Reading roundup 09/08/17

I have managed to read four books since last week and have just started on another this morning. In fact, I have been reading to blot out real life as much as I can. Things have been very tough for the last few days with family issues and, unfortunately, my body reacts very badly to stress. So I hope readers won’t mind too much if I mainly use my Goodreads reviews this week.

The Iron Castle by Angus Donald

The Iron Castle by Angus Donald

The book I had just started last week was The Iron Castle by Angus Donald. This is part of a series using the “Robin Hood and his Merry Men” characters of legend in a historical context. I have not read any of the other books in the series, so kind of jumped in with this one, #06. This was my Goodreads review:

I can’t read a book like this any more without flinching at the horrible sexism. Yes, the book is mainly about the manly pursuit of warfare, honour and bloody fighting, but the depiction of the main female character is downright nasty. Alan Dale has the stereotypical madonna/whore attitude towards her. How on Earth any medieval woman could influence the men around her without using sex is beyond me!

I did enjoy the adventure of the book and the details of the siege were fascinating. I had a look at photos of Chateau Gaillard and can see the huge edifice it must once have been. The whole period when this story took place is very interesting, but it does bring so closely to mind the fact that so many millions of people have died over the centuries so that powerful men can gain a few acres of land. And so it still is today.

So, if I am in the mood for murder, mayhem and over-the-top masculinity, I may just read another! I gave this one three stars.

Darien by C F Iggulden

Darien by C F Iggulden

This next one was a lot more enjoyable and I awarded it four stars: Darien by C F Iggulden (pseudonym for Conn Iggulden).

A really enjoyable romping fantasy novel. I have read quite a lot of Iggulden’s historical fiction in the past and liked it a lot. This was a very successful change in genre for him. The characters were interesting, the setting well drawn and the plot exciting and gripping. Looking forward to the next episode in the Empire of Salt!

Oh, I must add that the author lists some of his favourite authors in the acknowledgments. No wonder that I like his writing as loads of his favourites are mine as well.

Those authors includes one of my most favourite: Sheri S Tepper 💕. As an aside, I was lucky enough to be the first person to borrow this from the local library – a lovely shiny new hardback book – mmmm!

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My third read was actually a re-read: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Here is the review:

I have just finished reading this for the second time, having first read it in the 1980s. Now, so many decades on and after having watched the TV series, it still gives me a visceral reaction. It just seems so possible! With the mad things that are happening around the world, it does feel as if a society like this could happen. After all, women are already suffering all kinds of horror worldwide. When women say that there is no longer any need for feminism I could weep at their blindness.

I have already written about both the book and the TV programme in previous posts, particularly this one on 31/07/17, so I don’t need to say any more here.

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

The October List by Jeffery Deaver

I read the fourth book, The October List by Jeffery Deaver, very quickly. It has a very unusual steucture, as you can surmise from the review:

This is definitely a marmite book – I think you will either love it or hate it. Well, I loved it. Yes, it is hard to read because the whole plot is turned backwards. You have to persevere to the halfway point before you really get a grip on what’s going on and who the characters are. Or rather, what you think is going on and who you think the characters are. Because there are so many surprises in store.

So very clever and so very gripping. I read it in an afternoon.

This is is the second book that I have read by this author, both very different although they are both thrillers, and I am sure now that I will be reading more.

Dead Joker by Anne Holt

Dead Joker by Anne Holt

I have now finished my pile of books which I  borrowed from the library, plus a couple of ebooks, and I am hoping that I will be well enough soon to go and borrow a massive load again. In the meantime, thank goodness for their ebook and magazine service. My current read is Dead Joker by Anne Holt, so I had better finish this post quickly and return to it!

Best wishes,


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Outfit of the day 08/08/17

I heard the rain begin at around 5.00 this morning and it hasn’t stopped all day. It has been so cold that I had to put a scarf on! This one is a very cheap, thin silk in shades of teal which match my eye colour. Unfortunately, the iPad camera changed the colours to blues in the photos below – the scarf is much closer to the teal shade of the bangle. Anyway, I like the real colours and the scarf is large and very soft against my skin, and it kept my neck lovely and warm. So that was good enough for me today.

Today’s outfit:

  • Navy cotton v neck, long sleeved t-shirt – Sainsbury’s.
  • Bright navy cotton mix cardigan – Lands’ End.
  • Indigo jeans – Cotton Traders.
  • Crystal and gold earrings.
  • Teal acrylic peacock feather bangle.
  • Teal ombré silk scarf – Accessorize.
Outfit of the day 08/08/17

Outfit of the day 08/08/17

I really want to get on with my new voluntary job for the food bank, but I have been feeling so drained after the last couple of days and I am worried about how things are going to pan out this week. Anyway, I have blotted out my anxiety by reading, and finishing, a really good book, which I will write about in tomorrow’s Reading Roundup post.

Best wishes,


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Update 07/08/17

I have been thinking that I could work out some kind of shorthand; perhaps a code that would quickly show what a day has been like. That way I could simply write it out and readers would be aware what is going on without me getting too repetitious or too boring. My daily life does get a bit dull, with the occasional “excitement” of a coughing fit or a family quarrel.

Well, I had to find something to illustrate this!

The code could look something like this, maybe:

  • MC – mild coughing
  • MJC – major coughing
  • FA – fainting
  • NV – nausea and vomiting
  • BR – bedridden
  • MIG – migraine
  • PA – panic attack
  • AR – acid reflux

You get the idea and those are just the ones for my health issues. This could be expanded to include wider family challenges:

  • MA – minor argument
  • MJA – major argument
  • ALI – Anne lost it
  • ASDM – Elder Son had an ASD meltdown
  • ESLI – Elder Son lost it
  • WFLI – whole family lost it
  • NED – nobody emptied the dishwasher
  • SFLU – someone forgot to lock up
  • FDLO – fridge door left open
  • YSBU – Younger Son’s bedroom was untidy
  • SEB – someone has been eating in their bedroom again
  • SDB – someone has drunk all of the beer
  • YLC – Yorkshire has lost a cricket match
  • LHPO – Lovely Husband was a little cross
  • LHFOES – Lovely Husband said a naughty word to Elder Son
  • MJS – major stress for all


That was yesterday.

Today has been a little better: BR, ESLI, MJS

Tomorrow is another day. Perhaps we can have PQ – peace and quiet?

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Outfit of the day 04/08/17 and news!

I have had such an interesting day so far and now I have some news to share. After sinking into severe depression when I first retired, I have been clawing my way back towards some kind of normality, for me. With the help of my GP, anti-depressants, a wonderful counsellor, family and friends I am beginning to feel more like my old self, at least mentally. One thing that also helps is a sense that I am doing something helpful or useful. Mostly, this is simply a small household task or supporting one of my chaps with an issue of theirs. I have also been thinking of wider matters that are of concern to me, particularly politically.

I have written about feminism and how I am feeling ever more militant in the present climate. My socialism is also getting stronger and Lovely Husband and I re-joined the Labour Party two years ago, inspired by Jeremy Corbyn. That inspiration has continued to develop to the extent that we tried to do as much as we could in the recent General Election to elect a Labour Government.

Some months ago, I realised that there might just be a tiny niche where I could help and maybe make a small difference. I contacted a local organisation and today went to see them to discuss my idea. Anyway, it looks as if I will be taking on all social media  development for our local food bank, on a voluntary basis of course. This is something that I can do from home and even from my bed if necessary. I will have to think it all through carefully, but I hope that this can work out for their sake even more than for mine. It is such a worthwhile cause.

If any of you are interested in finding out more information, our local food banks are supported by the Trussell Trust, as are so many around the UK. The Trust supports over 400 food banks and gave out over 1,000,000 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis during 2016/17, rising from just under 26,000 in 2008/09.

I am really looking forward to getting back to work!

After the meeting I still felt strong so we then went out for a lovely pub lunch. Wow! This woman is really living it up!

Today’s outfit:

  • Hyacinth viscose sleeveless draped top – Kettlewell Colours.
  • Hyacinth viscose wrap – Kettlewell Colours.
  • Indigo jeans – Cotton Traders.
  • Silver and crystal earrings.
  • Silver bow and bell vintage pendant.
  • White enamel and silver bangle.
  • Navy leather sandals – Suave.
Outfit of the day 04/08/17

Outfit of the day 04/08/17

I am now totally exhausted and back in bed, but smiling 😄.

Here’s hoping that readers all have a great weekend,

Best wishes,


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Outfit of the day 03/08/17

I have very little to say about today. Watched a bit of TV and finished my current book then reviewed it on Goodreads. Read various random things on my iPad. Had a bath. Pretty normal stuff for me these days.

I, however, also made plans for a special visit taking place tomorrow. Depending on the outcome of the visit, I will write about this in my next blog post. Sorry to be so mysterious!

Anyway, here is today’s outfit:

  • Navy cotton v neck, long sleeved t-shirt – Sainsbury’s.
  • Bright navy cotton mix cardigan – Lands’ End.
  • Navy and blue pyjama trousers – Sainsbury’s.
  • Crystal and gold earrings.
  • Bluebell enamel and gold chain bangle – Halcyon Days.
  • Dans un Jardin Anglais twilly – Hermès. In a criss-cross knot using a MaiTai horn scarf ring.
Dans un Jardin Anglais twilly - Hermès - collage #02

Dans un Jardin Anglais twilly – Hermès – collage #02

Yes, back into long sleeves as it is so cold for the month of August! At least one of my friends on Facebook has turned their central heating back on. I am also wearing layers again – under this lot I have a vest on too. I hope that we get some warmer days soon as there are still loads of my Summer clothes unworn this year.

Best wishes,


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Reading roundup 02/08/17

I read a real mixed bunch of books this week; some good, others definitely not so good!

White Nights by Ann Cleeves

White Nights by Ann Cleeves

The first was White Nights by Ann Cleeves, the second in her Shetland series and the last for me. This is what I wrote on Goodreads as I rated it with four stars:

Another excellent book in an excellent series. I have now read all of them to date and hope there will be another. And I would love to visit Shetland, if I were able to. Great atmospheric writing once again.

Not terribly profound or insightful, I know, but I have loved this series and can’t wait for another episode.

Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves

Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves

I read the above book as an ebook and when I finished there was another Ann Cleeves waiting for me in my library account, this time #04 from her Vera series: Silent Voices. Although Vera herself is not as attractive as Jimmy Perez in several ways, she is a fabulous character and I must admit that I think that Cleeves’ writing is even better in these books. Once again, she sets her scene so well and I recognised many of the places in Northumberland. We once visited in tumultuous rain!

The Salt Marsh by Clare Carson

The Salt Marsh by Clare Carson

The third book was definitely not a success. Sadly, Clare Carson’s The Salt Marsh irritated me so much that I simply had to stop reading it. This rarely happens for a number of reasons. Firstly, I hope that after all this time as a reader and librarian I am pretty discerning when it comes to book choice. Secondly, I have this inner voice that tells me that I should always finish what I start. Well, the inner voice should hold its peace! I obviously made a mistake in choosing this book and I must admit that other readers enjoyed it, according to the reviews on Goodreads. In my case, I became bored even with murder and mayhem going on. Bored with the annoying main character and her drug taking and stupidity. Bored with her back story. Bored with the other characters. Oh dear 😆. So, to sum up – this is a marmite book!

The Iron Castle by Angus Donald

The Iron Castle by Angus Donald

I am now reading something completely different: Angus Donald’s The Iron Castle. This is set during the reign of King John and includes lots of battles, sieges, warfare, murder and mayhem (but more exciting murder and mayhem than the above book). Robin Hood, Alan Dale and Little John are also there, romping through the whole thing.

I will now return to the world of medieval warfare!

Best wishes,


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Outfit of the day 01/08/17

A new month is here! It continues to puzzle me how quickly each year seems to pass by, time accelerating as I get older. It is my brother’s birthday today and Younger Son’s too in a few days. It is a poignant time for me as my Mother would have been 86 this August, if she were still here. I miss her so.

I have felt a little better today and went downstairs for a few hours, managing to complete a few household tasks. Even tiny things, such as putting a load of washing on, feel like an accomplishment these days. Lovely Husband is so overloaded at the moment and even a small action to help gives him some support.

I am showing you a very different scarf today. This one, in gorgeous shades of purple, green and blue, was made by Cathayana using the Japanese shibori technique. It is very delicate, so I don’t wear it very often, but it goes so well with the Lands’ End supima cotton top in purple. It nearly suffered an accident, mind you. LH asked me to go outside the house for a few minutes to look at something and, as I stood there, it began to rain. He looked rather shocked when I dashed back in to save the scarf from being ruined! Firstly, because he has not seen me move so fast for ages, and, secondly, because “It’s only a scarf!”

Only a scarf, indeed 😲😲😲!!!

Today’s outfit:

  • Purple, blue and green silk shibori shawl – Cathayana. Tied in a bow and placed at one shoulder.
  • Purple cotton top – Lands’ End. The image is similar.
  • Amethyst and silver earrings – Blue Nile.
  • Purple, aqua, pink and turquoise enamel and rose gold bangle – Liberty of London.
  • Navy leather sandals – Hotter.
  • Navy and blue pyjama trousers – Sainsbury’s. I am not showing these! If we had gone out today, I would have swapped these for my navy linen trousers from Isle.
Purple, blue and green shibori scarf - Cathayana - collage #01

Purple, blue and green shibori scarf – Cathayana – collage #01

The Cathayana website has lots to offer in addition to the shibori shawls like mine, such as bags, cosmetic purses, ponchos and slippers.  Have a look here for more gorgeous shawl colours.

These are their pictures of the shawl I have. The colours of the second photo are a bit paler than the real thing:

Shibori shawl - Cathayana

Shibori shawl – Cathayana

Shibori shawl - Cathayana

Shibori shawl – Cathayana

See – I do like scarves other than Hermès’! Sometimes 😉.

As it is Wednesday tomorrow, I will be writing a Reading Roundup post as usual so I had better get back to my latest book.

Best wishes,


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