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Am Reading: New Books on the Bookshelf

6 Jan

_DSC0019And a Happy New Year to you.

This year, I’ve decided, is going to be about books, writing, dog walks and a few other animals. Plus cake. (Mind you, every year is about cake.)

And the year has started well. Thanks to the Big Man in the Red Suit I’ve been fortunate to enough to receive a nice pile of books this Christmas.

Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton – a food memoir, A Merry Christmas: And Other Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott, My Life in France by Julia Child, The Nation’s Favourite Poems by various poetsThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton with a gorgeous hardback cover and The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, a special signed limited edition

I am also currently reading Iona Grey’s Letters to the Lost which I was lucky enough to receive as a proof copy. And I have to say, I am enjoying it very much indeed.

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My Month in Pictures: December 2014

31 Dec

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It has been a lovely December. Yes, very busy and exhausting, but I love all the christmas food preparation; the cooking, the baking, the decorating. The children and I made some gorgeous, smelling-of-christmas gingerbread shapes to go onto the christmas tree. Ok, they never made it as far as the tree but it was a fun afternoon.

The weather has changed from the almost mild December to a freeze-your-face-off temperature. Gorgeous and picturesque – it makes for lovely dog walks. The chickens, however, don’t enjoy it as much as myself and DogFace, so we’ve been giving them extra care to ensure their water isn’t frozen and they have shelter and protection from the cold with straw.

Despite the increase in baking I’ve still managed to read a few books. I loved Katie Fforde’s collection of short stories, A Christmas Feast. It was relaxing to dip into when I retired, exhausted, to bed at night. And Tammy Cohen’s Dying for Christmas was a real treat. I couldn’t read it every day for a while. I felt a bit stressed with the story (not helped by the pre-Christmas stress in real life!). But then, gradually, I was hooked in and as the plot developed and twisted I couldn’t put it down. Brilliant.

Am Reading: Four Favourites Read Recently

4 Dec

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Thanks to my job on Novelicious I come across some fantastic book recommendations. The only problem I have, however, is finding the time to read them all. I have piles of them.

On my kindle (which used to be my son’s but I pinched it off him) I’ve also got quite a few books. And quite a few samples too which I need to read before purchasing the entire book. (I love samples.) I used to be a real sceptic of the electronic book, and I’m actually quite a latecomer to the party, but now I enjoy reading books that way, particularly when travelling. And some books are only available that way, or come out first that way, with a hardcopy being published up to a year later. I do adore the physical copy though. I don’t think that’ll ever change.

The four books above are four books I thoroughly enjoyed this year. Lucy Diamond’s was a paperback but the rest were all read on the kindle.

One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond – Three women come together during an Italian evening class. Possibly my favourite Lucy Diamond novel yet.

What Would Mary Berry Do? by Claire Sandy – obviously about cake, this is a witty and rather fabulous story of Marie, who decides to follow Mary Berry’s recipes to the letter and in doing so learns more than just baking.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor the new girl at school and Park, according to Eleanor, is impossibly cool. A story of first love.

The Story of You by Katy Regan – a beautiful story of how one summer as a teenager defined the woman Robyn is today.

My Month in Pictures: November 2014

3 Dec

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There is much banging and crashing – drills, cutters, saws – all whirring and throbbing away in what is normally my sanctuary. Eight men are currently in my kitchen turning the room into an amazing space – and it is distracting me somewhat from my writing. As the novel writing is stilted, rather than updating you on my word count, I’m going to focus on the month of November.

During this month I went on my first writing retreat. It was marvellous and Julie’s top tip for post-it usage has been novel-changing.

I’ve been out on many an autumnal dog walk with DogFace. Loving the leaves and the changing landscape. The chickens have been wormed ready for winter and I’m now scattering straw about for them. They love to scratch about and when it’s wet they get fed up and their eggs also get muddy! The straw gives them something to scratch and peck at – if they find a bit of wheat they are ecstatic – and keeps them warm in their shelters when it rains.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M Delafield was a recommendation I saw on twitter by Rachael Lucas and Sarra Manning. I wrote about it on Novelicious and treated myself to the book. I’m currently reading and throughly enjoying.

The Eat Me picture with Alice in Wonderland was from a local store specialising in vintage goods. I thought it would be perfect for my kitchen as it is cake and fiction thus food in fiction.

And finally, my new shelves for my recipe book collection in my kitchen. The kitchen project is ongoing but it started in November. Lets hope it’s now only a few more days till silence decsends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gorgeous Christmas Novels

24 Nov

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Our house is completely upside down at the moment as we renovate the kitchen, so I’m taking refuge in other worlds, and the fire, to escape the chaos around me.

Last Christmas I intended to read lots of Christmas novels, but I never actually got around to it. The only one I did manage, and thoroughly enjoyed, was Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, you know, the one with that awful Simeon Lee.  

This year, I’ve started earlier. So far, on the kindle, I’ve read Ivy Lane: Winter: Part 4 by Cathy Bramley. Not strictly a Christmas novel as it’s the fourth and final part in the series of mini books around life at Ivy Lane allotments. But it still involves Christmas. I will come back to Cathy’s gorgeous series another time because I adored it and it deserves a whole blog post of its own devoted to it. Needless to say if you fancy checking it out start with Ivy Lane: Spring: Part 1.

After delighting in Rachael Lucas’s debut novel, Sealed with a Kiss, I was excited to read the novella, Sealed with a Christmas Kiss. It was lovely to return back to the Scottish Island of Auchenmor. Far better than dealing with the dust and mess of reality.

Then we have the books pictured above. Carole Matthews always delivers a cracking Christmas novel. The Christmas Party is set over the few days before and on Christmas Day. Tension, emotions running high, love affairs, adultery. It’s got it all.

Then we have The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown. Oh, I adored this book. The story, the characters and the setting. Enhanced beautifully by the map in the front which reminded me of the one in Milly-Molly-Mandy. This was perfect for snuggling down with a glass of white and a roaring fire. I simply adored it and cannot recommend it enough, during this wonderful, yet rather hectic season. Treat yourself. It is a brilliant stress-reliever.

Dying for Christmas, Christmas in the Snow and The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding are next on the to-be-read list. Cannot wait to dive in.

Reading books is what woodburners were made for.