Saturday, 9 January 2010

100+ Reading List

Click here to find out about the challenge.

1. Cause of Death - Patricia Cornwell
The seventh Dr Kay Scarpetta novel. Used to be a great Cornwall fan, but found the later novels had lost their sparkle. Read this one after a long gap. Enjoyed it even if the ending was rather rushed.
2. Dinner for Two -Mike Gayle
Bit of fluff audio book. Listen to audio books when I am sewing. Easy listening.
3. Dance of the Gods - Nora Roberts.
Picked this up, as she is always rated in the New York Times list. This is the middle book of the Circle Trilogy, which I didn't realise. I still read it and thoroughly enjoyed the vampire slaying, magic and romance. I might even get the first and last book to fill in the blanks. Not my usual choice, but it was an easy read.
4. The Red Dahlia - Linda La Plante.
Audio book about a copycat killer, who brutally murders a young girl, mirroring an infamous 1940's case in Los Angeles. The story was a little slow to begin with, but was interesting, nevertheless.
5. A Whispered Name - William Broderick.
This book was advertised in our library, as it had won a crime writer's award. (sorry I can't give more details, as I have lost the poster!) It was written by an ex-monk, and based partially in a monastery. One of the monks is trying to solve a mystery about another dead monk. This monk had formerly been a soldier in WW1 and involved in a trial and subsequent shooting of a deserter. I found the beginning of the book very confusing, but I had to finish the book. The prose was beautiful, but I could only read a chapter at a time. Interesting, but I did not really enjoy it.
6. Medusa - Michael Dibdin. An Aurelio Zen Mystery.
This thirty year old murder is based in Italy. The story is politically based, and although I found some of the Italian terms confusing, at times, I enjoyed the story, and would read another Aurelio Zen mystery.
7. The Angel of Death - P.C Doherty.
Hugh Corbett, Edward I's clerk, is asked to solve the murder of Walter de Montefort at High Mass, because the person with most motive is Edward himself. Hugh is put under extreme pressure, but is able, in the end, to work out how de Montfort was killed, using pure logic. An easy, listen-to audio tape.
8. Black Dog - Stephen Booth.
Teenager Laura Vernon is missing, then found by pensioner, Harry Dickinson, but the police believe he is hiding something. Young Detective Ben Cooper and ruthless Det. Diane Fry must understand the past to understand the present. No one is perfect, or as innocent as they see. Lots of twists and tuns in the plot.
9. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger.
This is a love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-one and Henry thirty. Once I got it into my head, that Henry's age changed, so that he could be younger or older, whilst Clare stayed the same, I really got into the book. It showed that time-traveling, in Henry's case, could not be controlled, and therefore the situations, in which he found himself could not be controlled. A really moving book, which made me think. Lovely.
10. Love and Devotion - Erica James.
Harriet Swift has to give up her flat, her job, her boyfriend and life as she knew it, because her sister and brother-in-law die, leaving two children, who Harriet has promised to look after. This event causes a chain reaction to family members and friends, and nothing will ever be the same in Harriet's life again. A big book, but a good, easy read.
11. Souls of Angels - Thomas Eddison.
Set in Los Angeles in the nineteenth century, Sister Rea, a Beneditine Nun, returns to her home to try and save her father, the Patron, from being executed in eight days time for the murder of a pregnant prostitute. This is a tale of love, redemption and revenge. The Patron is seemingly mad, dressing up daily in different cosumes, and who is the sinister figure in a brown suit, who is trying to murder Sister Rea? An extremely unusual story. I did not enjoy it, but it had a good twist at the end.
12. The Cat who smelled a Rat - Lillian Jackson Braun.
Set in the village of Pickax in Moore County, this tale is a blend of crime, silky cats and endearing characters. It is also free of violence and harsh language, which is most unusual nowadays. Koko and Yum Yum, two, highly intelligent cats, help their owner, Qwilleran, solve the case of the burning fire houses.
13 & 14. Morrigan's Cross, (Dance of the Gods), Valley of Silence - Nora Roberts.
The library van had book 1 & 3 of the vampire trilogy (see review No.3), so I started back at the beginning of the circle. This is a rip-roaring adventure, vampires, stakings and bloodthirsty fights. Great fun. An easy read.
15. Getting Mad, Getting Even - Annie Sanders. I really enjoyed this book! It was poignant, funny and really well-observed. Two friends run a domestic agency for the uber-rich, supplying plumbers, maids and even getting a client's dog dyed to match its owner's dress. Then, one evening, they are visited by a lady, who asks them to help her get revenge on an erring husband. The girls do it so successfully, that the word spreads, and the fun, and trouble, starts from there. Great read!
16. When the Bough Breaks - Johnathan Kellerman. When a little girl witnesses the prelude to a double, gruesome murder, Alex Delaware, child psychologist, is called in to help the police to see if he can get her to talk. The plot twists and turns, as do the pages! Really clever plot. I am definitely going to read Mr Kellerman again.
17. Picnic - Lesley McDowell. I absolutely detested this book. Why did I read it? It started off quite well, about an academic who changes job, and who also has a fraught relationship with her mother. The grandmother went missing, and the mother will not tell the daughter the circumstances. The reader has to get hints from innuendo, at the beginning, and the author obviously draws on her experiences as a former academic, to describe the angst the daughter feels in her new job. The grandmother was the only one who had had the nerve to get up and go. I felt like telling the rest of the characters to follow suit!
18.Betrayal in Death - J.D. Robb. Full of gory murders, fast pace action, futuristic detecting and gorgeous men. Who could ask for more? Nora Roberts under the pseudonym of J. D. Robb at her best.
19. Blindfold - Lyndon Stacy. Gideon Blake, artist and animal behaviourist is blindfolded and kidnapped and is told to tame a wild stallion, without taking the blindfold off. Thus starts the adventure, which leas to arson, aggression, violence and romance. Quite a good story, but how the hero survived so many punch ups is something else!
21. Ratcatchers - James McGee. Audio book. This story touches on the beginnings of the Bow Street Runners, espionage, conspiracy, underwater submersibles, and Napoleon's spies in Britain. What has the highwayman got to do with the sultry French emigree and Hawkhead, the Bow Street Runner, who has to track him down. Look forward to the next one.
22. In the Dark House - Deborah Crombie. Great plot which twists and turns. Lots of seaparate incidents, from fires in warehouses, a hospital administrator who disappears, a 10 year old girl held hostage by an anonymous woman and at the centre DC Kincaid and DI Gemma James working to get it all worked out. Great listen!
23.The last Wish - Andrzej Sapkowski This author is seemingly a European superstar, and I can understand why. Tis story was translated from Polish, and i could not put it down. Geralt is a witcher who wanders from place to place, killing demons and monsters. Sounds pretty far fetched, but Sapkowsky weaves in well know fables and legends, but from a completely different perspective, to which we have been used. Really good story, well written (and translated). Will look out for more titles.
24. To Catch a Stone - Elizabeth Lord. A very poor attempt at a Catherine Cookson type story. The plot was unbelievable and boring. Would not read any more of her books!
25. Divided Loyalties - Patricia Scanlan. Really good story about family siblings and the dynamics between the two sisters and brother, the father and the husbands. I really enjoyed this and could not guess how it was going to end.
26. Playing Away - Adele Parks. Audio Book. Why is it that women who have everything, loving husband, good job, fantastic friends and a great social, fall for real creeps. You know the type - great looker who can't see past the end of his nose. All the women fall for him hook, line and sinker, but he is a LOUSE! Enjoyed this thoroughly! Great listen!
27. The Shipping News - Annie Proulx. Audio Book. I loved this book. It is full of fishing lore, off beat romance and wildly eccentric characters. Quoyle is a timid newspaperman, whose wife dies running away with another man. He retreats to Newfoundland with his two children and his non-conformist aunt. He survives the first harsh winter, and with help from the enduring, local characters, he eventually finds love and himself in this bleak climate.
28. A Death Left Hanging -Sally Spencer. Why did Margaret Dodds insist that she was innocent of a brutal murder, yet allow an incompetent barrister represent her? Why thirty years later does her daughter, a prominent QC insist her mother was wrongly hanged and that the case should be reopened? Not an overly exciting read, but it had a good twist at the end.
29. Forty Words For Sorrow - Giles Blunt. Det John Cardinal does not give up, when four teenagers go missing, in seemingly unrelated circumstances. Cardinal has a lot of personal stresses, with a depressed wife, who is frequently hospitalised, a daughter who is going to an extremely expensive university and the knowledge that he has done something corrupt in his early career. Two bodies are found, extremely mutilated, and the police realise it is only a matter of time before the latest victim will be killed in a horrendous manner. Sometimes there was too much detail of the manner in which the murders were committed, but a good listen, nevertheless. Not for the faint-hearted!
30. Strangers in Death -Nora Roberts. Usual format. Gutsy detective married to a jaw- dropping, good looking business man, who owns a good part of the world in 2060. Dalls has to find out who murdered Thomas Anders in such a scandalous and titillating manner. Easy read. Enjoyable.
31. Compulsion - Jonathan Kellerman. Picked this up without realising it was another Alexdelaware mystery. Who is the murderer who has butchered four women, without anyone being able to give a good description of the felon? Easy read, but maybe not as good as the last one.
32. These Foolish Things - Deborah Moggach. Imagine a retirement home set up in India to take care of British pensioners, who are looking for something different in their retirement. Cheap accommodation and plentiful staff and mango juice with their gin. This audio book was entertaining and different. I enjoyed listening to it.
33. To Kill a Witch - Bill Knox. This is the first Thane and Knox mystery I have read. It was a simple story, but I would read another by the same author.
34. The Cold Moon -Jeffrey Deaver. The Watchmaker is a cool, sadistic serial killer, or is he? This was a fantastic audio book. The turns and the twists in the plot kept on going right to the last minute of the cd. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Must get another John Deaver when I am at the library.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy!

The WI are holding a card evening tonight, and I was asked, along with other people, to bring a plate of savouries and a plate of sweet things. I thought I might as well do some extra, as the oven was on. This is the result -

A large quiche,
a dozen individual quiches,
a dozen sweet mincemeat tartlets,
a dozen sweet mincemeat pies
and a large sweet mincemeat pie.
Some will go to the card night, some have already been eaten, %-), and the rest will go in the freezer.

This afternoon I was also busy. I have been finishing off two presents for my granddaughters.

I bought these baskets years ago, knowing I would make bedding for them sometime. I made a mattress, a pillow and three blankets for each bed. Two blankets have lace, and the other blanket has each girl's name, embroidered with my lovely Bernina 630E. I also embroidered their names on ribbons, tied to the tops of the beds. Hopefully there will be no arguements as a result.

More Christmas ornaments -

A folded star. First one is in ribbon, which is not successful. The second one is in foiled paper.
This ornament is very scabby and falling to pieces, but if you were over sixty years old and shoved into a box for most of your life, perhaps you would be too! This is another war time ornament, cut out carefully and stuck together.
I did not finish this post before I went to the cards. All my pies and mini quiches were eaten, and I got the booby prize - some really nice napkins for the table. I am hopeless at cards, but I really enjoyed myself.
Thankful Thoughts
The bad weather in Britain is supposed to be worse tonight, with the temperatures going down even further. I am therefore glad that my fireplace is finally finished, apart from a tiny bit of cosmetic work, so we are really warm and cosy, even if the electric goes out. Thank You.
Till next time.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

January!! (Photo heavy)

As well as the excitement of a brand new year, with goal setting and aspiring to keep resolutions, I think the beginning of January can also be a little sad. All the colourful decorations are taken down, the tree is bereft (see above) and suddenly the house looks bare! The decorations have to be carefully packed away, but I promised you I would show you some of my ornaments, some hand-made by me or by special friends, or some really special ones, tied forever to loving memories. We were supposed to be going down to see my grandchildren, to give them their presents this week, but the snow is so bad in the whole of Britain, (the worst winter for 50 years, according to the News tonight) we have had to cancel our plans. I was going to show these photos on the blog, when I was away, but it looks as if we won't get down for some time, so Christmas ornaments in February would look a bit strange!! A lot of my ornaments are a little 'tired', but they will never be thrown out!

I think I have mentioned Santa below. He is my all time favourite. My Mum got him out a Cornflake packet during the war (before I was born, I hasten to add), painted him red, somewhat faded now, and he has been on the tree ever since.

The next eight photographs are of ornaments I made for a workshop I used to run. Every summer I used to hold a 'Christmas in July' workshop. In the morning the ladies would make a lot of small items in a variety of crafts. They would then be given a Christmas lunch, with turkey and all the trimmings, sherry trifle and cream, tea and mince pies, and in the afternoon they were given the choice between two patchwork wallhangings. It was great fun, and so I have a lot of Christmas ornaments I made for the class.

Very simple wreath wrapped with ribbon

Cross stitch, wrapped over thick card, with either cord on its own, or cord and lace. (above and below)
Mini patchwork squares (about 3" - above and below) and material scraps pushed into a polystyrene ball. I also used 3D paint to edge the sledge - yuck!!
Lace gathered into a wreath and then stiffened.

Paper mache heads made into Santas.
A bad example of Suffolk puffs.
I am really proud of these. I made these with the ladies, but years later, I got my pupils with special needs to make these for Valentines Day. Every one of them managed it, even the boy with cerebral palsy, and he gave it to his Mum!

A crochet stocking. You start off with a Granny square, but on the last row you do some extra stitches, fold it over, sew together and you have a mini stocking!

I also have had some lovely ornaments from friends. This was a gentleman, who knew I loved beading, as much as he did, so he gave me these for my tree.
These ornaments were made by my Mum, who died over 22 years ago. She got a lot of mini milk cartons (the one you get in a cafe for your coffee). She emptied them, washed them carefully, and then got my son and daughter to help her decorate them. I love them!

I got my son to wrap up a lot of matchboxes when he was wee. This is the only survivor!
Thankful Thoughts
The weather in Britain has been dreadful. Snow, snow and more snow! We have had some hail and a little furry here and there, but mainly it has just been cold. I went out into the middle of the bay this morning with our dog. You can see the water is slowly coming back into the bay, and in the other photo, you can see the sun shining on our house. Aren't we lucky? Thank You.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A Happy New Year!!

I want to wish all my bloggie friends ' A Guid New Year and lang may yer lum reek!" (translation = a good New Year and hope you have warmth for a long time) We had a very quiet time and were in our beds at 1.30 am. We stayed up to see the New year in and watched the celebrations on TV. On the stroke of midnight the big cannon (Mons Meg) at Edinburgh castle is fired and then the celebrations take off. There was a huge firework display, not only there but at most cities, and everybody wishes everybody else a "Happy New Year'. Inverness had to cancel the street celebration party, on the advice of the police, as it was snowing so badly. In Scotland, if you are celebrating at home, you can stay in like us, or go 'first footing'. Traditionally, a first footer took a bottle (whisky), something to eat (shortbread or cake) and a piece of coal. When they arrived at a friend's house, they would hand over the food and the coal, and everybody would have a drink from their bottle. In return, they would be given something to eat and drink. This meant that the house would never want for food, drink or warmth throughout the coming year. It was thought that, if the first footer had dark hair, the house would have extra luck. Fair-haired people were not so lucky, so the brunettes were always pushed in first.
Nowadays, most people do not have coal fires, and the old traditions are dying out. It is a shame.
Thankful Thoughts
Our house is lovely and warm, despite it being really cold outside. I have had a lovely turkey dinner, a nice glass of wine, and I will be having a big plate of trifle, a little later on, when I can manage it! I leave you with a picture of the turkey, almost ready to go into the oven. We cooked it last night, and I ate the bacon, just before New Year!

Till next time.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Christmas and New Year

There is not much sewing going on around here, only a little by hand, so nothing really to show. I thought I would let you see some of my Christmas decorations, that I have made over the years. I usually put up a lot of wall hangings, but for some reason, I did not do that this year. I only put up the one shown above, which is my husband's favourite.

I have also included two pictures of us enjoying Christmas with our daft dog, Penny. I have on my hat, which I made for the Women's Institute Christmas hat competition. I got second prize.

We had our own turkey this year. We raised seven, and we will be having another for New Year.

I do hope you have a wonderful New Year and that all your dreams are fulfilled.

Thankful Thoughts

Turkey with streaky bacon roasted on top tastes wonderful!!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas (when it comes)

I got both trees up last night, one in the lounge and a smaller one in the conservatory. I adjusted the colour of the above picture and the next two below, but they don't look right. I decided this year to leave the tinsel off the tree. I usually smother it with tinsel, but then you cannot see the decorations. I have some decorations going back to wartime, and I have made a lot of them myself, as well. My favourite one is an old Santa in the front of the tree, near the red bell. Seemingly during the war (I wasn't born yet!) there were no decorations to be had. My Mum got the Santa out of a Kellogg's cornflake box and painted him red. He always goes on the front of the tree, and my sister and I used to fight, to put him on it. The tree looks very pretty and makes the room look as if Christmas is coming.

I found these two beaded necklaces, which were almost completed, so I finished them quickly in case I needed an extra present for someone. If I don't use them I will have two new necklaces. The top baggie is knitted, the bottom one is a brick stitch amulet. I decided I did not want a fringe on the bottom one. The colours are much nicer in real life.

Thankful Thoughts
I am so thankful I am not living on Mainland Scotland just now. They have had so much snow. They have had the worst weather conditions for the last twenty years. All transport has been disrupted. Roads and airports have been closed, and yesterday the Automobile Association was dealing with 1200 breakdowns per hour! We had a light fall of snow a few days ago, as you can see below - just like icing sugar on the grass, and the next picture shows what is left! It has been very icy, which is really unusual, but beautiful.

This was yesterday's sunrise -

and the bay today-

I do hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that Santa is good to you all! You deserve it!
Till next time!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

A Christmas Card for you!

I know, I know, I haven't blogged for nearly a month, but suddenly Christmas appeared on the horizon, and I started running from one activity to another, and did not accomplish much. To add to the complications, the building work is still on-going. The lounge had to be cleared, as the old fireplace was going, so I have had excess furniture in all the other rooms. We were getting a shed built and a porch added to the back of the house, so that mud and dirt would not be trailed through the house, as most people use the back door. The work has been gong on for months. The new fireplace is almost done, with only a wooden surround to be fitted round the hearth, the shed is complete, but needs to be modified, as it is letting in water and the porch is ongoing. Soon everything will be back in place, hopefully.

My machine has been red hot recently. I always make my own Christmas cards, and have done for as long as I can remember. I started out early, this year, with great intentions. I bought some designs from Emblibrary, and thought this would be a good way to learn how to use my embroidery module for my Bernina Artista 630E. The designs were fabulous, and I am delighted with the results. I learned how to resize, use multiple copies and change the positions of the design in the hoop (see below)

These are only some of the angels I made -
I also make my headers and inserts

The insert reads -

This little lacy angel

Brings you lots of Christmas cheer

And hopes you will have joyous times,

Throughout the coming year.

She’s made of thread and lots of love

That’s sent to you from me,

And next year, if you take her off,

She’ll hang upon your tree.

And this is what the card looks like -

I had great fun, but as usual, needed a lot more cards than I thought. It really is nice to hear from friends far away, and I always look forward to seeing or hearing what they have been up to. I also made Christmas stockings for the girls - but that is another story!
So ... I want to send this Christmas angel to all my bloggy friends. I don't have your addresses, but all my (and my husband's) best wishes are sent to you, for all the enjoyment you have given me throughout the year. Thank you so much!! (Please read on!)

Thankful Thoughts

As well as thanking you for all the great blogs, and the ideas I get from the blogs, I want to keep up the thankful thoughts. Who could not be thankful, waking up to a sight like this? This is the bay in front of my house, a few days ago. It was just after 9am, the sun had just risen (remember we have very short days just now) and the bay was empty. The picture is a little blurry, but you can just see someone on a tractor. Glorious, isn't it?
Till next time.