Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Mrs Mac Suggests - What to read in March '18

Well well, most of the UK seems covered in snow,  and the Siberian winds have taken us down below freezing.  Lots of reading for me, just breaking to load the woodburner!  But stocks are low-ish now, and our next log delivery cannot be here until next week.  Oooer!  But nil desperandum - our woodshed holds all those bits of wood that don't have to be paid for - ends of skirting boards, old garden posts, and the remains of ornamental trees cut down by my bloke on the instructions of his clientele.... but not me.  I will take any of those small trees, Mr Mac cuts them into apropriate lengths and into the wood shed they go.  Geting rather near the floor now, but I believe we will make it!

Anyway - press on.  What to read in March?  Well, I have quite a pile, but 

I suggest you read a nice chunky book based on a real life character, or written by one.

I've had this on my shelf for  too long, given to me by a bookie friend who died some years ago.  I need to read it, so I will.  It's 

   The Final Confession of Mabel Stark - Robert Hough 

Good reading my friends, and just now please keep warm. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

Angel - Elizabeth Taylor

Angel  For me a perfect little novel, only 240+ pages.  The story of an inverted snob, brought up by a single mother above a small grocers’ shop, who dreams of wonder, riches, romance and a “nice” home.  Starting at the end of the 19th century,   the book swiftly covers WW1 and WW2 without saying much about either (unless it concerns her).  Her first novel is published when she is  15.  The first publisher returned it quickly with a rejection slip;  the second publisher  thought it so funny he decided to publish.  But to Angel,  it wasn’t funny at all, but  a “bodice-ripper” in which she uses wrong phrases and words, and describes things she knows nothing of.  She will publish more books like the first, will gain an army of fans, she will make money, she will  fulfil her dreams – but she will never be happy  And she has the sharpest tongue imaginable.  Extremely dislikeable but a wonderful character to read.

There are a multiplicity of paperback covers available via Amazon, but I chose thise because it felt "right" (even though Angel never used a typewriter). I certainly didn't like Virago's 2008 cover - they were doing a whole set with close-up photographs - I guess to make them fresh, but I dislike every single one I have seen.  Your choice!  And of course the book is the thing, and one should never judge a book by it's cover.........

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Young Jane Young - Gabreille Zevin


Got to hand it to Gabrielle Zevin, she never writes the same book twice. This one is odd but very readable. Odd, not in the subject matter, but in the quirky style.
 Aviva Grossman is 20, a young intern who falls in love with a congressman. Guess what, he doesn't love her, but he likes sex (of any kind, a lot). So that brief affair - will it ruin her life? Well... let's go back to the beginning. The first third of the book is told in the voice of Rachel, Aviva's wonderfully portrayed Jewish mother. She worries that her daughter is too fat, too clever too, well - too everything really, and then she finds out about the affair. The second third of the book is told by Aviva's daughter Ruby, in emails to her Indonesian pen-pal. So we get to find out that Ruby doesn't know who Aviva is/was because her Mom is Jane Young, Events Organiser. A name change and flight to another state seemed the best way to go after her youthful affair hit the headlines. And finally, we go back to Young Eviva and the choices she took to get her where she is today, in the style of those children's books where you get to choose the next event. Refreshing to read a different kind of book, even if the subject is as old as the hills. This was a really enjoyable read for me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Thanks to Amazon who gave me a copy of this book in exchange for a review                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant - a very old fashioned name to go with a woman who is "frozen" somewhere in her head and can only do things in a certain way (including three nights of vodka drinking at the weekends). Which is fine, as she does not do much else. She works in an office, her colleagues find her odd; she doesn't care for them either; she's doing a repetitive job which suits her personality.... and I found myself asking the question "Asbergers?"  Something in her life has made her close down when it comes to personal relationships, and it is only when she has an IT problem and the new IT guy - laid back, badly dressed, in need of a haircut - arrives at her desk that we see that Eleanor just might be worth saving.  At this point I should point out that this is not a romance as such, although Eleanor and IT guy become close friends, mostly at his instigation.  My heart was breaking for her, and I couldn't see anyway out of her lifestyle, but then slowly, things start to change.  She was like the Ice Queen to start with, but her thaw and the revelations it brought were heartwarming.

As the book unravels, small clues are dropped and the ultimate revelation is ...... no - I won't say more for fear of spoiling your enjoyment. I enjoyed the read very much. Odd Eleanor may be, but I liked her anyway at the beginning, and a lot more at the end.

UK cover shown 

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Happiness for Humans - P Z Reizin

  When Jen, employed to "talk" to Aiden so that he learns lots of new words and ideas, finds herself discussing her favourite film with him, we know that this is going to be an interesting ride.  Certainly Aiden has some sympathy (really?  are they supposed to feel that ?!) for her having been recently dumped by her partner because well, he just found someone else.  Aiden wants to try his hand at matchmaking, and here you have to suspend belief because of course, AIs are not supposed to step outside of their programming, and who would programme one to match make?  The characterisation is very good, Poor Jen, who just needs to get a spark back in her life; her tough but lovely best friend Ingrid, Aiden the AI, and Aisling, another AI and ..... well if you come across the book, just get stuck in.  The Ais have definite characters, and the humans are not bad either.  By the way, Aiden and Aisling have escaped from the lab, and are whizzing around the world wide web, finding out interesting things for their selves, and generally having a bloody good time.  Until.... well, there is a villain out there - had to be really - and a very bad one indeed.  Which is when things start to go badly wrong.

A delight to read. I just ploughed through this in one day, and loved every page.  If you spot this one, do have a go.   Just over 400 pages, and I had a spare and long afternoon in front of the wood burner.  Nice way to spend the time!   Definitely will be in my top ten for this year.


Sunday, 4 February 2018

Palm Oil free - Trevarno Soaps and other products

Sometimes, even at my age, I want to change the world.  And I get upset that I can't.  The plastic in the oceans; the loss of rain forest..... just two of the things I cannot change on my own.

When I have B and B guests the drinking water I supply them comes out of my drinking tap and goes into a glass (and therefore washable and reusable) bottle for their bedroom.  There.  That was easy, wasn't it?  Perhaps you could change the bottles you buy for just one glass bottle and fill it from your tap daily.

Palm oil plantations replacing original forestation including areas of jungle and rainforest.  What to do?  It's in everything in the bathroom.  But not for much longer since a friend of mine gave me, as a gift, a bar of the soap below.  Today's blog is not an advertisement.  I don't know anyone from Trevarno, and Trevarno did not approach me nor pay me.  What happened was that this little gift made me think about my little one person stand.  Then I thought maybe if I told readers about it it could be a few persons stand.... and so on. It might become a "thing"!

The company is not owned by Big Pharma, and it's products smell out of this world, too, so when my bar is finished, I am going to order more.  And other products too - because I don't need to put money in Big Pharma, and I want to save the world.  And of course it's a UK company which helps our economy.  Here's a link to their website:

Organic Rose & Jojoba Soap Trevarno Skincare

Maybe you won't like the products.  But you might find something palm oil-free that you do like, You only have to read the label!  And by the way, thank you Mary for buying me the first bar!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Minnow on the Say - Philippa Pearce

A book for children  - but children of all ages. This wonderful tale of a canoe (Minnow), two boys and a hidden treasure enchanted me, and I suspect, many other readers.  If this title is new to you, seek it out, have a go, it may do the same for you.  The late Philippa Pearce was also the author of Tom's Midnight Garden, rather better known - but may I suggest that you find this one and read it.  I was taken up almost immediately when the boy who finds the canoe, and the boy who is the rightful owner, find each other and become friends one long English Summer.

 David finds the canoe at the bottom of his garden after a stormy few days, lodged against a little wooden landing stage.  His Dad suggests that it could do with waterproofing, reminds him that it must have an owner, and that he should at least make some effort to find out who that owner is.  But of course, being a grown-up, also suggests that David reports the find to the police, which he does.  The village policeman is not very interested..... so David takes the cannoe out on the river, and of course comes across the rightful owner, Adam.  A boy similar in age to himself, and a boy, just like him, wanting adventure!  The friendship is forged very quickly, and when Adam tells Tom of a lost family treasure that he needs to find soon or disaster will overtake the little family that he has left, Tom is only too keen to join him and solve his friend's problems with the aid of a sixteenth century verse.

  Their adventures whilst seeking a that treasure are just wonderful.  I was in that canoe myself!  But nearer and nearer comes the day when it will too late if the treasure is not found, and the boys are desperate.  The sort of adventures that any child worth their salt would want! 

For good readers 8+;  for reading aloud,  and for a child of any age at all - 9 to 99.

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...