Books

Key Lime Pie Murder – Joanne Fluke

I am back with Hannah Swensen, in Lake Eden and the beauty of reading a book in a series is that you can catch up on all the characters. There is something familiar about them all and you like to take a peek at their lives.

This time round, Hannah has been called to judge a baking competition at the local country fair. Of course this means that we get to hear about even more delicious recipes besides Hannah’s cookie ones. Although Hannah knows one of the judges she has only just met Willa the other judge. There seems something mysterious about her. Hannah likes a good mystery however this turns into a murder mystery when Willa is found dead at the county fair ground by, yes of course, by Hannah.

Hannah’s mother despises the ability she has in finding dead bodies. But she is also most keen on finding out all the gossip as well. In such a small town, everyone knows everyone else’s business and it is that which helps Hannah solves nearly all her mysteries.

Of course Mike, the local sheriff does not want Hannah involved as it puts her in danger and he does not like that, especially as he still has his heart set on her. But then so does Norman, who seems to be winning favour with Moshie, Hannah’s rather changeable cat. But who will eventually get her heart. Who knows and now at book nine, I wonder whether this particular story line is wearing a bit thin. All the other characters are happily getting on with their lives, there are developments, there is progress as well as heart ache and setbacks, but for Hannah it all seems to be standing still for her.

However, the only thing that does move is Hannah in the right direction and finds out who claimed the life of Willa so cruelly. This is a cosy crime book which does well to incorporate the aspects of small community life where everything seemed all that much nicer – obviously apart from the murders!

Great escapist easy reading. But worth reading in order to really understand Hannah and the recurring characters in the books.

I was on a bit of a binge reading of Hannah Swensen mysteries. It was all my brain could cope with. I actually had to stop myself moving onto book ten, because there are many many other books calling out to me to be read. But I could just sneak and read it on my kindle….. nobody would know…..

Crafts · Cross Stitch · Jottings · Knitting

Unravelling….

It is a yearly outing in October that mum and I head to the Knitting and Stitching Show held at Alexandra Palace. I have mentioned many times on this blog and looking back it is almost like Groundhog Day.

2010 Visit

2011 Visit

2012 Visit

I won’t bore you with the same old details – but rest assured there were some very familiar noises on the coach. The two ladies adjacent to us, commented on every bit of driving, direction of travel, journey, the M25 and gave the poor coach driver earache no doubt. These coach drivers at the particular company we use have the patience of saints. They did come unstuck at one point when they were asking him personal questions and he said he did not see his children anymore…..silent did ensure….but no for long. Their main complaint was that there was not enough cross stitching.

Well to be fair to them, they were correct. However, everything has fads and is cyclical I am sure and therefore if you know that is the case then don’t bother coming if only to save my ears! In the years that I have been going I have seen it decline, and it is definitely knitting and other wool related crafts which are coming back in fashion. One particular stall used to be huge, as they sold so much cross stitch material, both aida and evenweave. Now though you could have walked past them and not noticed, it was that small and also they had branched out into selling other things. The lesson is if you want to stay in business then you have to go with the changes and what the market wants. The market wants at the moment, wool and material.

I will say there was a plethora of sewing machine stalls, nicely complemented by where you could by plenty of material and some wonderful material at that. I blame the Great British Sewing Bee and in fact one contestant (male) was there from that programme. I am sure this has something to do with the current economic climate and in trying to make do and mend, or create something which is unique.

Creatures of habit we did exactly the same thing we do every year, go round the outside then up and down the stalls in the middle and then split up buy what we want and then meet back together and get a second opinion on some of the things we have seen.

I know all you want to see is what I have bought, so here is the obligatory photo

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So what do we have –

To the left of the picture there are some weaving boards. You wind the wool round the jagged edges then you weave with something contrasting. I have made an attempt but I want to get it right first, as one of them is going to be a Christmas present. There is also some lovely Oliver Twist threads there too.

Then following across the picture is a pin cushion from Sue Hawkins who has been a favourite of mine (and mum) for many years. It is thanks to here I have made oodles of the bookmarkers she does that have been sold and also given out as presents for many years. I have got many of her items over the years, and this is another one to add to the collection, which was bought for an early birthday present.

Then it is a plethora of felt. Two bundles of different felt sizes in different colours. Felt Fantastic is a book I have had my eye on for a while as it comes from the lovely people at Blooming Felt. There is also some felt bird shapes, a bag of felt balls and a felt iPad cover.Not sure if you can see the little black dog at the bottom right of the picture – he is a Scottie dog. He could look good on my  cover although not to be mistaken for a Radley I am sure. I need to get on the website and buy some more stuff with the 15% voucher I got at the show too! I need to buy some more red circles to make poppies with. I like the felt things, although I am not interested in needle felting or sticking my knitting in the wash to felt that up.

Not bad considering, but what I have come away with is oodles of ideas and an itch to want to try them all. Always the way, but in the meantime I will keep plodding along. I have some items that need finishing and I must crack on with the Christmas presents for this year to.

I did make a list of things to look up at home, one particular stall there sells all the wonderful Lizzie Kate, Waxing Moon Designs, Twisted Thread, Pine Mountain designs as well as many other American designers. Trouble is they are priced quite expensively and the two ladies that run the stall are very snooty – they always look down their noses at you and it puts me right off! They are a bit pushy in their sales technique. It is funny what puts you off buying from different places.

I wonder if the show in 2014 will be exactly the same? Of course it will.

Books

Cherry Cheesecake Murder – Joanne Fluke

Hannah is back in Lake Eden at The Cookie Jar and when we last left her she had to make a decision between the dentist, Norman and the sheriff, Mike. Which one is she going to choose and will it be the right one, and what will happen to the man who is turned down?

Nothing, because somehow as sweet as the cookies that she makes she agrees to both and neither all at the same time. Quite an achievement. And just when she thinks everything is back on an even keel, another admirer pops into town.

A film crew is in town and the man helping it all happen is an old friend of Hannah’s. Everyone is excited, everyone is going to get to be in the film and Hannah finds herself with the task of making cherry cheesecake to placate the rather irate and cantankerous director every day. Apparently the right cheesecake will make everyone’s lives easier.

But if you know Hannah, then a body is not far away, and in fact she is not on her own when it is discovered as there is a whole room full of people who witness the death.

Was it suicide, it an accident or was it deliberate? Only one way to find out is to leave it to Mike the sheriff of course. Well that’s what Hannah tells him, in the meantime she uses her baked goods to gain further information.

And so as all things that happen in Lake Eden, we are delighted with recipes for more lovely tasting things that are no good for us I am sure but also how Hannah comes to the right conclusion and will she catch the man or woman who committed murder right in front of everyone. But will she ever make her mind up about Mike and Norman?

The business of who Hannah is going to choose is starting to wear a bit thin. Although I went straight on and read the next book in the series, I am wandering if she ever makes her mind up? This was quite a strong story compared to some of the previous novels, it builds up to something as opposed to being an instant murder near the beginning of the book. 

These are pure cosy crime books – and recommended if you want to read but know that your brain perhaps cannot cope with anything too deep or complicated. They could even be my guilty read, if a thing should ever exist! 

Books

An Autumn Crush – Milly Johnson

This has the autumn recipe to warm your heart as the summer days are merely a distant memory.

Juliet is divorced, it turns out her husband would rather have her best friend than her. So now out on her own in her thirties it is time to take stock of who she is and go after the right man after all. She has someone in her sights. Trouble is that someone does not have Juliet in their sights but there is someone who has set their cap at Juliet, expect she just cannot see it. Steve is simply her twin brother, Guy’s annoying best friend.

Now Guy has his eye turned by Juliet’s new flatmate, Floz. Trouble is every time he sees her or even speaks to her he seems to just make a fool of himself. Floz thinks he is not very nice but that does not matter she is involved with someone, albeit at a distance but it looks like that potential relationship is doomed.

So 4 single people all related in some ways – you know what is going to happen. But who cares? Not I.

This is a book which is modern, the language and the references are up to date. For a change it does not contain vacuous skinny girls but  voluptuous real women dealing with modern issues. The men are trying to be macho but really quite vulnerable and simply wanting love. It deals with the crushes we have as teenagers and how they are still lying dormant despite becoming adults. The crushes from afar and close up. It encompasses many ways we love people, and how sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. Perhaps it is all meant to be.

This is a novel, to escape with. Predictable in the fact that you know what will happen, but as I say who cares, just read and enjoy.

This is my first Milly Johnson read. Another author I have found with a back list to catch up on, especially if I want some afternoon escapist reading. 

Jottings

Jottings #12 Jumbles and Jigsaws

I really do not know where time has gone or is going, and I thought it was time that I popped along and say hello. There is nothing amazing or major going on, it is just work is thoroughly busy and I seem to have less time to get on the computer at home and post reviews. When you have been looking at figures and a screen all day, firing up the laptop in an evening (stand fast today) is not really what I want to do. I am still reading which is good. But there is much I would like to mention and share, hence why I thought I would do this post of my jumbled thoughts and see if you can find the pieces to put it all together in some semblance of a jigsaw.

Strictly – Yes it is that time of year again, and yes I am watching it. However, I have to say I think I might have to say that this programme may have had its day. Over two hours of a programme on a Saturday night is some sort of marathon and I often get up and wander about doing other things whilst it is on. The celebrities seem to be getting less famous or well-known as the series goes on and the jokes are predictable whether they come from Tess, Bruce or even the judges.

The other factor that makes me think, enough is enough. Is the results show. Sorry if I am going to spoil something for you, but they film it on a Saturday night and simply change costumes and presenters and then claim it is a Sunday. Do not insult the British audience’s intelligence, they know. And if they are also intelligent enough and not completely hooked by the programme, they probably know who is out anyway. I check on a Sunday AM through the medium of Twitter who has left. How many others are doing this? So I am not really watching the programme when it is on.  I feel because I am not hooked by the programme I don’t really care about it any more. And if you check out Elaine’s Blog she has got this two-hour programme down to about forty minutes by recording it and watching at another time, and fast forwarding through all the dross that fills the programme. But because I am fickle, I will still watch it and perhaps when it gets down to the last few it might be a bit more captivating, until then it will be a background noise on a Saturday night for me.

Sticking with TV and getting down to the last few is The Great British Bake OffNext week is the final – oooooo. I have been hooked by all these wonderful individuals who have brought so much to the programme. I think Mary Berry has been harsher than in previous years and Paul Hollywood, still has that smug look (along with contestant Frances) about him and I always think he needs taking down a peg or two. I so want to be able to bake every week. When I have lost the few pounds (weight not money) that have crept in I will certainly give my baking skills a bit of an exercise. It will not be anything so creative as these people but still it is lovely to eat homemade stuff. Doesn’t it taste better than shop bought mass manufactured items?

And I also cannot understand why the next series of GBBO has to be moved to BBC One. Again are they insulting are intelligence that we cannot possibly work out where to find one of our favourite programmes to watch? We can work a remote control. And also in this day and age where you can record your TV programmes weeks in advance, from your mobile phone, your bus, work, the loo, in the pub or wherever. Does it really matter which flipping channel it is broadcast on? Rant over.

Don’t worry BBC I managed to turn my television over when I wanted to another programme which is a favourite – Downton Abbey. (I went from 1 to 3 on my remote control – I had to lie down afterwards of course). I know folks have complained about a scene a couple of programmes ago and they have every right to do so. It could have been a lot worse, I am sure and more graphic. Sometimes it is the suggestion which is worse. I was only disappointed by the fact that it was Nigel Harman that did the deed! (Secret Crush – not so secret now) That aside, I do like the subtle wry wit and humour between some of the characters, makes me chuckle on a Sunday night.

Now enough television, what about books. Well I have 4 waiting to be reviewed and also a book club meeting to write up. Then a post on a book I gave up on, life is too short.  I have the posts created as an incentive to get me to moving. In fact some have words on them too! As for the books that need reading, well I expect it is like all of you out there – too many to choose from. I have been making a headway into some of my books which is good but I need to turn to some of the wonderful offerings from the publishers. Too many books, too little time.

I am intrigued by the winner of the Man Booker Prize, I like the sound of the book. Anyone read it? Would you recommend? I see it is a mighty tome.

As for the new Bridget Jones, I am slightly disheartened to read that Mark Darcy is no more. And it was part serialised in a newspaper, which put me off too. I have read very mixed reviews about it so I think I might wait for a paperback version. Sometimes it is best not to go back. Although if I was one of the lucky few that got a copy of the book, with part of the David Jason autobiography in it then I would have been thrilled! His book is on the Christmas List for sure.

I heard him on Chris Evans Breakfast Show last Friday on BBC Radio 2. If you get the chance do catch up on some of the clips. I am most excited that Open All Hours is coming back for a one off at Christmas. I loved that programme, I have it on DVD and watch it at least once or twice a year. I so wanted to go and poke round the shop. I did get to have a picture of the outside of it a few years back. It is in fact a hairdresser’s in Doncaster and round the corner from where many of many relatives lived and are now buried.  It will be interesting to see how it will all work some thirty years later.

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Knitting, I have been knitting. Stitching, felting, painting, glueing in fact a range of crafty things. (Distracts from Strictly!) I am in the process of knitting squares for a blanket for a friend who is most poorly. There is a group of us doing it, as a joint gift. Then we thought we would make some more stuff to sell and raise money for my friend who is hoping to run the London marathon next year for the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.

Followers of this blog will know that I decamp to the Knitting and Stitching Show every year with my mum for the day. This year’s trip has just passed and I need to share all that with you too. Although the coach journey has a strikingly familiar feel to it from past years…….

What else is going on – well Saturday is Guildford Book Festival Readers Day and I am off again to Guildford (Funny that!) to pick up lots more recommendations no doubt for my every growing wish list. I am trying to resist buying books. I have a couple already which I might take with me to get signed. I will report back to you all, there are lots of authors going who I have not read anything by them at all!

Autumn they say it is – but I have the new warmer fluffier slippers out. The heating has been tested to make sure it is working, although I have had no hot water in my bathroom for a while; now sorted and the winter quilt is on. I think I could quite happily hibernate.

I am fitting in swimming, Body Pump, sleeping, cleaning, eating and all of life’s other bits and bobs as well as working too! One of the reasons we are busy at work is well check out the Court Circular tomorrow (17 Oct). I will not be there, I have been more involved in preparation, but I am sure she is not worried that she will not meet me.

Hope you have enjoyed my jigsaw come jumble of thoughts and that if I have not popped by your blog and said hello for a while, I have been dropping in when I can.

What have you all been up to?

Books

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

At the end of the first novel in this trilogy, Katniss has defied the Capitol. It is inevitable that it will not be the end of the matter. No one is going to be able to live happily and freely. Even though as victors Katniss and Peeta have a life of relative comfort there are many more that do not.

It is decided that as it is the 75th year of the Hunger Games there will be a special version of the games – the Quarter Quell. All previous victors are chosen in a similar way to the reaping and will again have to fight to death, until one of them is left standing.

But there is an undercurrent in all the districts and it seems that Katniss small action in defying the Capitol has led to uprisings and a discontented population. Those in charge and perhaps maybe everyone wants more of a say. Even the peacekeepers seem to be less controlling in District 12, Katniss home district change, there is danger everywhere.

There is a suggestion that perhaps the mysterious District 13 that was obliterated because of the uprising does exist after all, and it is utopia that all the other districts are trying to strive for. Or perhaps it is just a manipulation of the power hungry President Snow and all those in the Capitol.

So into the arena which seems to be working very differently to anything Katniss was expecting. There also seems to be more friendly competitors as well. But as previous victors fall at the hands of others, it looks like Katniss might not be able to save herself or Peeta in the end. Has the Capitol finally won and regained control? Time is ticking down in the arena and there could be only one way to force them out of it.  But what will the consequences be this time.

This book is as good as the first. It describes well the different parts of the districts, the families and the control that the Capitol has. It does not go over old ground so you do have to have read the first novel to make any sense of the events in this book.  There were a couple of points which I had to go back and reread to get the understanding of what was going on, as I did in the first book I put this down to the fact that I am not normally a reader of Science fiction and therefore I have to programme by brain as such to be able to switch into another universe.

These books work on so many levels and I can see their appeal to Young Adults (the intended audience) and adults. It raises many questions; how much are we really in control, what is being controlled by unknown sources are we really free or are we being played as if we are in some sort of very large game. This book should not incite rebellion, far from it, it just makes you realise much more about what we accept with no question. A book that makes you think without you realising it!

This is an excellent read and as I finished the book I was so tempted to start the final book straight away. But I wanted to wait until the film comes out and then I think I will read the third and final book in the trilogy – Mockingjay. Not long to wait as it is coming out around the 22 November this year! My book club has planned an outing to go and see it as we read The Hunger Games and are individually slowly working our way through the others. 

I am still surprised that I enjoyed these books as they are really not my cup of tea. Just goes to show you that sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone with reading, you may even surprise yourself. 

Books

The Roundabout Man – Clare Morrall

What must your young life be like if your mother is a famous author and her books are based on you and your triplet sisters?

Excitement at being famous? A close family? A financially secure present and past?

What if you grow up and still that millstone of a few famous books when you were child carries on into adulthood? And you are the only one keeping your mothers past and actually your mother alive?

This is the story of Quinn who has escaped all of this and lives on a roundabout?.A roundabout near a motorway service station which is his whole world. Where he scavenges for food, drink and friendship. He knows all the workers and they know him. Even if he tries to keep a low profile.

Imagine what would happen if the press got hold of where he lived and the conditions he lived in? The legacy of being Quinn the boy in those infamous childhood books would suddenly be the most important thing? Can Quinn avoid anyone knowing the real truth about him?

This book reminded me of the hearsay about the author Enid Blyton and her rather difficult relationships with her own children. It seems her legacy was a not a nice one for her offspring. This seemed to be the same with Quinn and his sisters, who escaped rather quickly when old enough and have been fairly disjointed from each other for the rest of their lives. At times I found it was quite painful to read when you see how the mother reacts to her own children and it did not make sense when they took in foster children. The past that Quinn had was rather painful and it has obviously affected his adult life which Clare Morrall dealt with well and in surprising ways; hence the title of the book.

I found the writing a bit odd to begin with it goes back between the past and present and it was not always clear where the division was and the added excerpts of the books made it a book you did need to concentrate on. It took some time to get used to the writing but once I did I was drawn in to the is world. Morrall brought to life the service station and you could well imagine someone living there and getting away with it for a long time. The anonymity of a place which is just somewhere where people simply pass through, nothing else.

This is a book is slow throughout but not in a detrimental way, it is not supposed I feel to have page turning moments and heart stopping twists and turns. It is a story of a family and how they exist and survive with a past.

This was a book I would not have picked up if it was not for the wonderful blogs that I read where I first spotted it. It was different, I was captured by the idea of a man living on a roundabout. Also once I started reading I was drawn into the world of being famous almost by default and the impact that can possibly have on you. 

A very different read that doesn’t fit easily into any category and cannot be summed up as a book about one particular genre or aimed at a particular audience. It is aimed at anyone who likes reading quite simply. I am intrigued about what Clare Morrall’s other novels are like and will add her name to the every growing list of people to read.