Tag Archives: Books

The Year in Books – March

Happy April 1st!  Have you been caught out yet?  I have fond memories of being told about cows in the garden and strange cats in the bathroom over the years but now the children have grown up and left I just lurk at home and wait until 12 noon has past when I am safe.  I always enjoy going through the newspaper to spot the outlandishly tall story though, although no-one will ever top the Guardian’s wonderful article about the island of San Serriffe.

So from reading the newspaper to reading books, and I’m here to tell you about my March book selection, ‘The House on Paradise Street’ by Sofka Zinovieff and what I have lined up for April.

The House on Paradise Street by Sofka ZinovieffThis book is actually a little out of my comfort zone. I tend to rather zone out of politics and war, in print as well as on film, but this is a fascinating and poignant story about the Greek Civil War.  About which, I am ashamed to say I knew absolutely nothing.

The blurb on the back says:

In 2008 Antigone Perifanis returns to her old family home in Athens after 60 years in exile. She has come to attend the funeral of her only son, Nikitas, who was born in prison, and whom she has not seen since she left him as a baby. 

Nikitas had been distressed in the days before his death and, curious to find out why, his English widow Maud starts to investigate his complicated past. In so doing, she finds herself reigniting a bitter family feud, discovering a heartbreaking story of a young mother caught up in the political tides of the Greek Civil War and forced to make a terrible decision that would blight not only her life but that of future generations…

The House on Paradise Street is an epic tale of love and loss, which takes readers from the war-torn streets of Nazi-occupied Athens through the military junta years and on into the troubled city of recent times, and shows what happens when ideology threatens to subsume our sense of humanity.”

It’s not bedtime reading.  I found some of the images too sad and disturbing to fall asleep on, but don’t be put off by that that.  It’s well written, gripping and the characters are interesting and believable.  Also for me it helped fill a gaping hole of ignorance around what has been going on in Greece in recent times.

Thoroughly recommended!

For April I have lined up this book…

Perfect by Rachel Joyce - A Year in BooksWhich is something completely different!

I know lots of people loved Rachel Joyce’s previous book ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ (which I have yet to read) so I bought this for my mum for her birthday.  My Mum’s main occupation is reading as arthritis has put a stop to the knitting and needlepoint that she loved.  It’s really hard to find her something which is that bit different, and this apparently hit the spot.  I’m looking forward to it!

P.S. I’m working away on the four runners-up prizes for the Box of Delights giveaway but I’ve not yet had a response to my email from one of the winners. CINDY WILSON in Canada, are you there? Please get in touch… if I don’t hear back in a few days I will be re-allocating the prize.  It would be a shame to waste it.

I’ll be back soon…x

The Year in Books – February

Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro - A Year in Books

Elegance – by Kathleen Tessaro

Slightly belatedly, I’m here to report that February’s book for the reading project The Year in Books has been read!  This is a rather battered copy which I borrowed from my mum, again, because it’s not the first time I have read it.  It’s one of those comfort reads, which you turn to when you need something soothing and familiar.  I enjoyed it just as much the second time round and I thoroughly recommend it.

If you’ve ever thought a self-help book could turn your life around, you could just be right!  This is what Amazon had to say about it…

The Sunday Times bestseller and one of the most talked-about novels of 2003..

Elegance. Audrey Hepburn had it. Grace Kelly had it. Louise Canova does not.

Until one day, browsing in a second-hand bookshop, Louise stumbles over a faded hardback. Elegance is an A–Z of style, written by French fashion expert, Madame Antoine Dariaux: a veritable what-not-to-wear in print.

When Louise starts to follow Madame’s advice, her life is transformed. From Accessories to Zippers, there is nothing Madame cannot advise upon, including types of husband (the blind, the ideal, the dictator) and shopping with girlfriends (don’t).

Within the book’s pages Louise finds clues to her own past. And as she begins to unravel them, she discovers a courage she never thought possible. For true elegance cannot be attained until she is comfortable in her own skin: only then might love flourish.

My book for March is ‘The House on Paradise Street’ by Sofka Zinovieff…

The House on Paradise Street by Sofka ZinovieffWhich, as I become absorbed by it, is proving to be a darker but very compelling story.  A real contrast, which was just what I needed.

Before I go, I want to say that I have been completely touched and overwhelmed by the lovely comments which have been left on my last post about my 500 posts milestone.  Thank you one and all for so many kind and encouraging words, it’s really given me the impetus to carry on!

I’m assembling a little pile of pretty bits and pieces for the Box of Delights, but first I have to create the box itself, cue much research into the best size for potentially sending overseas.  I think I’ve got it right, so I’m off now to have a lovely time with glue and paper and paint and ink, what a great excuse!  Have you entered the giveaway yet?!

See you soon…x



The Year in Books – January

I’m scraping in pretending it’s still January and that I’m not a bit late with my January reading choice….please bear with me!

If you missed it, I’m joining in with the reading project on ‘Circle of Pine Trees’ which I wrote about here and my first book choice was The Red House by Mark Haddon.

Mark Haddon - The Red House - A Year in BooksAs it says on the cover, Mark Haddon is the author of the best seller, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, and I was curious too, to find out if he could follow up such a distinctive book.

I wasn’t disappointed.  My abiding memory of that first book was the way the author got inside the head of the main character, and with ‘The Red House’ Mark Haddon takes on a whole cast of characters, gives them all a voice and weaves the narrative without ever losing the thread of the individual perception of each person.

The book is a small slice of family life, it’s relationships and complications.  Seven days of a shared holiday with a brother and sister, their respective families, the ghosts of the past and the uncertainties of the future.

Having planned to make this my book for the month, I found myself devouring it over a couple of evenings, and becoming so involved with the characters I didn’t want it to end.

But apart from the strong characters Mark Haddon creates a wonderful sense of place, and his descriptive passages are very evocative.

I’m always nervous of accidental ‘spoilers’ when talking about books so I won’t say any more, but I do thoroughly recommend it as an inclusion on your reading list!

My February read is ‘Elegance’ by Kathleen Tessaro.

Elegance by Kathleen Tessaro - A Year in BooksI’m looking forward to a wander through everyone else’s January books to find a few more recommendations for later in the year, I hope you do too!

I’ll be back soon, when I will admit to it being February!

Baby Knits with Debbie Bliss

The rest of the world may think February 14th is St Valentine’s Day, everybody in the Planet Penny orbit knows it better as the due date for our latest family baby!  Babies, I know, have a mind of their own when it comes to their arrival time, but it’s going to happen sooner or later, so I’ve been wielding my knitting needles this week.

The Ultimate Book of Baby Knits - Debbie Bliss

I bought this Debbie Bliss pattern book at the Knit and Stitch show last autumn, but it was only last week that I headed into Norwich for some yarn shopping.  I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t done any ‘nice’ shopping for ages, and in the spirit of catching up with people in the real world rather than cyber space I was also able to combine the trip with coffee and a catch up with Lisa, whom many of you will know from her blog, Bobobun.

It’s nice that that after losing just about every yarn shop from the High Street not that many years ago, there are now more and more springing up, but it’s impossible for them to stock every yarn available so I think I shall be looking on line for some of the Debbie Bliss yarn I need for my baby knits,  However, despite not being able to get exactly the right wool for these little socks I was very pleased with the results after using this Sublime cashmere/merino/silk blend.

Debbie Bliss baby knits

baby knits Debbie Bliss

There are lots of things in this pattern book I would love to knit given the time, Debbie Bliss always comes up trumps with her patterns, and there’s a good selection for boys as well as girls which is sometimes a problem.  I love this simple little tank top…

Baby Knits Debbie Bliss tank top

And the back button opening makes it so much simple to get on and off a wriggly baby.

baby knits - tanktop Debbie Bliss

This simple tee shape looks cute in soft coloured stripes…

striped jumper Debbie Bliss Baby knitsAnd this little Wee Willie Winkie cap is just adorable, isn’t it…

striped cap Debbie Bliss Baby Knits

striped hat Debbie Bliss baby knits

And I’d quite like this teddy…

Debbie Bliss - teddy…and these coathangers for myself!

Debbie Bliss - Baby knits- coathangers

And, still in the book theme, remember I signed up for The Year in Books with A Circle of Pine Trees?   Laura’s January book is from Persephone a small publishing house I’ve long admired.  Waterstone’s quote…

 ‘Persephone is a wonderful publisher specialising in discovering criminally neglected books by wonderful female authors. Stylish and timeless – they make perfect gifts.’ 

…is very apt as nearly all the books I’ve bought from them have been gifts.  I’ve just received the Persephone Catalogue and magazine and this year I will treat myself to the occasional book (and drop large hints around my birthday!) as part of my reading project.

persephone books


I’m sitting at the keyboard and have just become aware of a pair of brown eyes staring at me accusingly – it’s Higgins’ dinner-time!

I will dash off as required before he starts getting vocal about his hunger!

See you soon…x


The Year in Books

I mentioned serendipity in my last post, as that is what led me to a blog I hadn’t visited before, and a project ‘A Year in Books’ which is just what I need to rejuvenate my flagging spirits.

I’ve written before about my book habit, but over the years I’ve bought more and more books to feed the creative side of things, practical stuff, craft books, cookery books. My fiction reading has dwindled to 10 or 15 minutes a night in bed. Dozing off after a few minutes means that I end up rereading the same paragraph over and over trying to remember what is going on.

One of my decisions about slowing down and living in the real world a bit more was to put down the smart phone and pick up a book.  This was why when I visited Penelope by the Sea on her lovely blog,  L is for Love, I found she had discovered the perfect incentive on ‘A Circle of Pine Trees’.

Laura has created a reading project, nothing unattainable, of reading and sharing a book a month over the year.  It can be shared on her blog via a linky button, on Instagram or Pinterest, a great way to find recommendations for new authors and books.   All the details are in Laura’s post here, if you are interested in joining in.

My book for January is the latest Mark Haddon, which I bought on Liverpool Street Station on my way back from Aimee’s graduation a month ago (and hadn’t looked at since!) …

Mark Haddon - The Rewd House - A Year in Books

I made a start this morning in a packed hospital waiting room. Much better to get stuck into a book than fuming about my appointment being an hour overdue!  So thank you to Laura for devising the idea, and for Penny for pointing me in the right direction…

Meanwhile, unlike so many other places in the UK, we had a glorious start to the day so I wandered round the garden with Higgins to see what was going on.

The snowdrops are nearly up!

snowdrop buds

There are primroses…

January Primroses…and tiny miniature cyclamen…

cyclamen…and still at the end of the garden, a rose is blooming…

January RoseHiggins, meanwhile still dives into his bed to hide when his coat is put on and he knows he has to go for a walk, however bright the sunshine!

miniature dachshund in bedThank you for all the encouraging comments on my last post.  It seems I’m not alone in feeling a little jaded, I think a lot of us are experiencing post Christmas burnout!

Onwards and upwards….see you soon…x


Christmas Countdown – Day Twenty

Oooh, not long now! Day Twenty of the Christmas Countdown and there’s something else to hang on the tree, a paper songbird.

If you click on the image below you will find a link to the pattern for this little fellow, and of course, you can make him any colour you like!

Christmas tree decoration | bird | paper | music |

Planet Penny Advent Calendar 2012

This is an even simpler shape.  No pattern, but it shows that it would be very easy to make your own individual pattern and then make a whole flock of little birds.  Great fun for the children to decorate.

paper birds Christmas Countdown

ebabee likes

These fringed and cut paper birds are effective.  It would be nice to curl some of those feathers for an exotic effect.

cut out bird Christmas Countdown

Karin Lidbeck

I love this little birdy from Miss Clara, so many pretty things on her blog…

handmade bird Christmas Countdown

The Notebooks of Miss Clara

And finally… book art.  Isn’t this stunning?  I’m not suggesting you should try and knock up a table centre like this before the big day.  Just make a cuppa, there’s another beautiful blog to look at!

bird book art Christmas Countdown

My Modern Met

So I shall flutter off just now, and look forward to seeing you tomorrow…x

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