City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.

City of Girls

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A coming of age novel set in the 1940s this glittering epic had me hooked from page one. Nice American girl Vivian is sent to stay with her aunt in New York and let loose, has an absolute ball. Her aunt has a small down at heel theatre company in downtown Manhattan, where Vivian makes costumes for the cast. When she isn’t sewing clothes Vivian is discovering the what New York life is really about with the theatre show girls. She hits NYC and she hits it hard!
Vivian! I hot damn loved you babe. You enthralled me. I listened to this on audio and the narrative was enhanced by the spot on reading of actress Blair Brown.



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The Year of the Ox.

Today, 12 February 2021 is Chinese New Year. Observers worldwide celebrate by feasting, letting go of grudges and wishing their loved ones good fortune.

This year it is The Year of the Ox. The Ox is the second of the 12-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar.

Image result for year of the ox

I was looking online for a suitable proverb and this has to be my favourite:

“A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.” – Chinese Proverb

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cruelties of families- the differences that parents make between siblings, the way siblings treat each other. ‘Our Little Cruelties’ shows with clarity how these acts of unkindness don’t disappear when childhood is left behind, but are carried through to adulthood with devastating consequences. Even more devastating is the way they spill over into the next generation and continue to ruin lives. Liz Nugent’s narrative is both fascinating and horrifying- difficult not to feel disgusted by the whole damn family. Loved it.



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The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada.

opens catalogue entry for The Auschwitz violin

This was my Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January) read for this year. it was part of East Sussex Libraries Holocaust reading list- find the full list here: Home | East Sussex Libraries (spydus.co.uk).

Daniel was a luthier- a maker of stringed instruments- imprisoned in a concentration camp. His craft saved him from certain death when the camp Kommandant wanted a violin handcrafted. The book is about unimaginable cruelty and suffering, resilience and sadness.

A harrowing and moving read.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a raw, disturbing and harrowing read. I had to keep reminding myself that this was set in my lifetime, Thatcher’s eighties, not the nineteen thirties depression era. A cross between This Is England is (2006 British drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows) and ‘Animals’ by Emma Jane Unsworth. A narrative of excess and poverty; poor parenting; sexual exploitation; resilience and survival. Shuggie went without basic life essentials- love, food and warmth, due to Agnes’s narcissism fuelled by her alcoholism. Not enjoyable, but a hard-hitting eye opener.



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British Football’s Greatest Grounds: One Hundred Must-See Football Venues by Mike Bayly.

British Football’s Greatest Grounds: One Hundred Must-See Football Venues

British Football’s Greatest Grounds: One Hundred Must-See Football Venues by Mike Bayly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I quite like a bit of football and I like the football grounds even more. Heard a review of this book on Talk Sport radio. Informative, accessible and with fabulous photographs I was entertained for a couple of days reading about these footie grounds and learning the social history behind them and their teams. I knew that lots of factories had teams that made the leagues, but I didn’t know that lots of the division teams originated as church teams. If you love football you will love this. It’s a book to dip in and out of throughout the season. Best of all for me, a local team was number one.



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The Christmas Cafe by Amanda Prowse.

The Christmas Café (No Greater Strength, #2)

The Christmas Café by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


You have to read at least one Christmas novel in December. This year for me it was The Christmas Cafe by Amanda Prowse. It was great to travel from Australia to Edinburgh- hot Christmas/ cold Christmas and get embroiled in Bea’s return to the country she grew up in and met the love of her life in. I also love a cafe and there were two very different ones here. I liked it.



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Grave Stones by Priscilla Masters.

Grave Stones by Priscilla Masters

Grave Stones by Priscilla Masters

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


The last few days I have been caught up in the goings on in Leek, Queen of the Moorlands. A farmer was murdered, the wife might, or might not have met a grisly end, a daughter is quite frankly totally unlikeable! In fact few of the characters are very likeable. Farmland versus suburbia. Cleverly plotted and an easy read, a cosy-type crime that kept me amused for a while.



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Weather by Jenny Offill.

Weather by Jenny Offill

Weather by Jenny Offill

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was expecting a narrative with a beginning, middle and end. It wasn’t. I nearly gave up and then I settled in and accepted it for what it was. It was a book for a voice- Lizzie Benson’s. Her life, job, family, her affair- her stream of consciousness. Like living someone’s day to day life with them.



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DI Gwen Danbury: An Odd Body by Sue Rodwell.

See the source image

English cosy crime at it’s best. DI Gwen Danbury comes from a family of investigators- her father was a police investigator and discussed his cases with her mother. We follow Gwen as she solves a series of unpredictable crimes. The characters were totally engaging- long suffering Gwen, endearing but comically interfering mother Joan and solid policeman Henry who Gwen secretly admires. Kept me quietly amused listening to this BBC Radio drama in the car, on a run and walking the dog.

Baillie Gifford Prize Winner.

Private Eye journalist Craig Brown has won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non- Fiction with One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time (Fourth Estate).

 “In the deep gloom of 2020, we have discovered a shaft of light. One Two Three Four is a joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration of The Beatles, a highly original take on familiar territory…”

 Martha Kearney (broadcaster)

Stir Up Sunday.

It’s Stir Up Sunday today (22nd November 2020) and I am making my Christmas puddings. Traditionally the preparation of Christmas puddings began on Stir Up Sunday- a term which comes from the Anglican church for the last Sunday before the season of Advent- 1st – 24th December. The name comes from the beginning of the Collect for the Day in the Book of Common Prayer:

‘Stir up we beseech thee , O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people.’

And in the words of another great book:

“‘Oh what a wonderful pudding!’ Bob Cratchit said and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage.”

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens