Update 13/06/19

I cannot write much today – severe health issues again – but I have uploaded this amazing video. A friend posted it on Facebook last night and I watched it this morning. When I was a child I learned to play the recorder, as most British school children did in those days. I even thought I was quite good at it!

After watching this, I have changed that thought…

Here is an article about the video:

Open Culture
The Recorder Played Like You’ve Never Heard it Before

Best wishes,

🎼🎵🎶🎵🎼

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Reading roundup 12/06/19

I have spent a lot of time reading during this last week; it is the one compensation of being stuck in bed! Well, you do have to try to find the positive side where you can.

Malice by John Gwynne

My first read of the week was the start of another fantasy series: Malice by John Gwynne (#01 of The Faithful and the Fallen). Here is the blurb:

A black sun is rising …

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage.

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars.

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

This was a thick and meaty read, just what I needed! It was worth close to the full five stars, but not quite. This is my review on Goodreads:

Good and exciting fantasy debut, although not without some issues. The scene setting at the beginning was quite slow with what seemed to be multiple coming of age storylines from a range of characters. The fantasy world itself was quite intriguing and the author used a large number of different points of view to set out the lives of his main characters, spread across various parts of a continent seemingly at peace. This large population of characters quickly became a problem for me. Many of the names were similar and, partly because most of them were male, I got quite confused at the beginning of some chapters. Perhaps a list of characters would have been helpful?

As I read further into the book, the plot gained pace and I liked how the author managed to draw out a growing sense of menace and possible betrayal. By the end of the book events were moving even faster and I began to look forward to the next book in the series.

I now have books two and three on reserve at the library!

Yes, I will soon be picking up the next books in the series and I am really looking forward to reading them.

Hunted by Paul Finch

My second read of the week was a change from the fantasy genre to crime: Hunted (#05 DS Heckenburg) by Paul Finch. This is the blurb:

Heck needs to watch his back. Because someone’s watching him…

Across the south of England, a series of bizarre but fatal accidents are taking place. So when a local businessman survives a near-drowning but is found burnt alive in his car just weeks later, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is brought in to investigate.

Soon it appears that other recent deaths might be linked: two thieves that were bitten to death by poisonous spiders, and a driver impaled through the chest with scaffolding.

Accidents do happen but as the body count rises it’s clear that something far more sinister is at play, and it’s coming for Heck too…

This book made quite a nice change after reading quite a few long fantasy novels and I did enjoy it. It was well worth three stars and here is my review:

I found this book to be a fast, gripping and easy read. The plot was inventive, although extremely gruesome in places. The main character was engaging and realistic without too many stereotypes. I probably won’t go out of my way to read other books in the series, but will certainly pick them up if I happen across them in the library. All in all, a well-written crime novel that keeps the reader interested.

The Plague Stones by James Brogden

I swapped genres again for my third book – to horror this time. I don’t think that I have read a true horror novel for ages, so this made a nice change: The Plague Stones by James Brogden. Here is the blurb:

Fleeing from a traumatic break-in, Londoners Paul and Tricia Feenan sell up to escape to the isolated Holiwell village where Tricia has inherited a property. Scattered throughout the settlement are centuries-old stones used during the Great Plague as boundary markers. No plague-sufferer was permitted to pass them and enter the village. The plague diminished, and the village survived unscathed, but since then each year the village trustees have insisted on an ancient ceremony to renew the village boundaries, until a misguided act by the Feenans’ son then reminds the village that there is a reason traditions have been rigidly stuck to, and that all acts of betrayal, even those committed centuries ago, have consequences…

The book was exciting and quite gripping and, I think, worth around three to four stars. And here is my review on Goodreads:

A pretty standard horror tale and well worth reading. Good characters and an interesting historical background. Full of the usual horror themes: standing stones, blood and boils, nasty deaths and evil betrayers. I will probably read other books by this author if I find them in the Library.

As usual, I really recommend that visitors to my blog explore sites such as Goodreads, LibraryThing and the many excellent book blogs that are available. In fact, I would welcome suggestions on the best blogs to list in the sidebar. Any ideas?

Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds

I have now just started my new book – science fiction this time! It is Elysium Fire by Alastair Reynolds and I will review it in time for next week’s Reading Roundup post.

Happy Reading to you all and very best wishes,

📚📖📚📖📚

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Outfit of the day 11/06/19

It rained all night and it has rained all day (so far). It feels more like November than June. I have been so cold today that I pulled out my heavier navy cotton cable jumper – I had put it away for the Summer!

Anyway, it has made a nice outfit with this cute gavroche – Bateau Fleuri…

Outfit of the day 11/06/19 with Hermès’ Bateau Fleuri gavroche

Today’s outfit:

  • Navy cotton cable jumper – Lands’ End.
  • Navy cotton joggers – Cotton Traders.
  • Teal enamel and crystal earrings – Marks and Spencer. I couldn’t find an image of them.
  • Silk gavroche in navy, turquoise, pink and lavender – Bateau Fleuri – Hermès. Tied in a simple cowboy knot.

I haven’t been able to do much today as I had so little sleep last night because of the howling wind and rain. We did watch a TV programme, but I have spent the rest of the day reading in bed, trying to keep warm because I will not put the central heating on in June! Lovely Husband and I were laughing this morning as we talked about finding some Yorkshire “grit” to cope with the cold. Perhaps we should be wearing thick vests, thermals, Vick on the chest covered with brown paper, wool jumpers, bobble hats and gloves…

…and maybe a scarf or two!

Best wishes,

🌧💨🌧💨🌧

PS. If you want to find more information about this pretty gavroche (there is also a 90cm size available), please have a look at my Scarf of the Moment profile of Bateau Fleuri.

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Diet and exercise plan #09: 10/06/19

I have decided to pick up these posts again in order to try and track any progress that I make. Unlike my attempts last time, which finished in September 2018, I probably won’t post on this theme weekly or keep to any set pattern, but just write when I feel that I have made some progress.

This has come about because, at my last appointment with my main consultant on the 25th of May, I was told that I must do more exercise to prevent muscle wastage, bone loss and deterioration in my heart and lungs. Basically, I have to do something so that I don’t end up completely bedridden and using a wheelchair. It is true that I can already feel weakness in my wrists and arms and I constantly feel exhausted and weak.

I have got to this point with the pattern of my days:

  • Awake around 7.30, eat a banana as I always feel very nauseous.
  • Breakfast around 8.30 – pot of tea, porridge made with a little sugar and whole milk.
  • Morning medication at 10.00.
  • Stay in bed until around 11.00 – this is on a “good” day. Downstairs to sit in lounge with Lovely Husband to chat and watch TV.
  • Lunch at around 12.00 – tinned fish, cheese, or chicken with salad and artisan type bread; or boiled or scrambled eggs and bread; pot of tea.
  • Early afternoon – some household tasks such as stacking the dishwasher, dealing with washing, general tidying up – this is on a good day.
  • Back to bed around 14.30. On a good day I will get up occasionally to do another tasks such as tidying a bedroom, otherwise I sit and read.
  • Mid-afternoon – snack of an apple and a piece of cheese with a pot of tea at around 15.30.
  • Dinner at around 18.30 – just a main course with meat or fish, vegetables and potatoes or rice. Yet another pot of tea (decaf from now on).
  • Evening – meds at 21.00 and 22.00.
  • Sleep at any time from about 22.30.

On very good days, which are increasingly rare, we might go out for a couple of hours after lunch to a garden centre for a drink and a walk around. This hasn’t happened for a long time. On Fridays I have my counselling session at 11.30 in a nearby town and usually manage to attend. LH also regularly takes me to the Library to top up my book pile.

Anyway, after the appointment with my consultant I was quite fired up to do something about my situation, however, unfortunately I became more ill and was unable to even start taking exercise. This continued until last Thursday. Yes, I finally felt well enough to go for a walk! It took quite a lot longer than my usual 8 to 10 minutes and I was very dizzy when I got home. Since then, I have managed another couple of walks around the block and have felt a little better afterwards each time.

Today is another matter and I have been very weak again but I am not going to let this get me down. I will try again tomorrow…

Best wishes,

💛💚❤️💙💜🧡

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Outfit of the day 07/06/19

It has been raining heavily for most of the day and so I had to wear my best waterproof coat when we went out. I took a bit of a risk in using one of my Hermès scarves, but was very careful to avoid getting it wet. Although I was extremely tired (yesterday evening was pretty horrible with Elder Son kicking off), I did manage to attend my counselling appointment. I really needed to go so that I could offload and deal with some of my distress from the previous day. Let’s hope that he has calmed down by the time he comes home tonight.

Outfit of the day 07/06/19 with Hermès’ Mythiques Phoenix Coloriage scarf

Today’s outfit:

  • White cotton crew neck t-shirt – Sainsbury’s Tu.
  • Bright navy cotton mix crew neck cardigan – Lands’ End.
  • Indigo cotton straight leg jeans – Klass.
  • Crystal and gold tone Owl earrings – Sainsbury’s Tu.
  • Coral pink enamel and gold Agama bangle – Halcyon Days.
  • Blue enamel and gold Agama bangle – Halcyon Days.
  • Silk scarf, 90cm, in pink, red, denim blue and white – Mythiques Phoenix Coloriage – Hermès. Tied in my favourite asymmetric wrap.

This was a deliberate attempt to show how a change in accessories makes such a difference to an outfit. My clothes were very similar to those I wore yesterday, but the change to pink and mid blue accessories changes the whole look!

Let’s hope that the sun comes out over the weekend. Younger Son will be staying with us overnight on his return from holiday and I am looking forward to a quick catch-up before he goes back to work. I still cannot bring myself to write “goes home” 😟.

Anyway, I do hope that you all have a fantastic weekend.

Best wishes,

💜💙❤️💚💛🧡

PS. If you like this Mythiques Phoenix Coloriage scarf and you would like more information, please do have a look at my Scarf of the Moment post.

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Outfit of the day 06/06/19

I actually managed a walk this morning! As I was feeling very sluggish and sleepy, I took the bull by the horns and dragged myself out of bed, late morning, and walked around the block. On a good day, this usually takes me less than ten minutes at a reasonably fast pace, but this time it was around fifteen. For the last few yards, I was staggering a bit and I must have looked tipsy to any passers by, but I did it!

I am feeling very pleased indeed even if my legs are now complaining – 😁.

This scarf, by Roberto Cavalli, doesn’t come out of my scarf drawer very often. It is a large rectangular silk satin stole. The centre of the design is in gorgeous blues and reminds me of the Aegean Sea. The blues then shade into animal print in browns around the border. I pretend that I am somewhere warm and exotic when I wear it. It would look great worn with a strappy maxi dress whilst dining in a Greek restaurant overlooking the sea. (Pause, whilst I remember nights spent with souvlaki, Greek salad, rough crusty bread, olives and red wine… and, perhaps, a handsome Greek… don’t go there!).

Outfit of the day 06/06/19 with Roberto Cavalli’s animal print stole

Today’s outfit:

  • White cotton crew neck t-shirt – Sainsbury’s Tu.
  • Bright navy cotton mix crew neck cardigan – Lands’ End.
  • Navy cotton joggers – Cotton Traders.
  • Natural horn and cream lacquer earrings – Quecraft via Etsy.
  • Animal print enamel and gold bangle – Halcyon Days.
  • Silk stole in blue and brown animal print – Roberto Cavalli.

I also wore my new pull-on shoes in navy nubuck by Hotter and they were so comfortable on my walk. Here is a reminder…

“Daisy” and “Brooke” by Hotter

Lovely Husband is spending the day, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, thinking about his father who was very badly wounded on D-Day plus 4. He was severely burned when the tank he was in blew up and spent several nights immersed in mud in a bomb crater before being found. It is a miracle that he recovered and went on to have a family. He was only 25 when this happened, younger than our two sons are now. That fact really shocks me! Sending best wishes to those of you who have been affected by war.

Thank you for reading my blog,

❤️💙💛💜💚🧡

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Reading roundup 05/06/19

We have arrived in June already and I have finished 44 books so far. I find it hard to believe how fast this year is passing by.

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

This week I read two very different books and am almost halfway through a third. The first was Mark Lawrence’s Holy Sister, #03 in his Book of the Ancestor trilogy. This is the blurb:

They came against her as a child. Now they face the woman.

The ice is advancing, the Corridor narrowing, and the empire is under siege from the Scithrowl in the east and the Durns in the west. Everywhere, the emperor’s armies are in retreat.

Nona faces the final challenges that must be overcome if she is to become a full sister in the order of her choice. But it seems unlikely that Nona and her friends will have time to earn a nun’s habit before war is on their doorstep.

Even a warrior like Nona cannot hope to turn the tide of war.

The shiphearts offer strength that she might use to protect those she loves, but it’s a power that corrupts. A final battle is coming in which she will be torn between friends, unable to save them all. A battle in which her own demons will try to unmake her.

A battle in which hearts will be broken, lovers lost, thrones burned.

I really enjoyed this series and all three books were excellent to the point that it would be difficult to choose one to be my favourite! So I awarded this one the full five stars and added it to my “favourites. Once again, I struggled to write a review without giving too much away…

What an excellent trilogy this has been. I have enjoyed all three books so much and this one gave a fantastic ending to the tale. It is so rare for a male author to write such great female characters and even rarer for one to create a series where females dominate (and not by being sex-symbols). Mark Lawrence has done this brilliantly. Nina was a fantastic character and I do hope that Lawrence returns to her story one day. The other main protagonists were also very well-written with enough variety between them. The whole story was well-paced and exciting, but I still want to know more about the Corridor, how the moon works and what really happened to Nona’s father on the ice!

I love how Lawrence blends fantasy with a pinch of science fiction and look forward to reading more books by him in the future.

At this point I really must give a recommendation that you read some of the reviews about this book (and the rest of Mark Lawrence’s work) on Goodreads. There are so many excellent ones that are much more thoughtful and better written than mine.

Wolf Pack by CJ Box

In last week’s roundup I wrote about The Disappeared by CJ Box, #18 in his Joe Pickett series. This week, #19 Wolf Pack appeared in my library ebook account as I had reserved it some weeks ago. This is the blurb:

Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett encounters bad behavior on his own turf–only to have the FBI and the DOJ ask him to stand down.

The good news is that Joe Pickett has his job back, after his last adventure in The Disappeared. The bad news is that he’s come to learn that a drone is killing wildlife–and the drone belongs to a mysterious and wealthy man whose grandson is dating Joe’s own daughter, Lucy.

When Joe tries to lay down the rules for the drone operator, he is asked by the FBI and the DOJ to stand down, which only makes him more suspicious. Joe discovers that the man is in the witness relocation program, as he is in possession of knowledge about dangerous people. Soon, Joe comes across a pack of four killers working on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel to find the man in the WITSEC program–and Joe realizes his actions might expose the man.

Teaming up with a female game warden (based on a real person, one of the few female game wardens at work in Wyoming today) to confront these assassins, Joe finds himself their prey–along with Lucy and her boyfriend.

Although I mostly enjoyed The Disappeared, I did have some strong reservations about the book and only gave it three stars. This one was a lot better, so four stars it is!

This was much better than the previous book in the series, The Disappeared. The whole book was much more tightly plotted with real excitement and a sense of danger. Yes, a lot of the story was rather OTT, but that added to rather than subtracted from the tale. I love the descriptions of the scenery and animal life in these books which give this urban Brit such a feel for the Great Outdoors in this region of the USA. Joe and his family, and Nate, are great characters and Box continues to develop them in interesting directions!

Malice by John Gwynne

I am now halfway through a book which looks as if it will be leading me into another fantasy series. Malice by John Gwynne, #01 of The Faithful and the Fallen, has been very enjoyable so far and I am going to return to it as soon as I have finished writing this post!

Until next week’s Reading Roundup…

…Happy Reading to you all!

Best wishes,

📚📖📚📖📚

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