Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 395 – Weather Alert

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Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

John Ruskin

Thank you, Spidey, for helping me with another great quote!

Yes, yes, I am late again, but I was too tired to write the post last night!

So, where was I? Ah, yes, the weather…

As I sit here typing, the rain is beating a merry rhythm on my study window.

I won’t complain. After the extreme heat of the summer, the grass needs as much of a soaking as it can get, and I much prefer my garden to look lush and green, rather than scorched and yellow as straw.

It’s easy to get grumpy about the weather, isn’t it? For some, nothing is right.

The rain is too wet

The wind is too blowy

The sun is too hot

The snow is too cold

But, sometimes it is good to try and find that silver lining.

The rain is nourishing our plants and wildlife and refilling our reservoirs.

The wind is giving everyone a little shake-up to remind you to sweep up those leaves later.

The sun is giving your that dose of Vitamin D that some of us really need, and warming our souls.

The snow lets us cosy up with our loved ones and enjoy just being together.

Before anyone says it, yes, extreme weather is something different. Hurricanes, heavy storms, heatwaves; they aren’t fun, and not for the faint-hearted…

I think that even though some weather may make me sigh, disheartened, because the rain cancelled plans, or the heat is too much for what we wanted to do, there is still always something positive about it all.

I don’t even have a favourite kind of weather, or season, because each kind brings something positive, with it.

So, tell me, what is your favourite season?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

September 2022 Books #AmReading

It’s my birthday month, and I am back at school, so goodness knows if I will be able to stay awake long enough to read any books, lol! Took me a week to read the first book, so is that a sign of things to come? Only one book a week? Let’s see!

My Perfect Ex by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Perfect Ex is a great read with a social message woven through the threads of the story.
Mental health is something that, more than ever, now, we all need to be aware of and talk about.
We have our main character, Poppy, a successful business owner, ensuring that homes and businesses can have surroundings that encourage positive mental health. Because she has been through the harshness of living with someone suffering from depression and mental health issues.
The problem is she has never been able to share the burden of becoming a young carer with anyone, even her best friends, for fear of stigma.
Of course, there is more to the story. Poppy is hiding her relationship from her friends, too, because she thinks no one will approve of the fact she is with yer teenage crush, who they all pegged as a bit of a Romeo. But do they really know Dylan as well as they think?
She works hard to overcompensate for where she feels she has been lacking, and it’s only when she finally has to admit certain truths that relationships begin to unravel, and it takes a lot of soul-searching to get them back on track.
The story is set in Cherry Blossom Lane and surrounding areas, and I did enjoy the ending, which has made me wonder who the next main character will be, since this is the first of a series of books!

Gone Wishing by Jessie Newton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This time Jessie Newton joins the foray and adds her story to the Linden Falls-based series.
Loretta works for Neva in the Wishing Tree Inn when she’s not travelling around like a gipsy, returning forgotten items from the inn to their rightful owners.
This trip back finds her with two new friends, Sally and Lois, who accompany her back to Linden Falls.
Both women need a fresh start in their own lives and have issues they need to overcome.
Loretta has little faith in the power of the Wishing Tree after it failed her many years ago. However, she takes a chance on another wish when she introduces her new friends to the magic.
All three women need their own second chances at love, life and belief. The Wishing Tree certainly waves something magical in the air.
Lovely addition to the series.

Martha’s Cottage : An emotional family drama. by Fiona Cooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Martha’s Cottage is a story about trust. Or rather the effects of trust being broken. Sarah and Ben are struggling with the effects of infertility. Their marriage is teetering: balancing on each and every pregnancy that comes up negative, waiting for that positive that changes everything and balances everything out. Instead of waiting it out, Ben is pulled into an affair that ruins any chance they have of a happy marriage. And then she finds out something that could change even more in their lives. Sarah runs away to a small cottage owned by her best friend. A cottage that belonged to her grandmother, Martha. Here, she begins to re-evaluate her life. The story is based on the breaking of trust and whether you can ever rebuild it. The effects of infertility hit home, as we have been there, and not knowing if you will ever be able to fulfil that one dream you may have had forever is heartbreaking. But an intriguing story, nonetheless.

How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I do like to read books written by Indian authors and picked this up at the bookstore with high hopes.
Ramesh Kumar is the son of a chai-walla, who a French nun gave him an opportunity to educate himself. His intelligence means that he rises above his father’s abusive ranks and makes money by using his intelligence to help the sons of rich families get the results they need to gain admission into foreign universities and such.
He hits paydirt when taking one of these falsified exams and ends up with a client becoming a ‘Topper’, as in getting the highest marks that year.
This propels the young man in question, Rudi, to stardom, and Ramesh uses this to blackmail himself into the regular payroll of Rudi by becoming his manager.
The story highlights the level of corruption in so many areas of Indian systems, from education to government, police to broadcasting.
It was a quirky story with the appeal of Slumdog Millionaire.
Not a bad read, but maybe not one I would want to read again.

The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating: The perfect sparkling romantic comedy to fall in love with this summer! by Nina Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was looking for something on my TBR that would entertain me. A light-hearted read that I could escape into. And perusing through my list, I decided that The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating would be the right choice, and I was right,
It was a perfect choice!
Liv is living life. She has proved herself, moving away from her tough upbringing and working to a significant position in the company she works for, with her swish flat and plenty of great colleagues and friends.
Until it all comes tumbling down. The promotion she hoped for is snatched away from her, as well as the job she has put her all into the past few years.
Hard times always weed out the hangers-on from the real friends, and Liv realises that Dylan, her childhood buddy and surrogate big brother, is all she really has on her side.
Money dwindling and an oversaturated job market means that she ends up taking a position as a bartender in a hotel bar at the recommendation of an old acquaintance of hers, and this brings the opportunity to start a blog which could become something much bigger…
I read this in a few hours and was loathe to put it down if I am honest!
Romance? Yes. Alcohol? Plenty! Finding yourself? Absolutely!
I loved the characters who supported Liv on her journey of discovery, from Dylan, her straight-talking friend, to Amir and Reyes, her new bar colleagues who turn into some of the best friends she has ever had. The hunk that is Josh certainly added a few sparks, and Aaron, her guardian angel, was that and more!
Fantastic read, and now I can’t wait to dive into another of Kaye’s books!

Take A Moment by Nina Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a great book!
Alex’s life is running smoothly, with a career that is going great and a wedding in a matter of weeks. Everything is wonderful until she gets the rug pulled from under her feet when she collapses at work.
A diagnosis of MS sets her in a tailspin.
Who wants to be diagnosed with one of those ‘invisible’ diseases?
Alex finds her life turned upside down as she recovers from her initial diagnosis. Everyone has her wrapped in cotton wool, and no one thinks she can live her old life easily or safely.
After finding no positive support from her mother and sister, and a break-up with her fiance she decides to up sticks and moves from Scotland to Birmingham, much to the distress of her family.
Can you live alone once diagnosed with one of these degenerative diseases?
This book was so bittersweet, in many ways, from the way the romance side played out to the way family, ones and work begin to treat a person with a diagnosis for something like ME.
I applaud Alex for continuing to live her life, even with her barriers. Sure, she was stubborn in places, but lessons were learned, and she had a good bunch of people around her, too.
Sacha, her best friend, was brilliant with her problems but developed through the story herself. And when I talk about love interests, there wasn’t just one!
Most of all, I loved Emmanuel, her new boss, at her new job. An understanding woman who took the equality and diversity rules of their company and ensured that Alex was given a fair and rightful chance to perform her role, and when push came to shove, she was there for Alex when it counted.
And to answer my above question, you most certainly can live alone and live a full life, as long as you have your support network!

How to Kill Men and Get Away With It by Katy Brent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so I’ll start by saying it took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did, I was reading in a frenzy to find out what was going to happen!
Trigger warnings for abuse, rape and sexual harassment.
Kitty Collins is an influencer of very high regard.
She’s part of a circle of people who seem to have money, come what may, living a lifestyle of luxury, beautiful homes, endless social life and a steady stream of alcohol and drugs to fuel it.
As well as secrets.
Kitty has one or two of those buried deep inside, which only come out as the story unfolds.
But, she also adds a new one to her secret repertoire when she accidentally kills a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
This instigates a need to become a secret vigilante for the women of the world, trying to right the wrongs of society in her way. It might not be the right way, but it was one way.
There are shades of the #MeToo movement here, as well as the effects of mental health on a person’s way of thinking and behaving.
As I said at the beginning, it took me a little while to get into, but I’m glad I persevered!

On The First Day Of Christmas by Faith Hogan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A chance occurrence on Christmas eve leaves our heroine Liv in a precarious situation, where her life could take one of two paths…
Here’s where the story gets interesting.
Unfortunately, here was where the reading got confusing for me.
I loved the premise of the story. However, the two parallel stories, running side by side, were somewhat confusing as they weren’t labelled or separated by chapters.
We hear of the two different paths Liv’s life could take, after a chance with death on Christmas Eve, both with the same conclusion, however, I found myself having to backtrack to see which Liv I was reading about.
I still enjoyed the story; nevertheless, I could have done with a little more clear signposting.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

The review will be posted on or about October 27th, when wonderful author Anita Faulkner will be joining me for a Book and a Brew with Ritu chat!

Picking up the Pieces by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Amanda Prowse book to dive into? Don’t mind if I do! I am a huge fan of her magnificent writing, and I was not disappointed at all by the beautiful story that is Picking Up the Pieces.
Nora is a military wife, used to accompanying her well-decorated husband Gordy wherever he is stationed, but life is beginning to feel tiresome. She’s lost all sense of roots.
They are on the brink of collapse when a phone call shatters what was her life, as she rushes to be a support for her sister, Kiki, and little nephew, Ted.
I don’t want to reiterate the story to you. What kind of review would that be?
But what I will say is that Amanda Prowse has sensitively dealt with the fragility of mental health here as well as delving into how childhood experiences can shape your thinking and way of life more than you know.
Nora and Gordy are two people you could be friends with. Kiki and her masquerade as a happy single mum remind you that you should never judge a book by its cover.
And I must mention the little diversion to the story in several snippets from Spain that weaves another layer of magic into the inevitable ending.
Beautiful story. I read it in a day and admit to being sad when it ended, too!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 10th January 2023

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I have read anything with much of a steam factor, and sometimes, I need to remember what I am reading and where!
Okay, so that sounds like this is a bonk-fest of a book when it’s not! However, some scenes are in there to leave you hot under the collar!
So, back to the book itself, Tara Chen is a nurse and a book influencer with a penchant for romance, but she can’t find her prince.
After agreeing to move into her brother-in-law to be’s old apartment to allow him to move in with her sister, she embarks upon a search of her exes to find someone to have that second chance romance with…
Thing is, life isn’t a bunch of romance tropes, though if you look hard enough, you can probably find one to match what you are going through.
And sometimes, what you need might be under your nose the whole time.
Tara is a ditsy character who you can’t help but like, and her tendency to go all out is interpreted by many so wrongly when all she wants is happily ever after.
Her roommate (sorry, being British, I find this hard… I’d say flat-mate as they don’t share a room), Trevor, is a moody, surly firefighter with no romantic bone in his body. She knows his rakish type, with a different woman whenever he goes out. But he ends up giving the best advice, and they open up to each other in such a cute way!
Back to the steam… When the chemistry is there, OMG, you feel the heat turn up a notch!
Overall a fun book and I will definitely be putting Lea’s other book on my TBR as a result!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 21st January, 2023

A Whole Heap of Wishes by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another visit to Linden Falls, and this time, courtesy of my favourite author. Amanda Prowse.
This time we learn more about Vera, the owner of the local salon, curl Up & Dye.
Vera has been in Linden Falls for many years and is a settled part of the community, however, not many locals know much about her past.
Things begin to change as she receives a letter from her son, who she rarely sees, announcing his impending marriage and a visit to see her, bringing along his new fiancee and his father.
The Linden Tree made one of her wishes come true many years ago…
And after an eventful visit, another wish is hung upon that tree.
However, when wishes come true, they don’t always look like you imagined them.
We also get to revisit the first character Amanda introduced us to, Verity, from England, and it is great to see how well she has settled.
Lovely addition to the Linden Falls tales, and it was a delight to read Amanda writing from an American perspective instead of British!

Maame by Jessica George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A phenomenal debut by Jessica George, detailing the life of Maddie, a British-born Ghanaian woman left to care for her father, who has Parkinson’s, while her mother is running a business in Ghana, and her older brother has more important things to do.
At the age of 25, Maddie is saddled with more responsibility than she should have, and her family nickname, Maame, becomes more of a stone around her neck than a bit of affection.
Maame means Mother, and she has become that far too early in her life.
Maddie also has to deal with microaggression at work, being the only black person in her company and finding that she is either overlooked or not understood.
This story shows the coming of Maddie, or at least the coming out of Maddie from Maame’s shadow.
She’s been so busy caring for her father and just allowing life to pass her by that when the opportunity arises for her to move out, thanks to her mother moving back home, she grabs the opportunity by the horns, complete with a list of things she needs to achieve to feel that she has finally graduated to a real adult.
Only life isn’t always that simple.
There is a clash of two cultures, the value of real friendship, being touted as the token POC in work, and within the dating community, too. And death and depression, too.
I know, first-hand, how mental health can be swept under the carpet in many cultural backgrounds, and this has been brilliantly explored by the author in this book, too. I truly enjoyed this.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 16th February, 2023

The Hub by Nicola May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed a few of Nicola May’s books and was intrigued to read this one.
I wasn’t disappointed!
August is an author with a bit of personal history that she is trying to put behind her. Moving back to where she grew up, from the busyness of London, she finds it hard to engage in her writing until she is introduced to The Hub and all its inhabitants or users.
And some of those slowly become good friends (and more).
There is plenty to laugh about in this book and some quite sad bits, but the story is well rounded, and the characters are so colourfully written that they lift off the page and dance around in front of you.
I want to see a turkey farm now, too, by the way!

This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You by Susan Rogers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting book about the psyche behind your favourite music, and why that may be the case.
Definitely one for the hardcore music fans.
Listening to the music and songs referred to in the chapters was good to deepen the experience.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 6th October, 2022

I managed 15, which isn’t too shabby!

So, tell me what you have been reading, and what caught your eye from the above!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 394 – Book Heaven

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“She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”

Annie Dillard

Thank you, Spidey, for finding another quote that suits me just fine!.

Firstly, sorry for posting late!

But, this, as you will see from the gist of my post, is where the above quote is relevant.

As soon as I start school in September, things begin to happen.

Life goes from a comfortable speed to powering ahead with me a the wheel of a large truck, trying to keep all my cargo safe.

  • my team and their wellbeing
  • my new class, and settling them into their new life in school
  • new initiatives and expectations to be implemented in school
  • my family and their various needs, be it being taxi mum to their emotional health and wellbeing
  • keeping house, even after long days (that ironing pile seems to double when we are working!)
  • having time for Hubby Dearest, who is juggling his own cargo load
  • giving Sonu Singh plenty of love
  • new pressures of keeping to a better budget with all these rising costs…
  • my own health and sanity, not helped by the onset of Perimenopause

As you can imagine, all this leaves me pretty shattered at the end of a typical working day.

It means that I have no energy left for my other passion which is my writing. I have editing to do. I have a new book to start plotting… But I don’t have the headspace or the time to do either.

What I won’t forgo, though, is my time with a good book.

Reading is like food for my soul. A moment to dip into the lives of others and to forget what is going on around me at any given moment.

It’s true that I read much less in the week, as I find I am asleep by 9.30pm, but I will always read a few pages at least before my eyes close.

My Kindle is brimming with at least 150 unread books that I have downloaded over the years, and my little trolley of unread books holds around 50 more physical books I have either been sent to read or have picked up on my visits to bookshops. My Amazon Wishlist has plenty more that I want to read… one day…

I don’t think I will ever reach the end of my TBR pile, virtual or otherwise, and I am not sad about that at all. It means that I will always have a tap of beautiful stories to turn on and sink into when I have nothing left to give to the world…

So, tell me, how many books are on your TBR?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 393 – Of Queues and the British

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“An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an ordely queue of one.”

George Mikes

Thank you, Spidey, for a little humour at this sombre time.

I think that if you have social media or access to a news channel or the internet, wherever you are on this planet, you will have heard of ‘The Queue’ or the ‘QueueEII’ (Not coined by me, but rather clever, don’t you think?)

The queue I am referring to is the queue all self-respecting Brits have been in training for all their lives.

It’s the queue that has stretched for 5 miles across London for those well-wishers who want to pay their respects to the late Queen, who is lying in state at Westminster Palace until before the funeral tomorrow.

People, including David Beckham (not one to push ahead, but wanting to pay his respects the way everyone who wishes to, should) are queueing for up to 17 hours, slowly walking at 0.1 miles an hour, shuffling towards the Palace, where they get a chance to personally pay their respects to our late Monarch.

It is the Queue of all queues. You get a wristband, you can’t save a place for others, there are toilets and water stations open along the way. If you wish to join, you are advised to bring food, drinks and blankets, and even stools to aid your wait. (Stops short at tents. No TENTS allowed!)

The Queue has its own YouTube channel and Twitter account and even its own weather mention!

It is a queue that has shown the most British of Britishness, where new friends are being made, and the general atmosphere is one of respect, and knowing they are part of a huge piece of modern British History in the making.

Some say the queue will be responsible for bringing Britain out of Brexit, and a part of the European Union again, as it stretches so far that France sees the latest to join the queue as it snakes onto their turf… (a little joke I read somewhere on Twitter!)

There was an accessible queue too, but that has now closed for any new joiners.

But, what an amazing show of respect from the people, not only of Britain but others who have come from other parts of the world, to do the same.

Charlie King 3, as one of my newest Reception students, told me he was called (I love it, King Charles the Third will always be Charlie King 3 to me from now on!) and the new Prince of Wales even came out to meet some of those at the front of the queue who had been there slowly moving all night, and they marvelled at the stoicism and will of those there, remarking that, had she witnessed it, the Queen would have truly appreciated this outpouring of love because that is exactly what it is.

Alas, I am not able to be a part of this queue, but I have all the channels on which to watch it happen in live action… And I will watch the emotional send-off, tomorrow, on TV at home.

So, are you good at queueing, or have you been a part of this historic Queue?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 392 – Traditions

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“It takes a tremendous amount of history to make even a little history.”

Henry James

Thank you, Spidey, for an apt quote.

So, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the Queen passed away, peacefully on Thursday.

A huge amount of sadness.

A country in mourning.

A family in mourning.

Yet there are still things that have to be done.

From the moment a monarch is crowned, the plan for their death is written. (Feels a bit morbid, to me, but I suppose, in order to allow everything to run smoothly, it’s a necessity.)

“London Bridge is down.” is quoted, and the wheels are put in motion.

The Royal family, government, broadcasters of the news, are all informed, in order to share the sad news.

And, while we are all mourning, there is the small job of ensuring the country is not without a monarch, so the rightful heir is proclaimed.

For most of the country, we have never experienced this, before. The Queen had been the longest reigning monarch in the UK, ever.

Seventy years, she has been in our lives, and suddenly, she was gone, leaving her eldest son, Charles, as the man to bear the weight and responsibility of being the new King of the UK, and head of The Commonwealth.

As tradition states, all the customs needed to be fulfilled to confirm his new role, so on Saturday, amid the sadness, we as a nation, and the world, watched, either by standing in crowds in London, or on TV and the internet, the accession to the throne of the new King Charles III.

A momentous event that has never before been witnessed by the public, took place at St. James Palace, where the Privy Council held a meeting and declared our new monarch the King.

Then, the public declarations began, and the firing of guns, to signal the same, began.

It was fascinating to watch an official tradition take place. Something that was done, for centuries, behind closed doors.

But, can I tell you what hit me, personally?

Seeing the blanket of sadness over the new King, and his son, Prince William, the new Prince of Wales.

It’s often easy to forget that even though they have these tremendous duties to uphold, they are still human, too.

We’ve lost a Queen.

They’ve lost a beloved mother, frandmother, great grandmother. Yet they have to fight that emotion, in order to take part in all the pomp and circumstance involved in the new monarch’s accession to the throne.

For a day, flags are flown at full mast, to celebrate the new King, before being lowered again, in respect.

I only hope that everytime they close their doors to the public eye, they are able to mourn as we would. As a family, united in grief.

It was heartwarming to listen to, or read, some of the tributes to our late Queen, by members of her family.

And though heartbreaking to witness, seeing certain members overcome by their emotions in public, whilst reading tributes left by the public made me think that hopefully certain traditions and expectations would bend slightly, now, to allow the Royal family to be viewed as human first, and Royal second.

So, how do you view traditions?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

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