Update Feb 2022

Hi Everyone!

AT HOME:

Looking forward to spring with the first signs cropping up. Planning to make a couple of changes in the garden. I’ve restarted acupuncture, but I’m not too hopeful. We survived the storms with only a bit of screen coming loose and a few garden ornaments lying down. As to what’s going on in the world, there’s nothing I can say about Ukraine that everyone else isn’t saying. Clearly this world will never be free of its Hitlers. Save us from the fanatical and lunatic fringe in charge.

Ended the month with the washing machine busting on me. Big bang. I went running and turned it off, first on the machine and then on the main switch as soon as the drum stopped. Soon as I could open the door, a tiny amount of smoke came out (from the drum rubbing, not an electrical fire). Everyone, please never leave the house with appliances running. I know some people do, but I never do, and this is why. It’s about 7 years old, which is probably a good life for a washing machine.

FILM/TV:

Still got to finish watching Castle, and Star Trek Next Gen, and the US version of The Office.

There’s not been a lot of offers film wise, but two I could mention are Nobody, starring Bob Odenkirk, which some may know from the incredible Breaking Bad series, and the Saul spinoff. It’s macho action but fun if you take it for what it is, and a delight for me was seeing Christopher Lloyd as the father.

Watched the critically acclaimed The Power of the Dog. This may not be a popular opinion, but I thought the acting superb, but the story a little blah, but that’s likely because I knew how it was going to end less than halfway through the film, so the shocker of an ending wasn’t there for me as it has been for others. I can’t help wondering if I would have guessed the outcome so easily, and whether I would have enjoyed the story more by reading the book. Or is this the writer’s curse?

READING:

Thud, Terry Pratchett

A less humorous book than many other Discworld novels, but so intelligent. There’s a lot of subtexts here covering government, racism, human nature, among others, with all the stupidity that comes along with these failings. An education in erudition with Sam Vimes, the teacher of the decade. And most of all, a book where every reader will root for Sam to get home on time to read ‘Where’s my Cow?’

Manhunting, Jennifer Crusie

Crusie is one of my favourite romance writers. Though not her best, this is a light and fun read. Crusie knows how to write the most witty banter and even makes arguments entertaining. And although the idea of a woman ‘on the hunt’ for a man may seem dated, she solves this by making Kate Svenson strong and independent. Crusie has written much better books than this, but it doesn’t feel like this deserves to be completely overlooked.

Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones

I’ve owned the sequel (middle book) to this trilogy for years, so when I realised it wasn’t the first book, I picked up books 1 and 3. Although it’s essentially a children’s book, I’m not above re-reading books I loved as a child or reading famous ones which I missed out on and this is one of those. I loved this. Yes, not all the characters are exactly likeable, but I could name more than a few characters from my childhood books that are far from perfect. There’s a lot of plot here, surprisingly so. The story gets a little snarled up in its own cleverness, but had I come across this as a child, I’m sure it would have been one of those I kept all these years. Howl is a bit of an egocentric, but not as clueless as he first appears to be. The castle is perhaps the best character in the book. I will say I’m uncertain what age group this is for. I could have read it aged around 8, but there are long words, some dated, that I’m unsure children today would know. A book some children may need help with. But this is a fabulous story that will stay with those who love it for years. (Side note: there are some notiable differences between the book and the film; I prefer the book.)

Castle in the Air, Diana Wynne Jones

At first, I was a little confused why this is a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s a completely different story and doesn’t directly feature any characters from the first book until about two-thirds in. The language is sophisticated for today, meaning there aren’t many adults let alone children who would know what mulct means. Some of the content I’m sure will seem a little stereotypical as it features a poor carpet seller, a rich sultan’s daughter, and a flying carpet. Yes, it’s somewhat generic of Aladdin, but characters known and loved from book one appear before the end with an interesting outcome.

House of Many Ways, Diana Wynne Jones

This features more new characters, though Howl and friends appear more heavily than they did in book two. Sophie and sidekick Waif (a dog) make a welcome appearance, though the strange house with its ‘two’ rooms and magical ways of twists and turns to find others is a fabulous character itself. Well worked out, and great fun. I felt the ending seemed a little too fast; still, this is not one to miss out on, though this is better than the second, but not as good as the first.

Strange Bedpersons, Jennifer Crusie

Wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this at first. Like Manhunting, it took a few pages to get into the story, but I like the juxtaposition of views and opposing lifestyles in this. It’s somewhat amazing the author makes a romance between such disparate people believable. The plot resolves well, and some disagreements leading up to a wonderful scene at a very public dinner table are a delight.

The Incredible Journey, Sheila Burnford

I’m revisiting some older loves, including childhood favourites, and remember devouring this book as a child. I freely admit I went through a phase of reading almost nothing but animal adventures, including this understandable classic. Although the references to using dogs as gun dogs were something I had to set aside then as much as now, the overall story of three animals overcoming adversity to reach home is one that touches many animal lovers, and remains unforgettable.

WRITING

Have done the edits on Sweet Temptations. Release still planned for March. Just waiting on the galley proof to read. As promised, here’s the first look at the blurb, which I’m really pleased with:

Brinley Delvaux loves to bake tempting treats that can change people’s lives. But when he moves to a quaint seaside town in order to alter his own, the last complication he needs is falling for Jack Brewer, a man whose sudden appearance messes up Brinley’s timetable to renovate the old Holberton place, as well as his plans for a quiet future.

Worse, Jack is a normal human, whereas Brinley is one of the Gifted, with powers most people cannot comprehend and which Brinley isn’t at liberty to share. Spending time with Jack is potentially dangerous for at least one of them, and Brinley’s seeking a quiet future separate from his past with the Gifted community.

There’s only one answer… to use his powers to solve the problem of Jack. Aside from some personal trauma, what could possibly go wrong?

Stay happy and healthy!

Sharon x