfather grew up, only yards away from the vicarage.  Was my family aware of the scandal, in a town of less than 4000 people they must have been. Also it showed the shocking disregard the said vicar had for the reputation of the woman. It also said a lot about the hypocrisy of the day. And finally, just to flag up once again how great the library is, you never know what you might find.

Finally, Tialys reminded me that I had once taken the trouble to compile a list of 109 authors whose books I should seek out, and then had promptly forgotten it, even though I turned it into a page here. So I consulted it a week or so ago, and ordered some books through the library. I thought they will be here in time for Christmas, I shall have plenty to keep me going when the library is shut for the two-week break. Humph! They all arrived within  three days and I now have a huge pile of books to read right now, beginning with the Night Circus. Bring on those winter nights when I can settle down with a book, my blankie and a cup of tea. But do please keep your recommendations coming in. Thanks to you all my reading choices have widened to new genres and I am loving them.

Now where’s my book, half an hour before dinner….

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