bookmarks and books

A thank you to Flo who remembered me on her travels, including to San Francisco,  and picked up some bookmarks to send my way.

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And a couple of book titles to share with you today too.  I always like to read a couple of chapters just before bedtime, with my mug of hot chocolate . . . in recent months I had simply been re-reading old classics from my book shelves.  Then I got somewhat bored, so bought a couple of paperbacks, and renewed my subs at our local library.

One of the paperbacks I bought:

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“Catch Me” by Lisa Gardner.  A nice thriller/suspense, which is my favourite kind of bedtime read.  Here’s a quick résumé:  What would you do if you knew the exact date and time of your death?  For Charlie Grant, this will be on 21st January at 8pm . . . in 4 days time.  Exactly like her two best friends.  And Charlie wants Inspector DD Warren of the Boston Police to be in charge of the investigation.  Already tied up with a pedophile murder case, DD accepts, but as soon as she starts looking into the young woman’s past, her gut instinct tells her that Charlie is hiding something.  

And from the library

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“You’re Mine Now” – Hans Koppel.  Original title : “Kom ska vi tycka om varandra”

This was on the “thriller/crime” shelf, and was a good read but a different style of writing.   The main character is Anna, and the story-line . . . Anna should never have slept with Erik.  Anna is happily married to Magnus, they have a daughter, and Anna soon begins to regret her brief fling.  Erik is a dangerous psychopath and, before she knows it, not only is she being stalked, but her family is in danger.

bargain books

Our local library was selling off some of its old books the other day, to make room on the shelves for some newer ones.  It’s a very small library, but, since there is only a population of approx 1500 (and that’s grouping three villages together, which make up the “commune”), I think we are quite privileged to have a library at all.

I have been reading more and more on my tablet of late, but I do still like reading a REAL book . . . so I went along with an empty tote bag and some coins, to have a rummage.

Came home with

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The trilogy “Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson.  I’m not really sure if this is going to be my cup of tea but I’ll give the first one a try.  If I don’t like them, I’ll pass on to my brother-in-law as I’m sure this will be right up his street.

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And four others:  “Lily White” by Susan Issacs; “The Sunbird” by Wilbur Smith; “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle and “Parce que je t’aime” by Musso. 

Ladies at the library commented on how I’d chosen mainly anglo-saxon authors ^^  I’d never really thought about it before.  I suppose there must be something about the Anglo-saxon style of writing that appeals to me more.  I usually prefer to read books in the original language, because translations are not always great.  However, my French is 100% fluent, so reading in French isn’t a problem and, of course, the local library doesn’t have an English section so I make do with what I can find.

Anyway, I’ve begun reading “Lily White” and it’s very promising.  Lots of reading material to keep me amused when it gets too hot to stitch over the summer.  And for 1€ per book they were a bargain.

“The Analyst”–John Katzenbach

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Happy fifty third birthday, Doctor. Welcome to the first day of your death.  When he receives this mysterious threatening letter, the previously quiet existence of Dr Starks turns into chaos.  This successful New York pychoanalyst finds himself suddenly forced to play a morbid game designed by a man who calls himself Rumplestiltskin. The rules are simple.  Starks has 2 weeks in which to discover Rumplestiltskin’s identity and the reason for his hatred.  If he succeeds, he will not be harmed.  But if he fails, Rumplestiltskin will destroy one of Stark’s 52 family members unless  Starks agrees to kill himself.” 

*  *  *  *  * 

Photo of the French translation, because that’s the copy I read, but “The Analyst” is a thriller by American author John Katzenbach.  And oh my!  Definitely a page-turner ^^

It’s not a gory, blood and guts type of thriller . . . it’s a pyschological thriller full of twists and turns that literally gripped me from page one, right up until the end.  Put a whole new slant on all the social networks, and how easy it is to research on the internet!    I take my hat off to Mr Katzenbach. 

colour, cordials and kittens

I was catching up on some blog-reading the other day, as you do . . . and came across a video link on Lynda’s blog, Life on the Farmlet, that had me fascinated, and soon saw me searching for more videos.  Videos on Kaffe Fassett.

Crafters will know the name, and I expect many of us have some of his creations in our craftings drawers, since he is so famous.  I was fascinated to hear him talk about how he got into all the different crafts, and immediately shot across to amazon and bought a copy of his autobiography

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I’ve only flicked through so far, but oh my!  This is going to be my bedtime book.  I actually wonder why they’ve put a dust cover on this book, because look what’s underneath

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And just one glimpse inside

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So much colour . . . just what a girl needs on a drizzly autumn day.

Speaking of colours . . . I was doing my weekly food shop and came across some interesting flavours of cordial.

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Blackberry, violet and cherry ^^  Made in France, in the Franche Comté region, and what delicious coridals they are!  I particularly like the violet cordial which really does smell and taste like violets.

And last photo to show you how the kittens are growing.

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Abby on the left, and Ducky on the right. You can’t tell from the photo but Ducky is a good kilo heavier than Abby now.  I’ve given up weighing him because my kitchen scales only weigh up to 3 kilos, and he hit the 3 kilo mark a few weeks ago already!  Not quite 5 months old yet, but both are starting to lose their kittenish looks and ressemble real adult cats ^^ 

“Fly in the Ointment”–Anne Fine

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Resumé from back cover:

Guilt is in the eye of the beholder . . .

When her cold and indifferent husband vanishes, so does Lois’s old life.  Now she is ready to take her chances again.  There’s only one fly in the ointment: Janie-Gay, ex-partner of the son Lois lost to drugs, and spiteful mother of the small, neglected child she can’t get out of her mind.

Caring’s not something one can lay aside, and Lois is soon tangled in a web of deceit.  Worse, she is on a collision course with a remorseless society that claims to support and protect.  Now, more than ever, she could use the skills of her once frozen heart . . .

* * * * * * *

I must have read this novel at least half a dozen times, and each time I do it captivates me.  I think if I was in Lois’s shoes, I’d be tempted to do exactly the same thing ^^  A brilliant book.  One to have on your book shelf and read over and over again.

this, that, fried eggs, and pinwheels

I seem to be walking around these days with my camera in one pocket and an egg in the other lol.  After the more edible things I showed you yesterday . . . something purely ornamental

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This (I think) is a Japanese  tree. I do know we’ve had it quite a few years, it lives in a large plant pot, and it came with us when we moved from the previous house. I do also know that it doesn’t produce fruit, just the most delicate blossom.  And look at those blue skies behind!  Who’d have thought we’re only in April?

Now for that . . .

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Before I embark on any new adventure, I like to document myself first.  This is why I invested in several books on the subject of hens.  The one in English, by Suzie Baldwin is excellent.  Very well-written, informative and with loads of lovely photos.  I have learned that it takes around 24-26 hours for a hen to “make” an egg.  From the formation, the making of the shell using the calcium supply she found in her food, and the actual laying it takes a healthy hen approximately one day.  Obviously, not all hens lay one egg a day, and when they do, they don’t do it 365 days of the year (imagine what a lot of work that would be!).  They generally take a rest several times a year and it’s only those in their prime that can keep up the (almost) one egg a day pace, and then only for a year – by which time they are called “spent hens”.

Now I found this very interesting because our three girls have started off really really well.  It means the eggs they began laying on Friday were “made” here!  So that means they’re happy and getting the right food. Miranda and Miss Marple win a gold star because they both laid an egg a day, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Miss Moneypenny decided Tuesday was a rest day.  So three hens, and 8 eggs in only 3 days.  I am impressed.

Another interesting thing (or at least I thought it was fascinating lol) . . . I fried two eggs for lunch yesterday (a Miranda egg and a Miss Moneypenny egg). I was expecting yolks to be the same colour, since my books say yolk colour depends on diet, and my girls are on the same diet.

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But yolks are not the same yellow ^^  Also, what I found interesting was how the “white”  (I like mine still slightly runny on top, you’ll notice) actually kept its shape (well almost) during cooking.  I guess that’s because they were mega-fresh?  With shop-bought eggs, the white just seems to run all over the pan before it starts to set.

Anyway, these were yummy on hot buttered toast.  They both tasted the same, and although there was almost a 10g difference in egg weight, I couldn’t honestly see much of a difference once cooked.

And, now for some pinwheels . . . (mustn’t forget the crafting, eh?)

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I have finished my sashing and added a 2” band around the edge to give myself something to grab on to while quilting. In this photo, my top is draped over a cushion to give you an idea of what it will look like when finished.  It could be a while though before I show you the finished cushion cover.  Quilting is the part I dread the most, so I’ll be procrastinating and probably starting other projects before this one gets finished.

“Fablehaven” – Brandon Mull

I’ve just turned the last page of the fifth novel of the “FABLEHAVEN” fantasy series by Brandon Mull. These books are really aimed at young teenagers, but I’m still young at heart, and I enjoyed every single one of them.

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Here’s the extract from the back cover of book 1.

“For centuries, mystical creatures were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction.  The sanctuary is one of the last strongholds of true magic.  Enchanting?  Absolutely.  Exciting?  You bet.  Safe?  Well, actually, quite the opposite . . . Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven.  Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep order among greedy trolls, michievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies.  However, when the rules get broken, powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother must face the greatest challenge of their lives to save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world”.

 

I am an avid reader, and especially enjoy fantasy fiction. These novels are mainly aimed at teenagers, but, despite my 49 years, I thoroughly enjoyed them. Brandon Mull has created a world where everything seems so real . . . and above all, he creates a strong link between the reader and our human heroes: Kendra and Seth. I think what I enjoyed the most was the decision making . . . throughout the series of five novels, the brother and sister team have to make some very adult decisions and, the reader is sometimes fraught with dismay at some of the decisions made but keeps on reading because he just has to know what the outcome will be.  Will things work out this time? or will they land up in an even bigger mess than before?

Another thing I really appreciated – at the end of each book, the author has written some thought-provoking questions for the reader to think about, along the lines of “What would YOU have done?” If both parents and children read these books together, I think it could bring some very lively conversations to the dinner table, concerning why we, the parents, set rules for our kids to follow . . . how important it is to face up to your responsibilities etc.

 

So I’m going to give Brandon Mull five stars for this set of five books. I bought mine as a box set on amazon but they are available individually as well. If you want to check them out, the books are (in order) Book 1 – FABLEHAVEN; Book 2 – RISE OF THE EVENING STAR; Book 3 – GRIP OF THE SHADOW PLAGUE; Book 4 – SECRETS OF THE DRAGON SANCTUARY and Book 5 – KEYS TO THE DEMON PRISON.

 

And, because I like the thought-provoking side to these novels . . . here is a little quote from Book 5  (I won’t say by whom, as I don’t want to give anything away) : “Making mistakes is part of learning to choose well.  No way around it.  Choices are thrust upon us, and we don’t always get things right.  Even postponing or avoiding a decision can become a choice that carries heavy consquences.  Mistakes can be painful – sometimes they cause irrevocable harm – but welcome to Earth.  Poor choices are part of growing up, and part of life.  You will make bad choices, and will be affected by the poor choices of others.  We must rise above such things.”