What I've read lately

Goodness, I’ve just looked back at my WIRL post and was shocked that it was last October. Slightly less shocking is that i was going to start this post in exactly the same way, saying it’s been a while etc. etc. and it turns out it has been again.

In other ways though it’s not surprising as while I enjoy reading, it’s one of those all consuming hobbies. When a book’s so well written that I feel like I know the characters, and care about what happens to them, then I have a compulsive need to find out, no matter what. I read plenty in Portugal on our recent trip, and then again earlier this week when I read a real, actual proper book rather than one on my kindle.

I’m actually like to read both, I know some people much prefer to read an actual book, but I’m easy. If I’ve found time to read, I can adapt to the format, but let’s see what I’ve been reading.

Good weather, a sunlounger and a good book

1 A Place of Hope, Anna Jacobs

As you can see from the photo above this is the actual paper-based novel that I read, mostly in the shade on the sunlounger on Tuesday when it was way too hot to do the gardening we’d planned. MOH went out on a long bike ride (yes, he’s bonkers at times, but said he managed to find some breeze down by the Thames) and so I settled in reading a bit more of the book I’d started earlier in the day.

It’s the first Anna Jacobs book that I’ve read and was passed to me by mum. It’s not a lengthy book, and I actually finished it later that day, or technically early the following day. So going by my criteria above on getting engrossed with the characters, you can tell I thought this was a good book.

The main character, Emily is an early retiree whose unscrupulous nephew George tries to take advantage after a near fatal accident as he learnt of an inheritance that had come Emily’s way. It’s a story of adventure with an escape from hospital, love and embezzlement which takes a few turns along the way.

This evening I’ve learnt that it’s the first of three books, and I’m pleased about that, as I’m keen to know what happens next in this trilogy. it’s peculiar really as mum gave me this book a while back, and it’s taken me a good while to start it, but now, I’m keen for the next one. If she doesn’t have it, then I think i’ll be passing this one her way when I’m done.

2 Dancing over the hill, Cathy Hopkins

This was a bit of a different genre for me, with a more comical lighthearted style, but one that worked well for a holiday read. The main characters are Cait and Matt, in their early sixties with a long marriage that’s, shall we say tired. The main storyline - but not the only one - is when an old flame of Cait’s gets in touch on Facebook, and she contemplates a life change with a mix of help and hindrance from her best friends which is hilarious and I’m sure many of us can relate to.

There’s a touching side too which shows in her relationship with her father, her son and his boyfriend and with the living arrangements that transpire too. If you’re after a read that’s engaging, realistic and amusing but with not overly deep meaning (although it has well thought out characters), then this could be one for you.

3 Moments of Time, Gloria Cook

This story is set after the Great War and is more usual of the book I’m attracted too, and I wasn’t disappointed. It follows Emilia and her husband Alec, and is the second book in the series (the first is Touch the Silence which I haven’t read) and her life on the farm and focuses on the family relationships, their friends and children and includes tragedy, love, intrigue and more. I want to tell you more, but I’m sure I’ll give the story away if I do but I really want you to read this one for yourself - I liked it that much, and I hope there’s another one to come.

4 The Things I Know, Amanda Prowse

The dedication in this book, on reflection, gives an inkling to this book and its purpose, yes purpose, perhaps an unusual way to describe a book, but I believe it does have a purpose. The book is dedicated to “all the people like me, who throughout their life have always felt that they didn’t quite fit” something I’m sure we’ve all felt at times, and even perhaps most of the time. It continues that “it only take one person to show you the magic” and that’s true too, and that’s in a nutshell the outline of this book.

Of course, it’s more than that. There’s chance, hard work, some breaking the rules when you wouldn’t expect it, family tensions (again), bravery and love. This was a story I very much enjoyed, and one that left me with one of those book hangovers as I continued the imaginary what happened next in my head. Perhaps I’m a little bit different in that respect too, who knows?

5 Needlemouse, Jane O’Connor

This was another of those books I couldn’t put down. it describes itself as an uplifting novel perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (I’ve not read, but feel like I should). The heroine, Sylvia has a secret, she’s in love with ‘Prof’ the thing is he has no idea, and he’s her boss. Sylvia lives for work, and ‘Prof’ but also for her volunteering at the hedgehog sanctuary and while you might not warm or even like Sylvia, you can’t fail to like this book, hedgehog fan or not.

And if you’re wondering why Needlemouse, that’s the Japanese translation of the name for hedgehogs, I think I want to call them that now rather than hedgehogs…

6 The Break, Marian Keyes

This was the book that I ended my last WIRL post with, and unbelievably my first Marian Keyes read, but definitely not my last. Amy’s husband Hugh is the one taking a break, to find himself, and then he’s gone. The book questions what and if he returns, how Amy’s feeling and how she copes and then the realisation that if Hugh’s on a break, then so is she and all this set with the backdrop of keeping a complicated family life going, as of course Amy (break or no break) can’t just drop everything and head to the other side of the world, getting to London is challenging enough.

Even just writing this post I’ve been transported back into these stories, and once again I’m wondering why I don’t make more time for reading. I really should.

Now, what would you recommend for me?


Also linking up with At home a lot.

Celebrating colour and craft books I've read lately

I love a good book, and I especially love a good book or two for Christmas. For me, they provide the perfect excuse to escape the washing up (it’s honest if nothing else) and provide entertainment if there’s something on the telebox that I’m not that into. So when my presents are plenty of books, there’s little chance of moving me off the sofa for the afternoon, which sounds ideal to me.

This Christmas was one of those book rich Christmases, and as well as the craft books which are later in this post, there’s a couple that celebrate colour and pattern which are quite apt for me. And to accentuate the celebration of colour I’ve photographed all of these on my new scarf, full of ‘my’ colours and handmade by my mum, who’s clearly been paying attention to my posts as it’s finished off with handmade pom poms - I told you pom poms would be big, didn’t I?

Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours

Now this is a fascinating book. As you can see on the cover it’s billed as “The book Charles Darwin used to describe colours in nature on his voyage on the HMS Beagle” - I mean, a book to help you describe colours, really. At the start of the book, which was first published in 1814, it says it has “proper coloured examples of the different tints.” And sure enough a few pages on there are proper examples of greys, blacks, blues and more with names to match.



Each colour has a number and a name, as well as description of its make up. For example “No. 9. Ash Grey, is the characteristic colour of Werner’s greys; he gives no description of its component parts; it is composed of snow white, with portions of smoke and French grey, and a very little yellowish grey and carmine red.”

Now I will no longer have the excuse of knowing what colour I’m talking about. And I have the vision of myself carrying this around Michael-Portillo-like (but without the clashing outfits) while on the hunt for the perfect home decor!

Spectrum, Heritage Patterns and Colours

Not content with colour, now I’ve got pattern too. Sheer heaven!

This book, which draws on the V&A collection and comprises patterns that “simply felt exciting” though I’m sure that narrowing the selection down was even harder than choosing the photos for the year book I’ve just finished. The book aims to be “both a compendium of beautiful patterns for inspiration and a functional tool”, and really is celebration of pattern and colour and no doubt, is just a splash in the ocean of the V&A collection.

It covers patterns and colours from the 15th century through to the 21st century, and while I’ve only dipped in and out of this book, I’ve a feeling that that’s something I’ll be doing for a long while yet - I could be a while!

V&A Spectrum Heritage Patterns and colours

Ah yes - I thought you deserved to see my scarf without it being adorned with a book, fab isn’t it? Strangely though, I almost bought this wool for my wrap, that I’m going to make up as I go at some point. I thought it looked familiar, and more familiar than me just liking it and having seen it before - then it struck me, it was the same as my new scarf…

My new hand made scarf

Granny Squares Weekend, Emma Varnham

I do like a Granny Square, and quite early on in my crochet adventure decided these would probably be my thing, especially for their transportability. I’ve been looking for ideas to take me beyond blankets and I think this book will do just that. I love the bag on the cover - which also reminds me of a patchwork bag I had (and could have made myself) many years ago. There’s coasters, fingerless mittens and even a bobble hat that might tempt me at some point, but not until my current project list has reduced a little.

Granny Squares Weekend

12 Months of Crochet with Red Agape, Mandy Sullivan

Ah, just look at that creation on the cover. But what’s also great about this book is the lesson in colour which it begins with, as it seems putting colour together to look this good, isn’t that easy. The book’s also split into seasons, so if you fancy a spring project, it’s easy to find just the thing. And funny I mention spring, as the project (apart from the one on the cover) is a Spring Wreath - we’ll see, most likely not this spring, but maybe.

12 months of crochet with Redagape

And the blanket on the cover, that’s called the Hexagon Starlight Dancer Blanket and is an Australian summer snowflake, which Mandy assures isn’t as hard to complete as it looks. There’s an autumn tote bag, and a crocheted bouquet. My project list really doesn’t stand a chance, does it?

Modern Quilts, Block by Block, Emily Dennis

There’s 12 quilt projects in this book, and once again i’m a goner. I’ve not even finished cutting out the quilt I started last year, nor even blinked at the ones that would follow and yet here I am planning more. My excuse, well apart from they’re lovely, is that they’re very me. If I ever get them finished my bed will look like the reverse of the Princess and the Pea, instead of sleeping on all the mattresses, it’ll be the quilts on top of me (until I get too hot, and throw them off of course!)

Modern quilts block by block

The challenge of course will be deciding which one, and then resisting the urge to buy material to use.  I’ve a thing at the moment for stars with quilts on.  That said my current favourite is called ‘Hopscotch’ but it’s quite likely that it’s bright colours are swaying me away from the star version, called First Place.  What else I like about this book is the project gallery at its start, which allows me to drool over and compare all of the quilts at once.  What I wish it had though, is the quilt’s names, not just the page numbers on the pictures.  I’m sure I’ll cope though.

Secret Garden, Johanna Basford

This was an inspired present choice by MOH, which is also code for he had no idea what he was buying as I put this in his Amazon basket and he paid for it.  The best kind of presents, well apart from those that come in small boxes from the jewellers.  I like Johanna’s colouring books, and you might remember I met her at an adult colouring evening with Staedtler back in 2016, and she was lovely and quite obviously very talented but totally unassuming too.

secret garden adult colouring book

And how could I resist a garden-based colouring book, a secret one at that. I hadn’t spotted the treasure hunt element to this, and if I’m honest, I’m still undecided about that. I’m sure I’ll cope, but perhaps I need to sit down and spend some more time using it to relax me after often a frantic day at work.

Have you read any of these, or read any great craft books lately? I probably shouldn’t ask, as I’m sure you’ll tempt me to try a few more, and add even more projects to my project to do list!


Country house decor and a good book

On the train to Birmingham last weekend, despite having my travel-crochet with me (as in crochet that’s easy to carry about) something else was calling me, and that was reading a book I’d downloaded onto my iPad that very morning. After flicking through the paper, the book one, and it was one I kept wanting to get back to. Even to the point that I had it on my phone too, and made sure it was where I’d left off so any valuable time I could muster for reading wasn’t wasted.

The book? The Day We Met by Roxie Cooper.

It wasn’t one I’d heard much about, or an author I’d read before, but when I read the description I thought it was a book that could be read relatively quickly, and despite the subject matter had the potential to be entertaining. And I wasn’t wrong, but let me tell you a bit more.

A leaf plate and a polished mahogany table
sherry on the sideboard

It’s one for the romantics and chicklit fans:

Stephanie and Jamie are meant to be. The problem is they're both with other people...

Stephanie doesn’t believe in fate, true love or living happily ever after. She’s content enough being engaged to Matt. But then she meets Jamie, who understands her more than anyone else ever has.

Jamie is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Helen and believes in everything Stephanie doesn’t. So why does he have such a strong connection with Stephanie?

When Stephanie and Jamie meet one fateful weekend in 2006 it will change everything...

Ten years. Two people. One epic love story.

the breakfast table

The main characters were likeable and believable and while the plot is, I think, well signposted it makes it no less of an enjoyable read. I believe in the kind of attraction, or strong connection that forms the basis of this story, but that doesn’t mean it’s a fairytale, or a smooth road. Life, even for these characters, is tricky and the emotions and bravery, or not, feel real - that’s what I think makes this book work.

good advice from words on the wall

So a good read, and good for a weekend away, though I was pleased I finished the book at home. And the photos from this post, well in my imagination, they fit with the book - you’ll just have to read it when it comes out in March 2019, to see if you agree.

Now, where’s my crochet?