I recently watched the excellent mini-series adaptation of Howards End, and returned to the book, which I first read many years ago. I didn’t really understand it then, having just come from the more straightforward romance of A Room with a View. This time around, I loved it. It is the story of two families; one independent and intellectual, and the other practical and conventional, and how they can connect. The setting is gorgeous; bustling London and flowering rural England, and the characters funny, frustrating, wild, insightful and affectionate, as they go on this journey towards really connecting.
A stranger arrives in Banjo Crossing and soon becomes part of the community, but of course he is hiding from something. It did not take me long to fall in love with the characters of Banjo Crossing and their lives. The story is a heartwarming look at country life, community spirit and love.
The Great Alone is about Alaska in the 1970s; beautiful, remote, harsh, and populated with a small and tightly knit community. Ernt Allbright, recently returned from Vietnam and deeply scarred by the experience, brings his wife and thirteen year old daughter, Leni, to start afresh. Their struggle to survive both breaks and makes them. The characters, including Alaska itself, are strong and compelling, and while I found the story a little overwrought towards the end, on the whole it was a moving story about love, damage, kindness and belonging.
This is a really beautiful book; gorgeous photography, lovely stories to go with the recipes. There are some showstopping recipes, definitely at the fancier end of the scale, but there are some simple ones as well. The great thing about borrowing cookbooks from the library, is that you can see how many recipes you will actually make before you buy it. I made five recipes while I had the book, and want to make many more, so this is one to buy, or borrow again! I made lemon and poppy seed cake, raspberry and rose powder puffs, the take home chocolate cake, pistachio and rose water semolina cake, and apricot and almond cake with cinnamon topping. I don’t eat sugar, so didn’t taste any, but they were enjoyable to bake, and all went down well with those who did eat them!
When her mother dies, Rachel discovers that not only is her father not dead, but living with a family of his own. Rachel decides on a plan of revenge, but of course, nothing is as it seems. A lovely historical novel (1920s England) but I did not fall in love with the characters.
I have long been encouraged to read Terry Pratchett, and I put it off, I’m not sure why. I think, somehow, I just had a sense that he wasn’t for me. Perhaps I chose the wrong book. The Colour of Magic is very imaginative, funny, or at least amusing, and action packed, but I didn’t really enjoy it. All action and jokes, no character development and no heart. It’s kind of like a video game, with one dimensional characters moving quickly from one life-threatening situation to the next. If you like that sort of thing, it’s great, but I read for something different.
The story began well, introducing Thea and her work. There is a large cast of character to keep a track of, particularly when you were not sure whose side they were on or what was their place in the story, and I became a little lost with the story. The author was able to regain my interest towards the end of the novel as I had to find out who would survive and how the family relationships would resolve.
Bees are fascinating, beautiful, important little creatures, and I thoroughly enjoyed imagining life in a hive. Flora 717 is different from the other bees, even those from her own, low born kin, and through her journey we get to see the many different jobs of bees in a hive. This particular hive has dark secrets, that Flora cannot escape. There is a very strong sense of place and scent, compelling characters, and a tale of sisterhood, faith, love, betrayal, strength and sacrifice.
A sweet, quirky and amusing little book, I wasn’t in raptures over it as I was the first. Flavia de Luce is a precocious, eleven year old chemistry enthusiast and amateur detective, solving mysteries in her little village in 1950’s England.
“Bogey brain…smelly sausauge…”
This is a hilarious and warming story of two cheeky little creatures that fall out and fall in again over a lolly. Filled with the best nonsense name calling it is a story with a message about making friends.
Mums, dads and older siblings will have a great laugh reading this aloud to their own cheely creatures.