Friday Salon: To glass or not to glass?

When I get my cross stitch framed up, I usually have glass put in front of it. This is usually for protection from dust etc (my current apartment is notoriously dusty, even when I do clean!). I have yet to notice a problem with any of my items I get to see, even 15 years after getting them framed. the only time i’ve had trouble was when I was transporting an item, the glass broke and left a crack across the front!  I left the glass broken for several years, until I got fed up – I wasnt prepared to pay for it to be reframed and reglassed, so ripped all the glass off and left it free.

However, I overheard someone the other day say “oh you should never glass cross stitch due to the bugs that can develop behind it”. So yes, there’s always the risk that mould, damp, bugs etc can be caught behind the glass and damage the fabric.

So what’s your preference? Do you glass or not?

Book Review: A Light in the Window by Jolyse Barnett

a light in the windowAdirondack girl-in-transition Jade Engel comes home to recharge after ending a career she never truly wanted, but soon realizes she’s in danger of also being swept off her feet by the boy-next-door, her former best friend, Ben Stephens. If only he’d stop kissing her every time she falls into his arms. Everything local celebrity Ben Stephens ever wanted is in Starling. Then Jade comes home after an eternity away and sends his simple world into a tailspin. He’s determined to pursue her—the one girl who got away. But when their friends-with-benefits arrangement blows up in their faces, will they have the courage to put their pasts to rest in order to forge a future together?

From Tule Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is one of the “Christmas in New York” stories, with some of the related stories reviewed previously, including All I want For Christmas by Jennifer Gracen and This Christmas by Jeannie Moon.

As with the other stories in the series, this is a relatively short book, and was read in one sitting whilst eating dinner in a restaurant one November evening recently (it was a dark and stormy night!).

Things start with Jade returning home in the run up to Christmas, 29 years old, unmarried and some things best left behind her. She’s just quit her job for multiple reasons, is about to start college in the new year, has split up with her boyfriend (after finding out he was married, with children) when she runs into Ben, her best friend from school. Of course, he has grown-up, and has turned out to be both attractive and self-employed. Meeting him brings back painful memories of what happened in High School and why they stopped being friends.

Returning to stay with her parents for the month, and she is warned off seeing Ben by her mother Gigi, who has developed some form of hatred towards Ben, wrongly as it turns out, but it makes spending time with him difficult. Time does seem to go quickly (did she really only spend a month there?) and non-Ben/Jade events aren’t covered, so it goes quickly. The sex is very much “fade to black”, which is ok if you like that kind of thing, and there are some references to the other characters in the series.

Jade, in particular, does grow as a person in this book, learning to finally start to stand up to Gigi, and Jade’s brother Jeremy also gets to admit his own faults and starts to heal his relationship with his family. You get the result you want in a traditionally Christmas setting.

Book Review: A Matchmaker’s Christmas by Donna Lea Simpson

a matchmakers christmas #tomance #regencyTwenty years ago, Beatrice Copland committed a reckless and foolish act of deceit that she’s certain ruined the life of a man she’d fallen in love with and led to his wife’s death. Now serving as companion to the stern Lady Bournaud, she leads a quiet life and attends to her duties as a kind of penance. But Lady Bournaud, trying to make amends for her own selfish ways, is opening her country estate to a few select guests for the holidays—including the man Beatrice wronged so many years ago.

Sir David Chappell spent nearly two decades coming to terms with the haunting memory of his wife’s death. When he receives an invitation to Lady Bournaud’s for the Christmas season, he’s reluctant to go at first, but he’s sure the time away in Yorkshire will be a welcome change from London. Once there, he’s immediately captivated by the youthful beauty and genuine compassion of the lady’s companion, Beatrice Copland—all the while sensing that he’s met her before.

Even as David pursues her and Beatrice realizes she’s still powerfully attracted to the man, she must gently rebuff his advances for fear that her damning secret will come to light and reopen his old wounds. And while Lady Bournaud watches, happily scheming to make matches for all her guests, it may take more than a Christmas miracle for David to free Beatrice’s conscience, and her heart, at last.

From Netgalley in exchange for a review.

Beatrice Copeland is companion to Lady Bournaud, an ageing widow who has realised she is in the last years of her life, so has decided to throw a last “Hurrah” in terms of a Christmas House party.  Lady Bournard has identified 4 twenty-somethings that she hopes will form a certain attachment. She also invites Sir David as a counterpoint to Beatrice, without realising that Beatrice and David have “history”.

Things dont go according to plan, when the younger quartet refuse to settle into their prescribed pairs.

Lord Vaughan is being pressurised by his father to get married and is threatened with being sent to the colonies (Canada to be precise) if he doesn’t get hitched soon. He cares little for whether he marries the right woman or not, simply that he marries someone of suitable breeding.

On paper at least, Lady Silvia is the right candidate, titled, from the same social circle etc. Unfortunately, she has eyes only for the Reverend Mark Rowland, an impoverished vicar who has yet to start out properly in his own parish.

Verity Allen is a wild Canadian, having been brought up in the rugged frontier being the only girl in the family. She’s loud, climbs trees, rides horses like a man, takes risks, is unladylike, unfashionable, and utterly suitable for Lord Vaughan if he would only take the hint that Lady Silvia cant stand him.

It’s not long before David realises there is a certain history with Beatrice that he needs and wants to find out why she is so cold towards him, even though they both know there’s a certain chemistry. Through some flashbacks we find out a little more of what went on 20 years previously and why both Beatrice and David have some personal hurts. David has come to terms with the past, and this allows Beatrice to move away from her guilt.

Whilst Beatrice and David are the centre couple, there’s enough time spent with the other two couples to keep the story balanced. Lady Bournaud is kept safely in the background, prone to napping by the fire and taking meals in her room for her to only make the occasional appearance.

The ending was different enough in that it wasn’t immediately tied up cleanly, meaning that not everyone got what they wanted. However, there was a last gift that brought it all together, which was a lit more realistic that the usual straight to “happily ever after”.

What I’m liking about the author is that as per her previous two books Married to a Rogue and The Vicount’s Valentine, this book covers older lovers (over 40s), who are meeting their proper loves later in life (sometimes having loved and lost them years before)

Librarything entry for this book
Goodreads entry for this book

About the Author:

Donna Lea Simpson is a nationally bestselling romance and mystery novelist with over twenty titles published in the last eleven years. Besides writing romance and mystery novels and reading the same, Donna has a long list of passions: cats and tea, cooking and vintage cookware, cross-stitching and watercolor painting among them. She lives in Canada

Book Review: This Christmas by Jeannie Moon

This ChristmasSingle mother Sabrina Gervais has built a happy life with her daughter Charlotte in their eastern Long Island hometown of Holly Point. Having Charlie meant putting some of her own dreams on hold, but Sabrina is content to surround herself with family and friends, safe from the realities of the outside world. She had enough of that when the man she loved broke her heart.

Jake Killen’s career in professional hockey has brought him many rewards on and off the ice, but returning to New York brings back a flood of memories. When he sees Sabrina again, he discovers that he didn’t just run away from her ten years ago, but also from their unborn child.

Struggling with anger, guilt, and chemistry that’s off the chart, Sabrina and Jake wonder if they can find love again and, this Christmas, make all their wishes come true.

From Tule Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for a review. One of a number of novellas set in New York around Christmas time.

It starts with Sabrina (“Bree”) finding out she’s 18 and pregnant by her brother’s skating team mate Jake. He’s no longer on the scene having gone back to his ex-fiancée who he believes is pregnant with his baby. Sabrina refuses to tell him that she is pregnant, as she sees that he has already made his decision and she doesnt want to make him choose.

Fast forward 10 years, and Jake is back in New York, having been divorced for much of the previous 8 years as he found out that Sydney had been cheating on him. On a children’s coaching session he meets Charlie, then meets Sabrina again and realises that he has a daughter he never knew about.

The next few months are spent where both Jake and Sabrina have to deal with the fact that both have made mistakes, both are still angry and sad at each other, but deep down they are still drawn to and in love with each other.

Good to see it doesnt turn out as an immediate “all is forgiven” situation, and there is some effort in showing how difficult things can be when emotions can turn on a dime. There are some nice touches for the Christmas period – Bree’s mother is Italian, so has lots of Christmas traditions (Including a wish box), both Bree and Nona have plenty of women friends on whom they can rely on, Bree’s father is a hulking huge man, who likes Jake but doesnt trust him; Charlie has spent years wishing for her father to turn up and now he’s here, wants to know him better. Slightly unsubtle “parents are away the one night the two of them are randy” but it was ok really.

There’s plenty of scope for other books in this series, so will be surprised if other books done come out.

Book Review: Backstabbing in Beaujolais by Jean-Pierre Alaux, Noël Balen

Backstabbing in BeaujolaisA business magnate calls on wine expert Benjamin Cooker to kickstart his new wine business in Beaujolais, sparking bitter rivalries. Can the Winemaker Detective and his assistant keep calculating real estate agents, taciturn winegrowers, dubious wine merchants and suspicious deaths from delaying delivery of the world-famous Beaujolais Nouveau?

Received from the publishers LeFrench Book via Netgalley in exchange for a review.

Another short investigation by Benjamin and Virgile, and a slight change in the format of the books just to keep things interesting – the story starts with a dead body, the goes back several months to introduce the back history, before announcing the killer.

Benjamin and Virgile have been commissioned by Guillaume Périthiard (a self made millionaire with a thing for watches) to help restore a wine estate in Beaujolais. Mr. Périthiard wants to return to the region where he grew up and become a major force in the wine making industry. However, not everyone is happy about his plans, in no small part because Périthiard is an ambitious man, and believes nothing cant be fixed without spending money.

Things take a turn for the worse when one of his new employees – poached from a competitor – dies while out hunting. Was it an accident or something more sinister?  Périthiard’s wife is threatening divorce, and Périthiard’s interest is being piqued by the wife of the local estate agent (who has managed to persuade Périthiard into investing in some restaurants as a side line).

While overseeing the restoration of the vines and wine making equipment it is up to Benjamin and Virgile to find out who is behind the murderous attempts to sabotage Mr. Périthiard’s business interests.

As usual there is some history and discussion of the Beaujolais wines, where we get to learn about the different types and the impact of the Nouveau run (as much of a marketing event in the 1990s as anything to do with wine) as well as some wonderful sounding meals. We also get to find that some of Cooker’s friends (a married couple of a successful writer and an artist) aren’t good cooks!

The murderer is identified as much by instinct and guess work as anything else, so it can seem to come rather suddenly, which can come as a surprise!

Book Review: The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay

The Bronte Plot

Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.

Received in ebook format from Netgalley in exchange for a review. It’s rare that I go after a book from an author I’ve never heard of before purely on the basis of the publisher’s PR email, but I did, and if I’m honest I’m going to think twice before I do it again.

It started off well – Lucy’s work for Sid, the pleasure she gets out of working with books and fabrics was detailed in a passionate and tactile way. This is not a Mills and Book romance after all, so when she starts dating James early on, the relationship doesn’t get laboured over – for instance, we don’t get pulled into her meeting James’ parents for the first time.

James, a lawyer with principles, finds out about some lies that Lucy has told to him and other clients, so dumps her. Lucy, whose English father has been off the scene for several decades, has been known to be a conman, although Lucy’s view of him is definitely rose-tinted (where she doesn’t believe he could have conned her, of all people).

She feels pressured to helping James’ grandmother on a trip to London, although she chooses to make use of the time to look up her father up near Castle Howard (where the Brontes used to live). There is much debate between Lucy herself, as well as her, James and Helen as to whether people can change, whether people are doomed to inherit and continue certain behaviours, and regrets over a route not taken. It’s here, and the grand exposition for Lucy and James that I lost interest and laboured through to the end.

Many comparisons are made between Lucy and the characters in her favourite Bronte books, both by Lucy and Helen, and I’m sure to followers of Rhey and the Brontes find much pleasure in this style of writing. There are plenty of reviews out there extolling how much the reader enjoys both this book and other works by the same author. However, for me it was too much hard work in the end!

In Summary: decent story, executed well (just not to my style of reading!), and probably best suited to those looking for some challenge in their reading, and/or with a decent understanding of the undercurrents in the works from all the Brontes



Sunday Salon: Adding blog content


What is your favourite electronic device to use to add posts and content to your blog? Example: Your phone, your computer, your iPad, or another device?

I add posts and cntent using a laptop, usually straight into the wordpress interface. I’m old fashioned and find it easier using a mouse and keyboard in order to type, cut and paste, format, add links etc.  I simply dont have the same control using an ipad!  I have the opportunity to post via email, but I’m not convinced that the formatting I wish would be maintained via the email interface, so it’s not something i often use. However, I’ve recently found that the formatting interface for WordPress, especially when it comes to pictures, doesn’t render posts like I would like it to, so it’s a tad frustrating (I have to write posts the way WordPress will allow, not how I want them to look!)

I try and ensure that the last check of my posts are done on a machine where there is at least some form of basic spell check. Whilst I like to think my spelling is fabulous,  I know that my typing is less so, so I try to run a post through to see if I can spot some deliberate mistakes!

How do you do the majority of your blogging?