Reading roundup 22/09/21

Oh, reading has been such a joy during the last week! For once, my choices were perfect for me and I found both books really absorbing, in their different ways.

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

My first book, which was a completely random choice, was The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. Here is the blurb:

”“My land tells its story if you listen. The story of our family.”

Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman’s only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows.

By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa’s tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive.

In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family.”

I read this book very quickly and wrote the following review on the Goodreads website:

The Four WindsThe Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 years of 5 stars

Well, this was an absolutely incredible book! Heartbreaking, tragic, but in the end uplifting. The story of an amazingly brave woman battling everything life could throw at her and her family in 1930s America.

In places, the unrelentingly grim and miserable story was almost too unbearable to read. But what would it have been like to live like this? To watch your children become thin and starved, to have to battle every day to earn enough to feed, clothe and house them.

I will be haunted by this book for a long time, I am sure.

View all my reviews

“Enjoy” is not the word for this book! It was, however, totally absorbing and well worth my time. For my next read I turned to a totally different genre: fantasy.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

I have had this book on reserve from the Library’s ebook service for some time and, on finishing it, I rushed to reserve the rest of the series! That gives you an idea of my reaction to Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses!

This is the blurb:

”When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.”

I think the series is probably Young Adult, and I am certainly not in that category! Anyway, I really enjoyed this book and you can read my reaction below:

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I love this book! I don’t care about other people’s opinions, or whether it is the best written book, or about flaws in the plot, or that other renderings of the Beauty and the Beast tale might be better etc., etc. I enjoyed reading it and I lost myself in it and it took away all of my worries whilst I read it. It also left me feeling happy, uplifted and looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

So, thank you to Sarah J Maas. You have really helped me to experience the magic of reading again during this time of chronic illness and severe depression. I am so glad that you have written lots of books as I now have another author’s works to explore!

Fantastic!

View all my reviews

After those two books, I am now reading another by Kristin Hannah. Which one? Well, you will find out in next week’s Reading Roundup post!

Until then, Happy Reading to you all.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Wardrobe Planning #31: Wardrobe colour wheel update #03

It is such a long time since I last looked at the colour wheels I created to help me organise my wardrobe! Back in 2018, I thought I had reached a final version but I should have known better. Nothing stays the same and, as my hair is now grey, I have included more grey items into my wardrobe.

Here are the older colour wheels to show how they have developed since I started this blog:

You can see I was using Excel and PowerPoint to create these charts! The new one is not quite as “pretty” as I used the “Numbers” app on this iPad and I am still learning how it works.

Today’s Wardrobe Colour wheel:

Wardrobe Colours Chart version #05

Anyway, this is what I am aiming for with my colour choices for my clothing. I sometimes branch out a bit with accessories, but a plan like this helps to avoid the scattergun approach.  With that, you often find that nothing in your wardrobe works with anything else!

The navy and grey are “base” colours, often called “neutrals”. These are the basic items that hold a wardrobe together and I have these colours in a range of clothing (tops and bottoms) and accessories such as boots, shoes and handbags. At the moment, I have a lot more navy items than grey. The other colours are “accents” which bring life to a wardrobe. Mine change slightly according to the season, like this:

  • Purple: Spring/Summer – lilac, lavender, bright and mid-purple. Autumn/Winter – deep, rich purple and mauve.
  • Turquoise: Spring/Summer – aqua, bright turquoise. Autumn/Winter – teal.
  • Cobalt and bright blue are year round colours for me.
  • Both pink and white/cream tend to be for warmer Spring/Summer days.

Jewellery and scarves can be in all shades of both my accent and neutral colours. In addition, I also have some in colours that are outside this plan, such as orange, red or amber. These are either old items, or gifts or simply bought on a whim!

Some purists also say that you should limit your jewellery and metallics to yellow or rose gold, or silver. I don’t go that far!

Phew! I think that is enough for today.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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P.S. If you are interested in how I have developed my colour wheels over the years, please click on the Wardrobe Planning tab at the top of the blog and you will see the posts in the list. Oh, and I must say that I saw the original idea on The Vivienne Files blog!

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Outfits of the week 17/09/21

Well, again it is only one outfit, but I actually managed to get dressed in something nice and go out of the house (which I haven’t done for a long time!). Wednesday was Lovely Husband’s birthday and we had some chores to do, which needed both of us. In addition, I wanted to have a ride out in the new car for the first time. So, we completed the chores and then I suggested that we could drive over to one of the garden centres, have a walk, and then sit down for a drink.

And we managed to do just that. At least we tried a kind of birthday celebration 🎉!

This is the outfit that I assembled…

Outfit of the day 15/09/21 with Hermès’ Tea Time

Here is the full list:

  • Grey short sleeved cotton top – Lands’ End.
  • Navy jeans – Klass.
  • Orange enamel flower earrings – old, not shown.
  • Cream and gold enamel bangle – Halcyon Days.
  • Silk scarf, 70cm, in orange, white and grey – Tea Time by Hermès. Tied in a simple triangular knot. As this was the first time of wearing, I need to practise a bit more so that more of the design is shown and also try to get the hearts the right way up!

With this outfit I carried my navy Massaccesi handbag and wore navy shoes. If I had had more energy, I would have dug out my gorgeous silver and grey Massaccesi bag and my grey jeans. I definitely need some grey or silver footwear to match!

OK, I know I need a haircut! I haven’t had it done since May!

Our week of peace and quiet will end this evening when Elder Son arrives home from his holiday. I have really missed him and it will be nice to hear all about his adventures.

Happy Weekend to you all.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 15/09/21

This will be a short post this week. It’s Lovely Husband’s birthday today so I am quite busy for once! More about that in Friday’s post. Anyway, I have one book to tell you about…

Find Them Dead by Peter James

I have already read quite a few books in Peter James’s Roy Grace series. This one, Find Them Dead, is actually the 16th! Here is the blurb:

Ending his secondment to London’s Met Police, Roy Grace gets a tip-off about a county lines drugs mastermind operating out of Brighton. On his first day back in his old job in Sussex, he is called to a seemingly senseless murder.

Separately, Meg Magellan finally has her life back together, five years after the car crash that killed her husband and their son. Her daughter, Laura, now 18, is on her gap year travelling in South America with a friend, and Meg misses her badly. Laura is all she has in the world.

In between jobs, Meg receives a summons for jury service. She’s excited – it might be interesting and will help distract her from constantly worrying about Laura. But when she is selected for the trial of a major Brighton drugs overlord, everything changes.

Gradually, Grace’s investigation draws him increasingly into the sinister sphere of influence of the drug dealer on trial. A man utterly ruthless and evil, prepared to order the death of anyone it takes to enable him to walk free.

Just a few days into jury service, Meg arrives home to find a photograph of Laura, in Ecuador, lying on her kitchen table. Then her phone rings.

A sinister, threatening stranger is on the line. He tells her that if she ever wants to see Laura alive again, it is very simple. At the end of the trial, all she has to do is make sure the jury says just two words . . . Not guilty.”

And this is what I wrote on the Goodreads website in response:

Find Them Dead (Roy Grace, #16)Find Them Dead by Peter James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an OK read. I have read other books in this series before, so the main recurring characters were all pretty familiar. Most of the plot took place in a courtroom, which was quite interesting, although there were passages that felt too long.

Most of the issues in the book were wrapped up neatly, with a couple hanging around to be resolved later in the series. There were certainly some dark foreboding clouds on the horizon!

This is the kind of series that you can slip into like a familiar police soap opera on TV. It’s an easy read, with some challenges along the way.

View all my reviews
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

After that book, I decided to completely change genres, so I am currently reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. It is really engaging so far and I will let you know how I get on with it in next week’s Reading Roundup post.

Until then:

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 13/09/21 with bits and bobs!

Well, this is going to be an unusual week for me and Lovely Husband! Elder Son is away until Friday for a holiday on his own. He has been looking forward to it for months and, in recent weeks, has become very nervous. Usually, he is a very confident traveller, but under the present circumstances he has been worrying about how COVID my affect his trip. He is terrified of catching it and then being really ill and is also scared that he might pass it on to us. So, I have spent a lot of time trying to reassure him in the hope that he can have a really enjoyable holiday, which he deserves.

ES is so sweet and helpful. As I spend so much time in bed, he makes and brings me meals and snacks, treats me to all kinds of buns and crisps (which I shouldn’t eat!) with copious pots of tea, and also makes sure that my box of medications is up-to-date and well-stocked. In addition, he loves hugs, watching silly videos on YouTube together and telling me all about his current interests. All of this is amazing when you consider he has Autism and Learning Difficulties. He is a wonderful person for 99% of the time and can be very difficult to handle and live with for about 1%!

Despite me telling him to save his money to spend on his own needs, he loves to cheer me up with unexpected gifts. This collection recently appeared in my bedroom. The two outer scarves are very large and will be great for snuggling in the colder months. One has a very loose weave in an ice blue colour; the other is pale blue and is more substantial. The shiny satin scarf has a large initial “A” in the centre and is a smaller size. The black woven-effect zipped pouch with the gilt “A” will be handy inside my larger handbags or could be used as a clutch.

Isn’t he kind?

Gift items from Primark

It is also LH’s birthday this week. I don’t think I will be strong enough to go out for a celebratory meal, which I would love to do, but I am sure that we will manage to mark the day in some way. It will certainly be very strange to be on our own! I think it is over 30 years since we last had a birthday without either of our lads.

See you on Wednesday for the usual Reading Roundup post.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Outfits of the week 10/09/21

I haven’t used the title “Outfits of the Week” for ages! We have had hot, sticky weather this week and this has really taken its toll on my health. Most days, I have stayed in bed with heat exhaustion, despite the fan next to me. On Wednesday, however, I managed to put on a nice outfit, which gave Lovely Husband quite a surprise!

You may remember this “dress” that I bought earlier in the year…

Marigold block print cotton nightdress in cerulean blue – Toast

Well, yes, it is a nightdress but I have decided to wear it during the day instead! This collage shows how…

Outfit of the day 08/09/21 with Toast nightdress

I think that all of these blues are wonderful! The bracelet is by Halcyon Days and the earrings were from a boutique that has sadly closed down. My navy or tan sandals would have worked well with this ensemble.

Once the weather cools down again, I must put together more outfits. Well, I will try!

Happy Weekend to you all.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 08/09/21

As it is a fortnight since I last wrote a Reading Roundup post, I have two completed books to tell you about plus another that I didn’t finish. Let’s deal with that first…

The Scar by China Miéville

So, this is the book that I didn’t manage to finish: The Scar by China Miéville. To start, here is the blurb:

Winner of the British Fantasy Award, The Scar by China Miéville is a colossal fantasy of incredible diversity and spellbinding imagination, set in the richly visualized world of Bas-Lag.

A human cargo bound for servitude in exile . . .

A pirate city hauled across the oceans . . .

A hidden miracle about be revealed . . .

These are the ingredients of an astonishing story. It is the story of a prisoner’s journey. Of the search for the island of a forgotten people, for the most astonishing beast in the seas, and ultimately for a fabled place – a massive wound in reality, a source of unthinkable power and danger.”

I have been meaning to try this author’s books for a long time and this, with its awards, seemed like the perfect choice. Anyway, this is my response, as written on Goodreads:

The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2)The Scar by China Miéville
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have read around 150 pages and have now given up. I am sure that this is probably a great book for many people (judging by the reviews on here), but it’s not for me.

I am just bored and can’t take any more of the endless descriptive passages and the huge list of names for places and creatures with nothing much happening!

View all my reviews

Oh dear! My brain just couldn’t deal with this book and I simply had to stop trying to battle on with it. Maybe, I will try it again one day…

Maybe…

Anyway, let’s move on to better things…

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

My following two books were much more successful choices. I have read some of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s work before, so was excited to find his newest book, Shards of Earth #01 The Final Architects Trilogy, on our Library’s ebook catalogue. Here is the blurb:

The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us an extraordinary new space opera about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .


Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.


After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared – and Idris and his kind became obsolete.


Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.”

Like the previous book, this one was very complex but the writing was much more accessible for me. This my five star review – I apologise for the brevity:

Shards of Earth (The Final Architects Trilogy, #1)Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! I have only just finished this amazing book and the story and characters are still bouncing around my brain! In some ways I am sad that this experience is over, but I am comforted by the thought that this is the first book in a new series.

The author’s world-building and alien creature creation is excellent. It took me a while to feel comfortable with all of this, but eventually it all began to fit together. I particularly enjoyed reading about the female warriors of the “Parthenon”. As a former student of Ancient Greece, this aspect of the book was interesting as well as intriguing.

The only down side of reading this is that I will now have to wait until the author publishes the next book!

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I think I might have to search for some other books by Adrian Tchaikovsky whilst I wait for the sequels to this one!

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

My final book (I only finished it late last night) is Karin Slaughter’s False Witness. This is the blurb:

”Leigh Collier has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She’s an up-and-coming defense attorney at a prestigious law firm in Atlanta, would do anything for her sixteen-year-old daughter Maddy, and is managing to successfully coparent through a pandemic after an amicable separation from her husband Walter.

But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood no one should have to endure … a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and ultimately destroyed by a brutal act of violence.

On a Sunday night at her daughter’s school play, she gets a call from one of the firm’s partners who wants Leigh to come on board to defend a wealthy man accused of multiple counts of rape. Though wary of the case, it becomes apparent she doesn’t have much choice if she wants to keep her job. They’re scheduled to go to trial in one week. When she meets the accused face-to-face, she realizes that it’s no coincidence that he’s specifically asked for her to represent him. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he may know what happened over twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades avoiding her past.

Suddenly she has a lot more to lose than this case. The only person who can help is her younger, estranged sister Callie—the last person Leigh would ever want to drag into this after all they’ve been through. But with the life-shattering truth in danger of being revealed, she has no choice…”

I must say that I am a huge fan of Karin Slaughter’s work. This is my four star review:

False WitnessFalse Witness by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the darkest and most brutal books I have ever read. The author doesn’t hold anything back in her descriptions of the effects of drug addiction, crime, abuse and violence. At several points I almost put the book down as I felt that I couldn’t take much more mental battery from this grim tale. But then, I would become drawn in to the next development of the characters or the plot and decide to stay with it for a bit longer, because Slaughter is such an amazing and gripping writer.

Slaughter certainly is not afraid to challenge her readers to face up to the dark truths of contemporary society. As I just said, I almost couldn’t manage this…

… but I am glad that I did!

View all my reviews

OK, so after that I think I need a change of pace for my next read. I have already downloaded some fresh ebooks to my account and will go through them and decide which one I am going to tackle. So, you will find out what I have chosen in next week’s Reading Roundup post!

Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne 

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Update 06/09/21 with a fresh and pretty reveal

First of all, I must say that I am glad to be back! I won’t go into the details, but will just say that I had an awful few days last week feeling even more ill than usual. I was more or less back to my “normal” by last weekend, thankfully.

So, today we have a reveal! Here we go…

Yes, this is an Hermès 70cm silk scarf named “Tea Time”! The scarf was designed by Jonathan Burton, the colours are “Orange, Gris, Blanc” and the purchase code is H983782S 08.

Those of you who either know me in real life or who have followed this blog for a while will know that I am a confirmed tea addict. So, of course I had to own this scarf! It has been very popular so far this season and had sold out on the Hermès website. When only this colourway re-appeared, I moved quickly to secure it. If any other colourways eventually pop up again on the site, I may purchase another. If that happens, it will be the first time that I have ever bought two Hermès designs in the same format!

Now, I will show you the actual scarf and also the image from the website. Very soon I hope to feel well enough to compile a Scarf of the Moment post with this cute scarf’s full profile, including images and codes for the other colourways.

Here is a quick modelling photo that I took at the weekend. I am not sure if this bright cobalt blue is a good foil for the scarf – what do you think?

Outfit of the day 04/09/21 with Hermès’ Tea Time scarf

The scarf is now hanging on my mirror, waiting for me to feel well enough to wear it. I am sure that it will look great with my navy or grey outfits this Autumn and Winter and bring a lovely pop of colour and whimsy.

Goodbye for now. Wednesday’s post will be the usual Reading Roundup.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 30/08/21 with a break

Apologies to you all! I am taking a break again because I am really ill and cannot post properly.

See you again soon!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 27/08/21

Oh, apologies again for the lack of an “Outfits” post. At the moment, I am really struggling to raise enough energy to get out of bed, never mind actually getting dressed in any kind of outfit. I know I have written something like this over and over again, so apologies for that too, but this time of isolation is really grinding me down.

Right, I must shake off these grim feelings (I am in the middle of watching the latest series of The Handmaid’s Tale, so that doesn’t help!). We do actually have some nicer news: after over ten years with the same car, we have just bought a new (to us) one. Lovely Husband has just driven it home and so I sat in the passenger seat whilst he showed me all of its gadgets. And has it got gadgets!!!

Since I had the stroke, almost two years ago now, I have not been allowed to drive. To be honest, despite regaining much of what was lost, I really don’t feel capable of driving. My vision still has a few blind spots and my memory issues are such that I wouldn’t trust myself to remember what to do in a sudden situation. It’s sad because I enjoyed driving and I passed my test at seventeen.

Well, at least LH will have a newer and safer car to drive and I am very pleased about that!

Happy Weekend to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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