Cross Stitch · Witterings

Lavender Bag

There is nothing better then lavender to brighten up the garden, the day and even send you to sleep at night. I love the colour and the smell. As you walk past and brush gently against it, an aroma takes over.

Now sadly this is not my lavender or my mum’s come to that, but she has many large bushes in the garden and the result of this is copious amounts of lavender. So what do you do with it, once it is dry?

You have to stitch a lavender bag to put some of it in –

This was one of my WIP, over a week or so here. So in my finishing everything I have started mode, I did just that and made up this bag which is now full of lavender. I think the picture makes it look bigger than it really is. It is glasses case size, and currently is on the bed, but perhaps it should be relegated to the underwear drawer considering the design!


Borderlands – Brian McGilloway

This is the first Inspector Devlin book, which the author Brian McGilloway is going to make into a series of books. Therefore you could be forgiven in thinking that all this book will do is set the scene and introduce us to the characters. It does all that and more – it gives us a storyline so gripping that the book can be finished in one sitting easily.

Inspector Benedict ‘Ben’ Devlin works in the south but very near the border with the north. Where am I talking about, well Ireland. Any prior knowledge the reader brings to this book, about the troubles between north and south and all the politics which accompany it, are not wasted, it just gives the book a bit more of a grounding.

Devlin whilst trying to juggle family life in the few days before Christmas is trying to piece together the murder of local girl, Angela Cashell. Her body found on the border leaves little clues, not even clothes only an old ring and a photograph.  Her father is known to the police and many theories revolve about how he is implicated. When another youngster is murdered, leaving another clue of a photograph – whoever is in the photograph must know something.

But the photograph is twenty five years old and when Devlin and his colleagues discover who it is in the photograph then begin to unearth connections back to one of their own colleagues, but with new faces at the Garda station in recent months, which one of them is it.

McGilloway has created suspense and mystery, and uses the weather to set the scene for many confrontations, and place the deaths and the investigation in a rather dark place, while the snow and the whiteness of it is the contrast. Battling the weather at every turn, Devlin is being warned off by someone and their exacting revenge but when it starts to affect his young family he needs to solve these murders and the mystery of the photograph very quickly.

An excellent debut novel, and for someone who likes crime, detectives and an interesting setting then you will not go far wrong with this book, and the subsequent ones.  Very much current, and only thing I would watch out for is the amount of characters, it makes it one of those books where you need to concentrate to ensure you know who is who and what side of the border they work on.  Other than that – excellent.

I have read his fourth book The Rising under the Amazon Vine programme, and decided that I wanted to make sure I read the others. I was therefore wary about the review here (also published on Amazon) as although it was the first Inspector Devlin book, it was not the first book I read of McGilloway’s. Hopefully my review reflects this.

Books · Cross Stitch · Witterings

An Update of Books and Crafts

I decided to do a summary post of what I have been up to in regards to books and crafts.


Recent reviews I have already published them on my blog. Here are the links

Kate Atkinson – Started Early, Took My Dog

Jane Beaton – Rules

Debbie Macomber – 204 Rosewood Lane

Upcoming Review on Brian McGilloway – Borderlands


Acquired 2 booksLesley Pearce – Stolen & Douglas Kennedy – Leaving the World. Both new authors to me so I will see how I get on with these two.

Amazon Vine – 2 BooksAnne Fortier – Juliet and a non fiction book Mindfulness for Dummies. This is an area which I have an interest in so thought this would be a good start to get into something.

Waterstones Visit – 13 Books! eek!

Alexander McCall Smith – The Miracle at Speedy Motors Book 9 in the No 1 Ladies Detective Series

Alexander McCall Smith – Tea Time for the Traditionally Built Book 10

Kate Kerrigan – Ellis Island Recommended by one of the Waterstone’s staff

Brenda Reid – The House of Dust and Dreams From the blurb and look of the book, it probably will have a similar feel to Victoria Hislop’s The Island

Lesley Lokko – Bitter Chocolate Three Girls trying to find the missing piece in their lives. Based in Haiti, America and London. Daft though it sounds, a good thick book to get lost in!

Kate Atkinson – Case Histories The first Jackson Brodie book.

Victoria Henry – The Beach Hut Another new author of the ‘chick lit’ variety I believe.

Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat Pray Love This has been made into a film with Julia Roberts, and I read about it in a magazine interview with the actress. Perhaps then I might go and see the film.

Mary Nichols – The Fountain I was actually after The Summer House but this was on a 3 for 2 and they did not have The Summer House

Daphne Du Maurier – Jamaica Inn Rebecca is one of my favourites, and encouraged by my mum I would like to read some more by this author.

Katharine McMahon – The Rose of Sebastopol Having loved The Crimson Rooms, I wanted to try another one by this author.

Philippa Gregory – The White Queen Fancied a bit of historical fiction and you cannot beat PG! I thought I better start with the beginning of her next series.

Katherine Webb – The Legacy A past and present story based with two girls and a house that connects them.

Now I cannot say I will not buy any more books for a while, because you never know. But this will be my last big haul before Christmas that is for sure!


I have had a few finishes this week, so this is what I am showing, as opposed to my works in progress. No point taking pictures of something that have not changed since the last picture!

This is a Sue Hawkins Biscornu, done in canvaswork using perle thread No 5 two different colours, and I alternated them as you can hopefully can see by the first picture, which I took before making the biscornu up which is then shown in the second picture below. Not the easiest things to photograph I suppose. I hope this gives you an idea at least.

This is Waxing Moon’s Simply Seasons Spring.

I am currently working on Simply Summer. Always trying to find different ways to make up stitching, I decided to make it into a pinkeep. Which is a popular way of finishing. I am now after getting some hooks or the like so I can hang this on a door, and then change it when the seasons change. It does stand up independently as the pins make quite good little feet.  I will try and finish Simply Summer before it is over, although with the weather and temperatures here at the moment it may already be over!

Books · Witterings

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

I thought I would have a go at this meme this week. As this blog is new, I thought I should gain a bit of exposure.

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?

At the moment I do not use a rating system on my blog. However, all my reviews are posted on to Amazon and they have a rating system which I use in relation to as well. A 5 star system. 5 stars being great, 1 star being really bad. I think it is a fair system although I wish I could give 1/2 stars as sometimes a book is sat somewhere between a 3 star and a 4 star and I am always stuck with which way I should go and I know I go the generous route and select 4 stars. I am not sure whether to have a rating system or not on my blog, perhaps in the future?


Started Early, Took My Dog – Kate Atkinson

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recently read Emotionally Weird by the author and was slightly put off by reading anything else. I am glad I did not base all of her work solely on that book, I enjoyed When Will be There be Good News and decided to venture back into life with Jackson Brodie. I was unsure of his character in that book, but now this book has filled much more of the back story and I have grown to love such a character who seems to operate outside of everything not just the law.

Jackson is going on a tour of the country, in main to catch up with his second wife who tricked him and he fell for it. Pride is an issue for Jackson. Also he is reliving some of his past, and through the Yorkshire countryside, visiting places he had been in his childhood he starts to understand the importance of his future that lies with the children he has fathered. His narrative takes us through his past and what he is currently working on – a case of finding Hope McMaster’s real birth mother, but everywhere he goes someone has been before him and there is also some on his tail. How come he is not always first? And why did he make a rash decision and take on something that was not his, when he can barely look after himself.

The narrative of Tracey Waterhouse is alongside Jackson’s as an ex WPC at the time of a murder which dropped off the radar in the mid seventies when all focus was on catching the Yorkshire Ripper. A theme covered with detail by Kate Atkinson that you knew she had researched the subject enough to make it relevant to the time of the flashbacks without it taking focus off the actual murder that Tracey Waterhouse witnessed the aftermath of. Tracey now retired and working as a security guard in a shopping centre also makes a rash decision. And as her past comes back to her and the seemingly solved murder in the seventies seems more relevant, she goes on the run. Did she really know anything?

Tracey’s rash decision is witnessed by Tilly an aging actress who is obviously caught up in the beginnings of dementia. Tilly sees but does not understand what Tracey has done, if anything wrong at all. But then Tilly is linked to them all in some way and we see her unravel as Jackson tries to bring all the pieces of thread together.

Atkinson uses the skill of three strong characters to tell the story not just in the present but in the past as well. The past for all of them. The other characters which also intertwine so seamlessly are all relevant and the passages set in the Seventies, have a Gene Hunt, Sweeney edge to them, especially with the comradeship and workings of the police force. The author does not miss the opportunity to mention these modern day images within the context of the story line.

I confess it takes me a while to get into Atkinson’s books and I stick with it because once I am in the story I just need to keep turning the page to find out how it all comes together. This book was no different, but it did not take me long to become captured by the plot line as it effectively went from the Seventies back to the present day picking up and dropping people as it needed them. What surprised me was the humour within the book; it is there and if like me you were captured, the humour just bounced off the page and me laugh. It kept the story real especially and reminded me despite the outcome of the murder, the police and their colleagues the social workers and even the people they deal with, in this book namely a number of prostitutes have their own way of dealing with events and emotions.

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader. The result is not always what we want and perhaps in reflection, I could have wanted more from this story – a neat wrapping up of all the unravel threads. Not so, because life is not like that and Atkinson does a very good job of making us the reader  think whether the result she writes about is the right one legally or perhaps morally.


Rules – Jane Beaton

Rules is the second book by Jane Beaton which favours a theme found to be loved by many – boarding school. There are relatively few boarding school stories for adults, but hopefully this will be a series that becomes so. This is what I anticipate anyway.

Maggie Adair for those who did not read Class, is a teacher of English and starts her second year at Downey House, a private boarding school for girls set at the coast in Cornwall. She is determined to make this a better year for herself and also her pupils, but life has a habit of getting in the way of Maggie’s plans.

Now engaged to Stan, who stays in Glasgow. Maggie suddenly realises there is more to life than nights spent drinking in the pub and returning for an unsatisfied drunken fumble. Maggie’s eyes have been opened by David, fellow English teacher at the neighbouring Downey School for Boys. But for some reason she keeps clinging on to Stan. However why is the enthusiasm for her wedding not there? It is merely being organised around her. Beaton creates a situation which made me as a reader scream at Maggie “Stan is no good for you”; “David will give you so much more”. Although David appears weak around his ex fiancé, he has many attributes which Maggie relates even more so since she became a teacher at Downey House. A skill of a good writer to keep her audience guessing and wanting more!

However, it is just not us as readers who are aware of the frisson between Maggie and David. Maggie’s girls are also aware and there is plenty of teenage angst amongst them all. They hold on to what they know and use it at the right opportunity when being a teenager is not fair amongst the punishment given by Maggie.

Fliss has fallen for Will a local lad to her at home, now resident at the boy’s school. Will only has eyes for Alice, Fliss’ friend. So Fliss buoyed by watching new girl Zelda take Fliss’ other friend Simone under her wing and transform her. Fliss undergoes her own makeover with disastrous results. Why didn’t Maggie spot this happening to her own girls, her responsibility earlier? Maggie’s faith in her ability is tested as she deals with the aftermath. Perhaps Maggie should go back to Glasgow, become a wife and mother and fit the stereotype that she seems desperate not to be.

A successful end of academic year for Maggie’s pupils and perhaps a successful year personally as the train draws out of Truro station taking Maggie to her new future or her old past?

I would recommend this book for the older teen/young adult readership – a book to move forward reading from Enid Blyton school tales. Something had it been available when I was that age I would have read and enjoyed, a transition to adult fiction, albeit for some reason stuck in the “chick-lit” genre. A good second novel, but with plenty of room for improvement providing the dedication is there by the author to continue.


204 Rosewood Lane – Debbie Macomber

This is the second book in Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cover Series. The characters we were introduced to in 16 Lighthouse Road are back.

The local judge, Olivia Lockhart, her daughter Justine and her new husband Seth are back, with new challenges to face both personally and professionally.

Grace resident of 204 Rosewood Lane is still smarting after the disappearance of her husband Dan Sherman. The divorce finalised everything practically for her but not emotionally. Will the discovery about what really happened give her that closure? Her daughter Kelly a new mum cannot believe anything has happened and everything will go back to the way it was. However Maryellen, Grace other daughter, has hidden so much about her past that perhaps she understands? The future takes an unexpected turn for her when Jon Bowman comes into her life.

Here we are also introduced to new characters, Rosie and Zach Cox, whose story is picked up more thoroughly in 311 Pelican Court (the first Cedar Cover story I read). WE see how they fit into Cedar Cove and the life of the community especially when they are faced with Judge Lockhart’s rather unorthodox judgement.

Having read book three and then worked backwards. I can see Macomber building the place of Cedar Cove with all its residents and how all their lives do intertwine either through marriage, long lasting friendship or at the Pancake Palace. The beauty of these books a current guilty pleasure of mine is that you can pick the book up mid series and still get a feel for what is going on without having read earlier books. Macomber goes over the back story well without just reiterating previous novels which some authors have a tendency to do when there is little substance to follow up novels or in a series of books.

My only other guilt of reading them, and I have mentioned this before in my reviews, is I do skim read in parts because I realise the way the book is heading in some but not all cases. A bit like having a television programme on in the background and still being able to keep up with the story line. I chastise myself regularly of this habit. As I knows I do not know it for the many many other books I read. It will not stop me through carrying on reading the Cedar Cove series.

Despite this, I invite anyone who wants pure escapism to settle down with this series of books, and just enjoy!


Amazon Vine

What is Amazon Vine™?

Amazon Vine™ is a programme that enables a select group of Amazon customers to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make educated purchase decisions. Customers are invited to become Amazon Vine™ Voices based on the trust they have earned in the Amazon community for writing accurate and insightful reviews. Amazon provides Amazon Vine™ members with free copies of products that have been submitted to the program by vendors. Amazon does not influence the opinions of Amazon Vine™ members, nor do we modify or edit their reviews.

I am lucky enough to be a member of Amazon Vine, and the books marked with a (V) on my book list found at the top of the page, tell you which books I have read under this programme.

I have had some non fiction books as well; mainly reference type, Christmas stocking filler type books – these are not up on my ‘Read’ lists but can be found under my profile on the Amazon site.

Today is Amazon Vine day – and is the day when the whole list from the current and previous newsletters comes out which should mean there is a slightly bigger selection to choose from. The newsletter last week was a small selection and there was nothing there that grabbed me so let us see what today brings. Until 2000……..


Booking Through Thursday

If you’re not enjoying a book, will you stop mid-way? Or do you push through to the end? What makes you decide to stop?

Short answer is yes, sometimes and all sorts of things!

Long answer is sometimes yes I do persevere because I feel cheated especially when I have bought the book and the first couple of pages I would have read in the bookshop seemed so promising. An example of this was The Keep by Jennifer Egan – I pushed through but really wish I hadn’t.

Then I did stop reading Burley Cross Post Box Theft by Nicola Barker. I tried and tried but it really did nothing for me and I had to admit defeat – I was not enjoying the book and reading to me should be pure enjoyment even if a little challenging not pure torture. Ironically I got lambasted for not completing it because it was given to me free and therefore someone suggested that I should have finished it and I did not know what I was missing, this made me even less likely to pick the book back up and try again.

Why stop, normally because the characters are weak and do not jump off the page into my imagination or the writing is just bad and makes no sense to the plotline. It can be anything and differs from book to book.


The Crimson Rooms – Katharine McMahon

This is the story of Evelyn Gifford who has begun to forge a career in law. Nothing strange about this perhaps, but it is 1924. The country is still suffering from the effects of the Great War and women are not highly regarded in any profession despite the ministrations of the suffragettes.  However, Evelyn would not be in the position she is now if it was not for that war; taking her brother.

The book deals with two legal cases that of Stephen Wheeler arrested for the murder of his wife Stella less than a month into their marriage. Everything points to him having committed the crime but Evelyn and her male superiors at Breen and Balcombe have difficulty in getting the truth from Wheeler – who is he protecting and why?

The second case was common for the time and dealt with a mother trying to get her children back from the home, where in financial desperation Lech Marchant left them for their own good. Not understanding the law, Leah thinks she can claim them back at any time. It is this action which introduces her to Evelyn. A common case for female advocates to be assigned during their early rise in the law. However Leah trusts only Breen and perhaps she is correct to do so when Evelyn lets heart rule and puts the possibility of getting the children back in jeopardy.

Katharine McMahon has cleverly weaved all of this amongst Evelyn’s family life. The private and professional sides of Evelyn Gifford become confused and then perhaps help in discovering the truth to help the cases she is working on. In the process Evelyn discovers much more about herself.

Evelyn’s brother James was held in high regard by his family. McMahon makes emphasis on the fact that all sons were, and that they were the ones who were going to carry family name, tradition and honour into the workplace for many years to come. The Great War brought a stop to many families pursuing such an option. Now women were gaining respect as people in their own right and perhaps they instead of marrying a nice chap with good prospects and settling down to married life, babies’ et al. They could perhaps carry on family tradition into the workplace.

Evelyn’s picture of her brother is shattered piece by piece when Meredith and a young boy, Edmund turn up at the house with more than intimate knowledge of James. Life changes beyond all doubt as Evelyn discovers love of many different kinds, brought by Meredith into the whole household’s life. Evelyn’s mother denying any wrongdoing by her favourite and only son despite knowing something Evelyn does not. Evelyn’s grandmother suddenly finds someone in the present to talk about ands share the past with. And Prudence, her aunt who has set ideas and ways on how everyone should behave both young and old even finds herself warming to these new arrivals.

There is much that could be said about this wonderful novel. The characters all have their place, the wild eccentricities of Evelyn’s family as well as Wolfe the partner of Breen at Breen and Balcombe. Even Miss Drake, the secretary who believes what women have their place in society and that place is not as a legal advocate. Prejudice was to be found everywhere, McMahon handles this with skill and clarity for us as readers, actually to feel the anger the hurt and the determination by Evelyn.

Colour is throughout the novel. The portrayal of Evelyn’s home is one of bleakness, all shades of grey handled and described so effectively, that whenever Evelyn arrives home you can see picture everything so clearly grey. The arrival of Meredith brings colour to the house in more than her presence. Even in her descriptions of her dresses are there to show the stark contrast between her and Evelyn. The murder scene is described in glorious colour, as is the thoughts of the war and the image of the trenches, the mud and the wounds on innocent men.
A thrilling read, which kept the page turning as its atmosphere was deep and interesting as the story pitched you from murder scene to dinner table, to walking through Hyde Park. I would highly recommend this book as it has so much to offer; a love story, a war story, a legal history and a story of dreams, emotions, the future and discovery.

I have discovered an author who I have not read before and now I am off to discover her other books as well.