Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmener

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

I picked up the ARC for this at a Blogging event at a local bookstore back in January 2017. I’m not a huge YA fan, and only make occasional forays into this genre. I always have a fear that YA books will be too earnest and patronising.

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WIP: Jeanne Ries Sampler

I’m not reading much at the minute so I thought I’d share what I AM working on at the minute.

This is known as the “Jeanne Ries” sampler (it can be brought from various places, including here).

On the right is an image of one of the chart panels (there are nine in all). For those who dont do cross stitch, or know how to read one of the charts, every dot on a chart represents a single cross stitch  to be stitched. Below (left) is a photo of my version of a part of the same page.

A couple of points about how I stitch items like this:

These items are HUGE (30 x 18 inches). There is a lot of stitching, and it is very easy to get lost, go wrong etc. Sometimes it doesnt matter, but sometimes, missing a stitch can be fatal in having things join up and look good. Therefore I often stitch the outline (i.e. half the stitch), make sure it lines up, and then fill in the rest of the stitching when I’m happy.

These items are HUGE. Therefore there is a lot of “Baggage” when stitching something like this – the 9 sheets of design, the needles, threads etc. It takes up space. If I’m going away for instance, and I know I will have stitching time, but it will be limited, I dont want to take the entire WIP bag with me. If I have done the ground work, I can just bring the piece, needles and enough thread to fill the time. I dont need to bring the design etc, with the potential risk of losing a sheet of the pattern. As you can see in the photo, I have also parked my needles in the wip itself – that way I dont have to bring needle cushion with me either.

On the right is the same area of the stitching mounted up on a frame. This frame is about 8 inches, and allows me to work on a specific area, keep it tight, and therefore allow for the stitches to have the same tension.

 

 

 

This is the back of my work. There are snobs out there who look at the back of sewing, then deride the stitcher if the back doesn’t look as good as the front. Well you know what? That’s unbelievably rude. I do this out of enjoyment; I give because I want to. I do none of this to have someone else come in to criticise me.  Once I have finished, I will go and cut extra threads away and do a general tidy up – I once forgot to do this, and the threads were visible once the item had been framed up – never again!

 

 

 

Inspector Montalbano: Equal Time, Collection 3, Episode 2

This is based on another short story, and therefore not based on a complete book.     

The episode starts with two men pulling up in a car, with one getting out and approaching a young blond girl on a moped. Scared, she throws her helmet at him and rides off, with the men giving chase. She nearly loses them a couple of times in the narrow backstreets, but decides to ditch the moped once out in the countryside. The men fire at her as she runs across the fields, missing her, but letting her go.

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Book Review: The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

The bestselling author of Richard & Judy Book Club hit The Cold Season returns with a chilling mystery – where superstition and myth bleed into real life with tragic consequences

Pretty Lizzie Higgs is gone, burned to death on her own hearth – but was she really a changeling, as her husband insists? Albie Mirralls met his cousin only once, in 1851, within the grand glass arches of the Crystal Palace, but unable to countenance the rumours that surround her murder, he leaves his young wife in London and travels to Halfoak, a village steeped in superstition.

Albie begins to look into Lizzie’s death, but in this place where the old tales hold sway and the ‘Hidden People’ supposedly roam, answers are slippery and further tragedy is just a step away

From Netgalley in exchange for a review, this is very much in the style of a Gothic Novel, with the potential for the “hidden people” to be influencing events at every turn.

Albert (Albie) Mirralls is working at his father’s firm in the city, and he goes to the Great Exhibition of 1851, where he meets  his  cousin, Lizzie, and her father. Despite them only meeting the once, Albie convinces himself that he is in love with his first cousin, and that they would someday meet again and marry. However, a decade passes, Albie has married Helena, and is stunned when he hears of Lizzie’s violent death at a still relatively young age.

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Book Review: The Colour by Rose Tremaine

Newlyweds Joseph and Harriet Blackstone emigrate from England to New Zealand, along with Joseph’s mother Lilian, in search of new beginnings and prosperity, but the harsh land near Christchurch where they settle threatens to destroy them almost before they begin. When Joseph finds gold in a creek bed, he hides the discovery from both his wife and mother and becomes obsessed with the riches awaiting him deep in the earth. Abandoning his farm and family, he sets off alone for the new goldfields over the Southern Alps, a moral wilderness where many others, under the seductive dreams of the “colour,” rush to their destinies and doom.

Paper edition from my bookgroup.

I am the first to admit that my reading has been “off” for about 6 months, if not longer, so I am probably not operating at my full game. That said, I am sad to admit that The Colour is the first DNF of 2017.

Three people make the perilous journey from England to New Zealand to make a new life. Joseph; Harriet, his wife of a few months; and Lilian, his mother. Each person has their own reason for leaving England and each has a different idea what the country will offer them. However, the country instantly puts them on the back food, especially x, as the seasons are topsy turvey and they have little time to prepare for winter. Out of stubbornness, Joseph builds his house in the wrong place, using the wrong material, and it soon becomes clear how wrong the decision was.

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Book Review: Meet Me At Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

Ellie Matthews has come to Wychwood-on-Lea to find a new start for her and her daughter Abby. But, life there doesn’t start out as idyllic as she had hoped. While Ellie loves her cute cottage in Willoughby Close, the Yummy Mummies at the primary school seem intent on giving her the cold shoulder, Abby has trouble fitting in, and her boss, Oliver Venables, is both surprisingly sexy and irritatingly inscrutable.

But miracles can happen in the most unexpected places, and in small, yet wonderful ways. Slowly, Ellie and Abby find themselves making friends and experiencing the everyday magic of Willoughby Close. When Oliver’s nephew, Tobias, befriends Abby, the four of them start to feel like family… and Ellie begins to see the kindness and warmth beneath Oliver’s chilly exterior, which awakens both her longing and fear.

Ellie knows all about disappointment, and the pain of trying too hard for nothing, while Oliver has his own hurts and secrets to deal with. When the past comes rollicking back to remind both of them of their weaknesses and failings, will they be able to overcome their fears and find their own happy ending?

Picked up from Netgalley and read over the New Year – it’s only now, in checking reviews that I’ve realised that I haven’t written one for this book!

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Blogging: guess what? It’s hard work

coffee book reading
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I was at a blogging event recently and arrived a few minutes after it started to find a slightly unusual dynamic had emerged:

An older American lady sitting in a chair, surrounded by young English bloggers – some of whom are still very new to blogging. The American, who had never been to one of these events before, was dominating the conversation and had been from the beginning of the session, and it soon became clear that she had *no* experience of writing or publishing for anonymous readers, blogging in general, commenting, networking, social media accounts and in fact, had little experience of the internet as a whole.   She had decided that she was going to use this event as a “learn how to blog in an hour” session, and wanted to learn *everything* about blogging, whether or not that’s what the event was about.

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