Reading roundup 16/06/21

This will be a short post today as I am not feeling very well and I only have one book to write about. 

Pine by Francine Toon

My book of the week was Pine by Francine Toon. Here is the blurb:

They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.”

I chose this book entirely at random from our public library’s ebook system, so I had no preconceptions at all. This is the review that I wrote on the Goodreads site:

PinePine by Francine Toon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not sure what to make of this book or how to write a review! It appears that there are very mixed reactions to it on Goodreads also.

So, what did I like about it? The atmosphere and setting were very well written. There was a real disturbing creepiness, alongside beautiful descriptions of nature and the changing seasons. Many of the characters were also very well depicted – particularly Lauren and her father. The situation that the two of them were in was also very sad and haunting.

True, the pace was somewhat slow with most of the “action” crammed into the last few pages. But at least there was a clear and satisfying ending.

This was completely different to my usual style of book. Usually I like fast-paced plots with vivid characters and plenty of action: the kind of books that really stay in my mind for a long time. Pine wasn’t at all like that, but will, for different reasons, remain with me for a considerable time.

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After this book, I chose The Other People by C J Tudor. As I have only just read the first few pages, my response will appear in next week’s Reading Roundup post.

The Other People by C J Tudor

I do hope that you are all reading great books at the moment!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 14/06/21: my Massaccesi handbag lineup!

First of all, I hope that you all had a lovely weekend and that those of you who have it are enjoying the sunny weather. In this part of the UK it is very warm and sticky at the moment and I really wish that we could live near the sea!

When I have had enough energy, I have been trying to sort out one of my wardrobes. I keep my gorgeous Massaccesi handbags at the bottom, so I got them all out yesterday. Whilst they were out, I decided to take some photos of them all. Here they are…

Handbags by Massaccesi

The handbags are, from back row left to right:

  • Full size Victoria in grape Croco leather with handles in carmine Nappa leather,
  • Midi Modena in white Pebbled leather,
  • Full size Diane in titanium and silver Metallic leather,
  • Full size Victoria in amethyst Pebbled leather.

Middle row left to right:

  • Midi Selene zip in dark blue Africa leather,
  • Midi Muse in bluette Pompei leather,
  • Full size Minerva in teal pebbled leather,
  • Midi Selene in purple Africa leather.

Front row left to right:

  • Midi Penelope in bronze Africa leather,
  • Midi Victoria in teal Flor and teal Nappa leathers.

So that you can see them all more clearly, I have gathered some images into a slideshow…

I am so lucky that I can afford such a beautiful collection! Most are pretty large as I have so much stuff that I need to drag around with me. Small bags won’t hold enough for me these days. Now, I think that I shouldn’t buy any more as I have more than enough handbags for every occasion. Although one in a bright turquoise would be nice – after all that is one of my wardrobe colours 😂🤣😂🤣😂!

OK, I think that is all for now. Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you might have about Massaccesi handbags in the comments section. There is also a long thread about them on The Purse Forum. Oh, and I’m only writing about them because I adore the whole experience and the products. Marco is such a lovely man and deserves support from his customers!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 11/06/21: hunting for pretty nightwear… continued!

If you read Monday’s post, you will be aware that I am trying to find some Summer nightwear! I hadn’t had a great deal of luck, although I had managed to find two nightdresses from John Lewis, which are both lovely. In fact, I am wearing the one on the left in the image below as I write this post…

Nightdresses by John Lewis

I really love the chemise style (above, right) for this very hot weather (and so does Lovely Husband), so I looked on other sites for something similar. Eventually, I chose these two items from Marks and Spencer…

Nightdresses by Marks and Spencer

The parcel arrived this morning, so I tried both of them on and I am happy to keep them. I wore the navy nightdress on the left when I went downstairs for lunch and it was comfortable, cool and looks almost like a dress. It comes down to my ankles and skims over my rather unfortunate shape! I think LH will like the other one, although I wish it were available in more colours – something cheerful and bright for the Summer?

Anyway, I am now only waiting for the two items from Toast and then I will have finished restocking my nightwear for the time being.

I do hope that you have a great weekend!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Reading roundup 09/06/21

I have just the one book to write about this week. The weather is so hot and I am finding concentration very difficult. In the past, I would have taken my book outside and read it in our gorgeous garden, with a pot of tea by my side. Since the stroke, however, I can’t read print books and the bright light bounces off my iPad, so I have to stay in my room. In addition, I seem to have developed a touch of agoraphobia and shy away from sitting outdoors. I lie in bed and look at the blue sky through the window and feel guilty, for some reason.

I wonder why that is?

Anyway, this is the book that I read this last week…

The Binding by Bridget Collins

The book was The Binding by Bridget Collins. Here is the blurb:

”Emmett Farmer is a binder’s apprentice. His job is to hand-craft beautiful books and, within each, to capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory.

If you have something you want to forget, or a secret to hide, he can bind it – and you will never have to remember the pain it caused.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and secrets – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of the volumes has his name on it.”

And this is my short review:

The BindingThe Binding by Bridget Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book about love and memories, which is, in my present circumstances, rather poignant. You see (to those who do not know me), I had a stroke some months ago and I am left with a significant impairment with my memory functions! My short-term memory is poor and I can quickly forget something that has happened only minutes ago. On the other hand, my long term memories are coming back to me in all of their bright colours. I find myself whistling tunes from my childhood.

So imagine a world where painful or inconvenient memories can be removed. What’s more, they are then written down in book form. Other people can, rarely, read them, but the original memories are erased, lost.

How would we function as individuals? How would society work? The book explores these kinds of questions from different viewpoints.

Well, I think it does…. I have now forgotten even reading it!

View all my reviews

I apologise for mentioning my stroke so often, but I hope you can understand what a profound impact even a mild version has had on my life. So much has been changed by my multiple conditions and the fall-out on my family has been very hard for them.

Right, I will stop feeling sorry for myself and think instead about all the wonderful books that I can enjoy! I am not sure which one I am going to choose next, although I have another one by Bridget Collins waiting in my queue. Perhaps something quite different would be a good idea?

Well, you can find out next week, if you are interested. Until then, Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 07/06/21: hunting for pretty nightwear

I now spend so much time in pyjamas. Most of my day involves sitting up in bed and even when I do feel well enough to go downstairs for a few hours, I am often too weak to get dressed properly. Over the colder months, I spent some money upgrading my pyjamas and then disposed of several badly worn and, to be honest, extremely frumpy tops and bottoms. Even though we have been married for over thirty years, I do think Lovely Husband deserves to see his wife looking a little nicer!

During warmer weather I usually wear old t-shirts and rather tatty underwear in bed. I had a little chat about this with LH and he encouraged me to treat myself to some new nightwear. So, I decided to hunt for some cool, attractive, comfortable and pretty items. LH even said that I could spend quite a lot!

My first port-of-call was Cyberjammies. They have a lovely selection on their site and you can also find their items on the John Lewis website. I chose these items…

Cami and shorts sets by Cyberjammies

They were both so pretty and arrived in a lovely package. Unfortunately, even size 16 was too small for me and I realised that the non-stretchy fabric wouldn’t work for me in this style.

So they had to be returned ☹️☹️☹️.

Then, I had a look at a different site: Toast. I have never bought anything from there before and I really liked several items – but the prices! Well, LH told me to go ahead and I ordered two items. I will show you one of them now…

Isn’t this lovely? The style is Marigold Block Print Cotton Nightie. The cobalt blue is gorgeous! Anyway, when I tried it on I quickly realised that, unlike my purchases above, this time the larger size was too big. So, I have sent it back for an exchange as I intend to wear this. In fact, as the material is quite thick, it is suitable to wear as a sun dress rather than in bed, so I think I will keep it for that!

I hope that the medium size arrives soon and that the other item I ordered does too.

After this, I still hadn’t managed to purchase anything to wear in bed, which was rather annoying. So I then had a look at the John Lewis offer. Phew, they had plenty of nightwear to look through and I found two items which actually fit me! Here they are…

Nightdresses by John Lewis

On the left we have the Wisteria Cotton Nightdress and on the right the Mia Palm Print Nightdress. The one on the right is a bit daring for me, but LH really likes it!!!

OK, that is enough for today. I may continue to look for more comfortable and pretty nightdresses and I will show them here if I find some more.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Outfits of the week 04/06/21

Younger Son has returned home so I will now get back to the usual pattern of posting on here. We had a lovely time and it was wonderful to see him again after 17 months. I managed to liven myself up a bit and we actually went out for a meal as a family. For the occasion, I wore my gorgeous blue Hermès Plumes en Fête 90cm scarf in a beautifully coordinated outfit (if I say so myself!!), but in all of the excitement I forgot to take photos. With the ensemble, I carried the white Massaccesi handbag that I bought recently – the white and blues looked lovely together.

The photos below are of the pretty handbag and a very similar outfit with the Plumes en Fête scarf:

Massaccesi’s Midi Modena in white pebbled leather.
Outfit of the day 20/03/20 with Hermès’ Plumes en Fète scarf

Here are the photos of some other looks from the week, in a slideshow format:

  • Au Coeur de la Vie by Aline Honoré for Hermès

The scarves in the slideshow are Au Coeur de la Vie (90cm) and Grand Manège Love silk bandana (70cm), both by Hermès.

Now that the weather has become so warm and humid, I am not sure if I will wear any of my expensive scarves until it cools down. It is time to change over to linen dresses, and trousers with t-shirts plus minimal jewellery. My new Massaccesi leather wrap bracelets will certainly be useful as well as beautiful:

Massaccesi Persian Green, Silver and Cobalt “Diamond” calf leather bracelets

Well, I think that’s all from me for the week. I now have to return to sorting out the house after The Visit – so much washing!

I do hope that you all have a great weekend.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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P.S. I am sorry if some of the proportions of these images look a bit strange. I am still struggling with this new WordPress editor! Any hints and tips would be very welcome.

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Reading roundup 02/06/21

Hello everyone, it’s good to be back posting on the blog! With all of the excitement in the house, Younger Son being home for the first time in ages, I didn’t get the chance to do any sustained reading. So, the books I am writing about today were read a fortnight or so ago.

The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden

I just had to choose my first book: The Gates of Athens (Athenian #01) by Conn Iggulden. Of course it is years since I studied Classical Greek History at University, but I do remember some of it and this book brought back some memories from my youth! Anyway, here is the blurb:

“490 B.C.

Two great empires are about to go to war . . .

The momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems will last for twenty-seven years (431 to 404 BC).

It will end in the fall of a dynasty.

Filled with cunning political scheming and astonishing military prowess, invasions and treacheries, plagues and slaughters, passion and power, Conn Iggulden brings to life one of the most thrilling chapters of the ancient world.”

This was such a detailed work that it took a while to finish the book! Here is my review as posted on Goodreads:

The Gates of AthensThe Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was very interesting for me, as a former student of this period in history, to read a fictionalised version. As I read, so many familiar names emerged and I found myself looking up a lot of the characters to remind myself of their stories. Because I already knew a lot of the historical background, I began to anticipate much of the action, both in terms of the battles, but also the political manoeuvring of the time. So, I feel that Iggulden did a pretty good job in bringing all of this to vivid life.

I particularly enjoyed his detailed descriptions of what a Greek warship might have been like to sail into a sea battle. The restrictions on the rowers in terms of space and how difficult it must have been to manoeuvre them, were depicted very well.

My one issue – and this will always happen with books about the Ancient Athenians – is how few female characters there are. Women’s lives were so restricted to the domestic sphere, that there are few known women to write about!

View all my reviews

This first book of the series finished at a very exciting place in the tale, so I am really looking forward to reading the second part. I hope that my library decides to purchase the ebook!

Devolution by Max Brooks

My second book was Devolution by Max Brooks. This is the blurb:

”As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined… until now. But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing – and too earth-shattering in its implications – to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the beasts behind it, once thought legendary but now known to be terrifyingly real.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us – and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.”

Brooks’ book, World War Z, is a favourite (BTW, the book is miles better than the film, in my opinion), so I was pleased when I saw this one on our ebook catalogue. Here is my response:

DevolutionDevolution by Max Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really excited when I saw that this book was available as I really rate World War Z. OK, it didn’t live up to the standard of the previous work, but I did find it an exciting and absorbing read.

The style of the writing was obviously meant to echo that used in World War Z, but was less successful when writing about a smaller number of characters and scenarios. The “green and sustainable” lifestyle sought by the characters was clearly intended to be idyllic and peaceful, but was also quite amusing: provisions brought by drones, for example. I did enjoy the development of the characters throughout the book: with some who previously appeared weak and self-absorbed becoming brave and resourceful and others becoming quite the opposite!

Anyway, it all served to remind me to make sure I am fully provisioned at all times just in case we have either a Zombie Apocalypse or an attack by a family of Yetis…

… or, of course, a world-wide pandemic!

View all my reviews

I have a few book waiting in line for me to read, but I cannot yet decide which one to choose. All will become clear in next week’s Reading Roundup post.

Until then: Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 31/05/21

Hi all! Still having a lovely time with Younger Son visiting. He goes back tomorrow, so I will post the usual Reading Roundup post on Wednesday.

See you then!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Update 24/05/21 – taking a break

Whoop! We have just had some great news: after 17 months apart…

Younger Son is coming home!

I am so excited. I have missed him so much. Anyway, I am going to take a break from writing the blog during the time he is here.

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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Outfits of the week 21/05/21

At last, I am able to write about my haircut, which I had over a week ago! I have been struggling this week, in various ways, but I will not go into details as I really don’t want to moan. So, here are the before and after photos…

Left: before, right: after!

I eventually decided on quite a drastic change! I was tired of managing longer hair and just wanted to get it all out of the way, so I asked the hairdresser for a much shorter cut and to dry it without using curling tongs. It’s a bit strange that my hair only seems to curl at the front when it is longer.

For the trip to the hair salon, I wore a Lands’ End cotton mix top in purple, dark navy jeans and the lovely Hermès’ scarf L’Arbre du Vent in blue, fuchsia and turquoise, tied in a simple bias fold held by my MaiTai purple scarf ring. I also carried my new purple handbag from Massaccesi.

Early this week, I managed to wear another nice outfit based around purples after I had washed my hair for the first time since the cut. Here it is:

Outfit of the day 17/05/21

As you can see, the details of the outfit are the same as above, but the scarf was Hermès’ Dans Un Jardin Anglais and I wore the Sainsbury’s Tu silver butterfly earrings given to me by Elder Son.

Next week, I should have some new nightwear to show you. As I wear it so much, a lot of my collection has been giving up the ghost and so I needed to replace quite a lot. 

Wishing you all a very happy weekend!

Love and best wishes,

Anne

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