Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Year in Books Project - January 2016

Like a lot of multiple bloggers with less and less free time I have decided to close my Tea & Biscuits and a Good Book blog and concentrate on Lazy Days & Sundays and therefore I will be transferring my book posts over here. For the past two years I have taken part in Laura at Circle of Pine Trees The Year In Books Project and I'm pleased to say she is continuing again this year and I'm happy to be taking part again in 2016. 

My January reads have all been very different. Kate Morton's The Lake House arrived at the end of October but it was such a big book to carry in my bag to work everyday  I decided to hang onto until I was off over the Christmas holidays. The Lake House - June 1933, and the Edvane family's country house, Loeanneth, is polished and gleaming, ready for the much-anticipated Midsummer Eve party. Alice Edvane, sixteen years old and a budding writer,is especially excited. Not only has she worked out the perfect twist for her novel, she's also fallen hopelessly in love with someone she shouldn't. But by the time midnight strikes and fireworks light up the night skies, the Edvane family will have suffered a loss so great that they leave Loanneath forever.  As with all Kate Morton novels she moves  between the present and the past weaving a story as she goes.  It was a great read but for me it wasn't one of Ms Morton's best and the ending was a little bit of a let down and somewhat predictable and left me a little disappointed.  

Dinah Jefferies The Separation was a book swap with my book swapping buddy at work. Lydia arrives home to an empty house there's no sign of her husband Alec or her daughters panic stricken she embarks on a journey to find them through the hot and civil war ton Malayan jungle one that only a mother's love can help her survive.  I wasn't sure at first if this was going to be a book for me but as it turned out I was very wrong.  Set in the 1930's Malaysia a young mother comes home to find her husband and daughters gone and is later told they have all perished in a fire but there were never any bodies or any proof that they had been in the property when the fire started. She then embarks on a journey to get to the truth.  I found myself unable to put this one down and would recommend it. So much so I have now bought her next novel The Tea Planters Wife. 

Kate Riordan's The Girl in the Photograph - When Alice Everleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts - none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton, whose only trace remains in a few tantalizingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish.  A young girl has her head turned by a married man and finds herself in trouble.  To save her family from shame her mother concocts a story of how Alice  has been widowed and left pregnant.  She convinces a friend in the country to take Alice in telling her that a change of scenery will help her through her grief. Once she arrives at the Manor she finds a photograph of a young women and she decides she has to find out the story behind the photograph.  Great read and I have since downloaded her novel Birdcage Walk. 

Lisa Genova always touches on sensitive subjects Love Anthony was about a little boy with autism and  I recently read Lisa Genova's Still Alice which is now a major film starring Julianne Moore abut a college professor (Ms Moore) who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers. Left Neglected - One typical morning, Sarah Nickerson, a women in her mid thirties, is late for work, racing in her car after dropping her kids at school and daycare. She tries to phone into a meeting she should already be at when she takes her eye off the road for a second too long. In a blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her over scheduled life comes screeching to a halt. Sarah Nickerson high flying young mother  has a car accident and is left with a significant brain injury which means she cannot recognize her left side hence left neglected. This is her story of regaining control of her life even though she may never regain the ability to use her left side fully.  As with all Genova novels you will be in need of the tissues.  

Last year I read Graeme Simisons The Rosie Project, where you meet Prof Don Tilman, it is never confirmed that he is Asperger's but you get the impression that he probably is.  In the Rosie Project he sets out to find himself a wife hence the Rosie Project.  He succeeds when he meets and marries Rosie. In this the sequel - The Rosie EffectForty-one year old geneticist Don Tilman had never had a second date before he met Rosie. Now, living in New York City, they have survived ten months and ten days of marriage, even if Don has had to sacrifice standardized meals and embrace unscheduled sex. But then Rosie drops the mother of all bombshells. And Don must prepare for the biggest challenge of his previously ordered life at the same time as dodging deportation, prosecution and professional disgrace.   Rosie discovers she is pregnant and this is their journey to prepare Don for being a father. If you read The Rosie Project then you will know that anything Don Tilman does, does not necessary go according to plan. It had me laughing from the very beginning and if you have read either of these two I would certainly recommend you do.  

In previous years I have set myself challenges of one sort or another.  This year I decided I would have a year off challenges but I did decide that I would read something that I would not normally have gone for.  I do like anything to do with Myth and Magic and at one point did consider reading The Game of Thrones but I have never seen the series and my son's girlfriend is reading the first of these novels and isn't sure it's for her or me.  In the end I decided that as we recently lost Terry Pratchett, who I admired for continuing to write even after is diagnosis of Alzheimers, that I would start and read his Discworld series in order of course therefore starting with The Colour Magic -. In the beginning there was a turtle. Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different particularly as it is carried through time and space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.  In The Colour Magic where you are introduced to Rincewind the Wizard and Twoflower known as the tourist. I loved it and I have already downloaded number 2 The Light Fantastic ready as part of my February reads.

My last read for January is Six Little Miracles which is written by Janet Walton. On 18th November 1983, Janet Walton gave birth to the world's first all-female sextuplets: Hannah, L:ucy, Ruth, Sarah, Kate and Jenny. Janet Walton had been told she couldn't have children, so she and her husband Graham were overjoyed to find she was pregnant. Then they told her it was not just one baby, but six. She made up her mind there and then she would do what ever she had to, to ensure all six of her babies would survive. Her story takes us through her own childhood and the things that influenced her growing up, to meeting her husband Graham, discovering she was pregnant with six babies and what it was like raising six little girls who are now in their 30's and starting families of their own.  I have loved reading this book and it has definitely turned out to be my favourite read of January and already has a waiting list of colleagues who want to read it after me. 

As for my February reads - I am starting with Diane Chamberlain's The Silent Sister - Riley has spent her whole life believing that her older sister Lisa died tragically as a teenager. But now she's starting to uncover the truth. Her life has been built on a foundation of lies, told by everyone she loved.

Have you read any of these or have you read something I need to read?


Saturday, 23 January 2016

Where did the last three weeks go???

January is my birthday month and I was very spoiled... When you have a birthday straight after Christmas you don't really get to have big celebrations.  As daughter was working all over Christmas and New Year we had a belated Christmas and Birthday celebration.  We had a lovely meal at Nosey Parkers and spent the afternoon catching up and opening presents.  My lovely colleagues at work decorated the office and one of them even went to the trouble of making me a lovely lemon birthday cake which was truly yum.  Little Rufus also has a January Birthday and he has just celebrated his fourth birthday, you'd never know as he is still such a puppy.

I had enjoyed some family time over Christmas and once they had all returned home I got to have some well earned R & R which meant I could laze in bed to read my book and enjoy a cuppa whilst having cuddles with this young man.  When I had to go back to work he still thought he could have a lie in which is fine but I did get the feeling it's all right for some.

I continue to make Snuggle Blankets for all my colleagues at work who are in different stages of pregnancy. Just this week I learnt of another expected bundle of joy when my old next door neightbour informed me that one of her sons is making her a granma this July, these kids are growing up just too fast it doesn't seem that long ago that he was a baby himself.

I haven't set myself any challenges this year.  I really enjoyed all of my challenges from last year and if anything it has encouraged me to carry on with those I have set previously  Like most of us I am trying to get a little fitter and may be even loose a little weight. I know if I try stopping all treats I will cave in at the first hurdle.  I loved my baking challenge last year, getting back into the kitchen and either making or baking things I hadn't made before.  This is Mary Berry's Cappuccino cake and it was delicious. I only had one piece and managed to get a few volunteers to finish it off for me. 

Lastly I thought I would show you this photo of my furry paws it's rare that you get all four sat still at the same time. I saw a poster the other day that says 'Cavaliers are like shoes, you need one in every colour' that's certainly the case in our house.

Have a great week one & all


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Goodbye 2015 Welcome 2016

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I do wonder what 2016 is going to bring don't you.

I do know that there are to be five yes five babies born over the next five months. The first little man arrived just yesterday at 6.43am. 

To start the year off I thought I would reflect over the past twelve months.

Over the past twelve months I have crocheted six baby blankets four of which have now been put to good use by their recipients. Elmer's Story-time blanket will be given to a lovely young man known as JJ when his new baby brother receives his baby blanket today. The young lady you see adorned in her Frozen blanket was the recipient of the three little aran jackets for Christmas. It was sometime since I had started and managed to complete any cross-stitch projects but this changed in 2015 when I set myself a challenge to at least complete one project. In fact I managed to complete three. I began with The Dark Sorceress which I started this time last year and completed in May 2015. I started The Fairy Queen in June and completed her around November having taken a break from August to September in order to start and complete the Quilters Cross-stitch for a friends birthday. 

My second challenge was to revisit some of my favourite child hood reads. I enjoyed all twelve but The Secret Garden still remains my most favourite.  There are undoubtedly many I have yet to read judging by your previous comments of your favourites such as Pippy Longstocking and Watership Down both I remember well still they may make an appearance during 2016 who knows. 

My third and final challenge was to get back into the kitchen and make or bake something I hadn't made for a long time if at all.  I really enjoyed this challenge and D quite liked having Delia Smith or Mary Berry in the kitchen.

I read some 85 books over the last twelve months these were my twelve personal favourites but there were many more that deserved to be included in that number. My overall favourite was Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden and if you've not read it I would highly recommend it.

So what of 2016?

No challenges set for this year but I have started the third and final cross-stitch in the series The Earth Goddess and already have others in mind so I think I can definitely say that I have my cross-stitching mojo back.

and the the first of the five baby blankets is completed with a second already on the hook for the 2016 arrivals and no doubt there will be more.

Today I have taken down the tree and all the decorations. Always a sense of sadness for me when Christmas comes to an end. These little fellows have been safely put away in hibernation until December 2016 and I know we say it every year but it will be here again before we know it.