Update and boutique shopping 14/12/17

I am going to show you the two items I bought when I was out on Tuesday, after my haircut. There is a lovely new boutique which has opened nearby, selling very pretty tops and a massive range of accessories, beautifully displayed and all crammed into a tiny space. The owner is lovely and welcoming and it is so refreshing to have something like this in our rather boring little market town. The Sonrisa boutique has its own Facebook page, if you are interested.

Poncho and scarf from the Sonrisa boutique in Hinckley

Poncho and scarf from the Sonrisa boutique in Hinckley

The shop has a gorgeous and colourful collection of one-size tops and I quickly spotted this navy poncho.  The fabric is a fine mixed fibre jersey and there are bands of sparkles around the v-neckline and on the front edges, which are finished with fluffy pom-poms. The iPad camera couldn’t quite capture the colour, which is a dark navy.

I think I will probably wear this on Boxing Day with my navy cotton polo neck top, velour trousers and boots. We always go out to a local favourite pub for lunch on that day and this poncho will hide a multitude of puds! It will need very little jewellery as too much would fight with the sparkly bits. Perhaps my Swarovski ring and earrings will be enough. I don’t want to look like a dark blue Christmas Tree!

The second item, as I showed on Tuesday, was a pretty acrylic fringed shawl in turquoise, navy and bright pink. It is so soft and ideal for snuggling in bed, during these cold days and evenings. In fact, I love it so much that I have hardly stopped wearing it since I brought it home. Soooooo sooooooft!

Eek! As I was finishing editing this post, I visited the shop’s Facebook page and saw that the owner has uploaded the photos she took of me… this is more of me than you usually see on here ☺️😊.

Pretty sparkly poncho at the Sonrisa boutique

Pretty sparkly poncho at the Sonrisa boutique

It just goes to show that you can get a pretty little pick-me-up (or two) for very good value  if you keep your eyes open 😍💗😍💗 and don’t want to fork out for an Hermès scarf!

Best wishes,

💗💕💖💕💗

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Reading roundup 13/12/17

I have really enjoyed my reading this week, with some great print and ebooks borrowed from our public library service. By the way, I deliberately mention our library system as often as I can – it is being systematically demolished by our present government, to their shame.

Only We Know by Karen Perry

Only We Know by Karen Perry

The first book of the week was Karen Perry’s Only We Know. Oh, just one thing first. There are inaccuracies in this blurb and also the cover is completely wrong! This playground image does not fit with the story at all. Here is the book’s blurb:

In 1982, an idyllic summer is shattered when three children play a game that ends in tragedy.

Now, thirty years later, Nick, Luke and Katie remain bound together by the truth of what happened that day.

But some secrets won’t stay buried.

And when Luke vanishes and the threatening messages begin, it becomes clear someone else knows the truth – and is intent on justice, no matter what the cost…

I awarded the book three stars on Goodreads and wrote this review:

I am struggling to articulate what I think about this book. Told from varying points of view and in different timelines, it was interesting, gripping in parts, intriguing but also it lost my attention occasionally. About halfway through I guessed some of the outcomes, and was correct up to a point, but not totally, which was good. Not so sure about the ending, though.

It also had a very mixed reception from others on Goodreads, with some people giving it the full five stars. I do love the fact that books can appeal, or not, to different readers. We each respond in our own way. That’s one of the reasons why I check books out on places like Goodreads and also LibraryThing, rather than relying on professional reviewers. I like to read the varying responses.

Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz

Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz

My second read of the week was a first novel: Rebound by Aga Lesiewicz. Once again, the blurb:

Rebound is a dark and gripping psychological thriller from debut author Aga Lesiewicz.

I’m not a bad person, but maybe I did a bad thing . . .

Life is good for Anna Wright. She’s a successful media executive working for one of the UK’s largest TV corporations. She’s got a great boyfriend, some close friends and a lovely home. She adores her dog, Wispa, and she loves to run to help her de-stress.

But Anna’s perfect life starts to crumble from the moment when, out jogging on the Heath one day, she meets a handsome stranger. She takes a route into unfamiliar territory, and then she has to face the consequences.

There’s a dark, growing creepiness as the atmosphere becomes unsettled and, as Anna’s professional life becomes increasingly pressured and poisonous, her obsession with the intriguing stranger intensifies.

Now, I have a slightly odd and unsettling story to go with this book. When I was in the library choosing my current book pile, an elderly man passed me this book telling me that I would really enjoy it. I thought that this was a kind gesture and liked the ensuing conversation that we then had about books and reading. When I actually read the book, however, I realised that there is a great deal of sexual activity in it, mainly rough, very explicit and sometimes not exactly consensual. Then I started wondering if the elderly man had read the book that he recommended to me! I hope he was merely judging the book by its cover 😱😲😮!

Anyway, here is my review (three stars):

I read this all in one day, so must have enjoyed it! A very good first novel with a gripping plot. It could have been cut a bit though. I don’t think we needed to know the details of each meal! A few scenes were, perhaps, unnecessary. Well worth reading, despite a few caveats.

My caveats are that I cannot imagine any woman taking the totally stupid risks that the main character does in the book. But then, there wouldn’t be any story if she had been sensible!

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri

Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri

My third read was an ebook translated from Italian: Kill the Father by Sandrone Dazieri. This deserved a solid four stars and was a great book:

In this fascinatingly complex thriller, two people, each shattered by their past, team to solve a series of killings and abductions…

When a woman is beheaded in a park outside Rome and her six-year-old son goes missing, the police unit assigned to the case sees an easy solution: they arrest the woman’s husband and await his confession. But the Chief of Rome’s Major Crimes unit doubts things are so simple. Secretly, he lures to the case two of Italy’s top analytical minds: Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, and Dante Torre, a man who spent his childhood trapped inside a concrete silo. Fed through the gloved hand of a masked kidnapper who called himself “The Father,” Dante emerged from his ordeal with crippling claustrophobia but, also, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and hyper-observant capacities.

All evidence suggests that the Father is back and active after being dormant for decades. Indeed, he has left tell-tale signs that signal he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante. But when Columba and Dante begin following the ever-more-bizarre trail of clues, they grasp that what’s really going on is darker than they ever imagined.

This is is the first book in a series and I cannot wait for the next one! Here is my review:

A complex, long and very exciting thriller set in Italy and translated from Italian. Well drawn main characters who are out of the ordinary and layers of plot twists. I downloaded this as an ebook from the public library catalogue as an afterthought and, instead, came upon a nugget of gold. I can’t wait to read the sequel which will be available in February 2018!

Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

Now We Are Dead by Stuart MacBride

I had such a great time with my reads this week that I also finished a fourth book. This was an ebook which I had reserved ages ago. I love Stuart MacBride’s dark sense of humour and his great characters so this was immense fun to read: Now We Are Dead. This is number 10.5 in MacBride’s Logan McRae series and centres on the Roberta Steele character:

Sergeant Roberta Steel has recently been demoted after being caught fitting up a suspect. The trouble is, the man she got sent down has had his sentence quashed now he’s back on the streets. And women are being attacked again. But if DS Steel goes anywhere near him his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good.

The Powers That Be won’t listen to her not after what happened last time. Besides, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy perhaps she should focus on solving them instead of harassing an innocent man?

But Steel knows he’s guilty and the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer. The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him?

This is my review:

It is not often that I give a book the full five stars, but this one really deserves that accolade. How MacBride manages to marry such dreadful scenes and events with dark humour, I will never know, but the book had me almost in tears at one moment and then laughing out loud at the next. Steele is a fabulous character and the small touches of police life (the daft names used for positive and negative happenings, for example) are simply brilliant. Love this series so much. Please don’t stop writing about these characters, Stuart!

By the way, please read the other books in the Logan McRae series before tackling this one as you would not really get the best out of this book if you don’t.

Women and Power: a Manifesto by Mary Beard

Women and Power: a Manifesto by Mary Beard

My next two books have a feminist twist. I am about to start Mary Beard’s Women and Power: a Manifesto and will the probably skim through Girl Up by Laura Bates. I will let you know what I think of these two next week.

Happy Reading to you all,

Best wishes,

📖📖📖📖📖

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Update 12/12/17

My hair appointments seem to come around quickly. Mind you, I usually have them every six weeks and this time the gap was only five, because of the Christmas holidays. I have been very happy with my hair since I had it cut shorter as it now has a lot more bounce and wave. This has made it look a bit thicker, which is good news. I had a fair bit chopped off today plus a blow dry, which always looks nice. It will be interesting to see what my hair looks like when I wash it myself as I just mess it up a bit with my fingers and then leave it to air dry. I don’t have the energy or skill to blow dry it.

Depending on the light, you can really see the greys growing in now and I am really interested to see what colour I am going to be. I have a silver streak at the front that has been there for decades, but I am still not sure what the rest will be like. I am far too impatient!

As I was feeling pretty good today, I also popped in to a new boutique which has opened near my hairdresser. We have very few interesting shops in our local town, and I hope this one stays. The stock is well priced, appears to be very good value and is a real treasure trove of pretty tops and really cute accessories. And you all know how I simply cannot walk past accessories! I will show you what I bought on Thursday, although the “after” photo below gives you a preview.

Before and after haircut 12/12/17

Before and after haircut 12/12/17

Reading Roundup tomorrow!

Best wishes,

💜❤️💚💙💛

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Update 11/12/17

We have had beautiful snowy weather for the last few days and our street and garden look lovely. As I don’t have to leave the house these days, and am not worrying about getting to work, I can appreciate the thick layer of sparkling white over the neighbourhood. The lads work fairly close by so are able to walk and I don’t worry about them either.

I am concerned, however, about those people who are less fortunate, particularly those who are homeless. It must be dreadful trying to keep warm and dry, particularly in weather like this. The number of homeless people in the UK is shocking and horrific and I sometimes feel ashamed to live in a country which seems to tolerate this.

So, when I saw this on Facebook I had to take a moment to listen. This song takes me right back to my childhood and it is great to see that it has been released in a new version by Crisis UK, the charity supporting the homeless, to raise money. I have uploaded the video from YouTube here, but urge everyone to either pay for their own download or to think of the homeless when making their next charity donation. You can download Streets of London from here, or make other gifts to the charity here. Ralph McTell still has such a wonderful voice!

Best wishes to you all,

❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️

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Outfit of the day 08/12/17

After yesterday’s pretty awful selfie, taken to clearly show my emerging greys, I washed my hair and have taken another photo. I think that this one is a bit better! The outfit was an attempt to try something out which would go well with grey hair. I have had this grey jumper for years. The cashmere is still incredibly soft and light, even after being washed loads of times. The scarf colours are a pretty mixture of turquoise, blue, grey, gold and black, but the silk is very cheap and fine. As a whole, I believe the outfit works OK.

Today’s outfit:

  • Grey cashmere, short-sleeved jumper – John Lewis. Image shows similar item.
  • Teal cashmere cardigan – Pure Collection. The colour is closer to that in the selfie below : a rich blue/green.
  • Navy cotton velour joggers – Cotton Traders.
  • London Blue topaz and silver earrings – Blue Nile.
  • Aquamarine glass and copper wire bracelet – Craft Fair.
  • Silk scarf in turquoise, grey, blue, gold, and black. Tied in a half-bow knot.
Outfit of the day 08/12/17

Outfit of the day 08/12/17

I hope you all have a great weekend, despite the snow ⛄️!

Best wishes,

💛💜❤️💚💙

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Growing out the grey: update 07/12/17

I am due for my next hair appointment on Tuesday and have already decided that I will continue to avoid hair dye. My next haircut will be a pretty radical trim so that I can get closer to my grey “transformation”! It is very easy to see the grey coming through now and I am interested to see what colour it will be when all the dyed parts have been cut away.

I am trying to remember exactly when I began consistently having my hair coloured at the hairdresser and think that it was probably at least sixteen years ago. Before that, I used to do it myself, with very mixed results. So, let’s say that I started around twenty or so years ago. I can remember having a very mixed natural colour then: a basic mid to light brown, with some patches of salt and pepper at the back and a clear silver streak at the front. Now I can see that silver streak coming back, but this time with more silver at the sides and a darker grey at the parting. I am getting quite excited in anticipation!

There are still the issues around which of my existing clothes and accessories will suit my new look and which won’t. I also have concerns about my thin hair on top and how that will turn out.

Well, we shall see. Probably by the time Spring arrives.

Anyway, the photo below shows really clearly my grey growth. It is a very unflattering picture as I brushed all my hair back off my forehead! Eek! 🤭😬🙄

Going grey 07/12/17

Going grey 07/12/17

I will continue to take (probably equally unflattering) photos so that I have a record of my “progress”. 😁

Best wishes,

💛💜❤️💚💙

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Reading roundup 06/12/17

This has been a much better week in terms of reading. The upside to having to stay in bed is that I have more time for my books, if my concentration levels are OK.

Tell Me a Lie by C J Carver

Tell Me a Lie by C J Carver

I have read three books and am halfway through a fourth, which I will tell you about next week. The first book of the week was Tell Me a Lie by C J Carver. Here is the blurb:

A family in England is massacred, the father left holding the shotgun.

PC Lucy Davies is convinced he’s innocent

A sleeper agent in Moscow requests an urgent meeting with Dan Forrester, referencing their shared past.

His amnesia means he has no idea who he can trust.

An aging oligarch in Siberia gathers his henchmen to discuss an English accountant.

It’s Dan’s wife.

This is the sequel to Spare Me the Truth, which I read a couple of weeks ago and awarded four stars. This book had a three strand narrative which all came together at the end. Tell Me a Lie was, in my opinion, a less successful book although still very enjoyable and I gave it three stars. This was my review on Goodreads:

I would have given this four stars, but after thinking more about the book, I just couldn’t get past the rather ridiculous plot convolutions which were needed to bring all of the strands together. The story was gripping enough and interesting enough for me to read it quickly. I enjoyed the book a lot, but it eventually began to feel rather OTT and stereotypical. Kind of James Bond type meets Russian villains meets beautiful women meets cops with issues plus British background etc., etc. Fun, but a bit daft.

I am sure that I will read more in the series if Carver decides to continue with it!

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

My second read of the week was another book reserved at the local Library: The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz, the second in his Orphan X series:

He was once called Orphan X.

As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children’s home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists. But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to vanish off grid and use his formidable skill set to help those unable to protect themselves.

One day, though, Evan’s luck ran out . . .

Ambushed, drugged, and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him. As he tries to piece together what’s happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.

With time running out, he will need to out-think, out-manoeuvre, and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he’s never encountered to have any chance of escape. He’s got to save himself to protect those whose lives depend on him. Or die trying . . .

This was fun to read:

Another enjoyable episode in this series – well, I assume that there will be more. I wonder if they will ever make a film from these books, or would they be too much like James Bond with all of the cliff hanger scenarios and interesting gadgets, guns and ingenious ways of getting out of scrapes. If you don’t take your thrillers too seriously (despite the gore), then you may like this and its predecessor!

I did give this four stars, but perhaps both this and its predecessor should really have 3 1/2!

Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie

Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie

I am a massive fan of Joe Abercrombie and have read just about everything he has written so far – I cannot wait for his next book. My third book of the week was Sharp Ends, a collection of short stories from his First Law world:

Sharp Ends is the ultimate collection of award winning tales and exclusive new short stories from the master of grimdark fantasy, Joe Abercrombie. Violence explodes, treachery abounds, and the words are as deadly as the weapons in this rogue’s gallery of side-shows, back-stories, and sharp endings from the world of the First Law.

The Union army may be full of bastards, but there’s only one who thinks he can save the day single-handed when the Gurkish come calling: the incomparable Colonel Sand dan Glokta.

Curnden Craw and his dozen are out to recover a mysterious item from beyond the Crinna. Only one small problem: no one seems to know what the item is.

Shevedieh, the self-styled best thief in Styria, lurches from disaster to catastrophe alongside her best friend and greatest enemy, Javre, Lioness of Hoskopp.

And after years of bloodshed, the idealistic chieftain Bethod is desperate to bring peace to the North. There’s only one obstacle left – his own lunatic champion, the most feared man in the North: the Bloody-Nine . . .

Here is my response:

I love Joe Abercrombie’s books and the worlds that he creates and really wanted to give this one the full five stars. One of the reasons that I couldn’t quite do that was my own fault: it is quite a while since I last visited the First Law world, so I had forgotten some of the detail and characters and, therefore, missed some of the fun in recognising them in these stories. Also, some of the tales were far better than others. Despite that, I really enjoyed being back with the dark humour, the sometimes downright hilarious situations and the vivid characters. Bring on the next book!

Only We Know by Karen Perry

Only We Know by Karen Perry

I am over halfway through this fourth book and will write about Karen Perry’s Only We Know next week.

I hope that everyone who visits these Reading Roundup posts is also finding great books to enjoy!

Best wishes,

💛💜❤️💚💙

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