2 Books I read in September 2020

When I chose four library books I was looking for a mixture of light and more serious reading. The two books reviewed here are both fiction. The second one is a more serious book taking more time to be read.

Don't tell the Groom cover

Don’t tell the groom: Will Penny be able to keep her secret long enough to say I will? by Anna Bell

Don’t tell the groom was the book, about which I tweeted, ‘I accidentally read a book from cover to cover’. I had begun reading it in the car while I was waiting for hubby in the car park. I picked it up again after lunch and read to the end. Like It all began with a Tweet, which I reviewed earlier, this is a lighthearted amusing story with an underlying social problem as a key part of the story. In this case it is online gambling and the gambler’s web of deceit, which make the plot not just interesting but gripping right to the end. There are well-drawn characters and some puzzling things, which kept the pages turning as I wanted to discover the reasons behind them.

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

The Mermaid Chair cover

Having read and enjoyed other titles* by Sue Monk Kidd, I picked up The Mermaid Chair, a thought-provoking novel set in an imaginary location in South Carolina. The story explores issues of mental health, love, religion, superstition and life in close knit communities – family, an island, a monastery – using believable characters. The decisions faced by some of the characters make an interesting story with unexpected twists in the plot. As in all good novels the characters undergo a change in the course of the story.

An interview with the author and reading group questions were included in the paperback copy. I was interested to learn that Sue Monk Kidd attended Texas Christian University and is married to a theologian.

*Please click to read my review of The Invention of Wings. I also read Life of Bees before I began blogging about books.

An index of books I have reviewed may be found by clicking here (Authors A-M) and here (Authors N-Z).

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My 800th post on Sue’s Trifles

I was looking for inspiration for a post other than a book review this week, when I discovered that I have already published 799 posts on Sue’s Trifles; this is my 800th! It is also the 78th since this time last year. I have also added some more pages.

In the past I have occasionally written posts looking back and taking stock of what I have done. This  helps me to plan what I might write next.

Sue’s Trifles, as I was explaining the other day to a writer I had met for the first time, is my second blog. My first blog, Sue’s considered trifles, had a particular purpose. When I posted other material there it was not welcomed by some of my original followers. So I started a new blog. That was in March 2013.

Looking for additional ideas for posts, I searched for challenges and discovered I was just in time to take part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge. It was a steep learning curve, but I have taken part every year since then.

Perhaps the forty five new people who have followed my blog in the last 12 months (thank you!) would be interested in its history. (My other valued followers will no doubt have read any posts that caught their attention!) My What’s new? page is a record of my writing/blogging activities.

My inspiration for posts on this blog (other than A to Z, which I mentioned earlier)  has included writing prompts from WordPress’s the Daily Post, craft projects I have completed, social activities I have been involved with, books I have read and (for posts like this) my earlier blogging.

This may also be a good opportunity to share my reaction to reading my New Year ‘s post, which ended:-

To conclude, in 2019 I am going to try to

  • be more focused on my writing
  • communicate better with the people around me
  • listen more
  • be less irritable
  • improve my fitness by spending less time sitting down
  • use my skills to help other people
  • remember to trust God and not to rely on myself
  • rejoice in the Lord always Philippians 4:4

So how am I doing? I’d like to think that I am making progress at least some of the time. The last one brought me up short, though. There has been much sadness locally this year. A number of friends/spouses of friends have left this earthly life behind. Others are suffering. Perhaps my Bible verse should be, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn’. Romans 12:15 (NIV)

To end on a lighter note, there have been some amusing incidents, when I have been out and about. Two relate to my wild flower spotting activities.

When I was pointing my phone at a wall, a couple watched and the man said, “That’ll make a good photo!” I don’t always recognise sarcasm. In this case, I suspected it, but I explained that I was taking photos of flowers and asked them if they knew what they were. They didn’t, so I told them. They were probably underwhelmed.

A retired gentleman with walking sticks was stopping every few feet and leaning on the sea-defences. Hubby asked, “All right?” He replied, “I’m looking at the wild flowers.” On learning that I was also interested, he queried what a particular plant was. (It was a stunted specimen near the sea.) We chatted for a short time. He explained that he had taken up the study of wild flowers instead of his former hobby of bird spotting. His children used to frighten the birds!

If you’ve made it to this point – thanks for reading!

What else I read in October 2016

In my earlier post I mentioned that I had two library books.  I managed to finish reading both of them before the end of the month.  I did not find another book to borrow from the library.  Instead I decided to reread some books I have at home.  I read An Alien at St Wilfred’s by Adrian Plass from cover to cover on the last day of October.

The two library books I borrowed are A Walk along the Wall by Hunter Davies and The Making of Swallows and Amazons by Sophie Neville.  Both are non-fiction and relate to the 1970s.

Hunter Davies’ book has been republished several times. The issue I read had a new introduction and the appendix listing publications about Hadrian’s Wall had been brought up-to-date (about 10 years ago).  I chose the book because I have visited a few locations along the wall and Lanercost Priory, which was built from stones originally used for the wall.  Reading it gave me lots of background information.  I hope to be able to explore more of the wall in future.  The book is written in a conversational style by an author with an enquiring mind.  While it deals with history, archaeology and geography, it is a story of a series of meetings with people who live(d) or worked along the wall.  There is information about the landowning families of the counties of Northumberland and Cumbria.  I found it fascinating.

Sophie Neville played the part of Titty Walker in the film of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons in the early 1970s.  The Making of Swallows and Amazons is a very readable book compiled from her diary, that of the actress, who played Susan Walker, photos from the time and the memories of others involved.  An appendix includes information about what those involved in the film did subsequently.  There are many black and white photos and some in colour.  I am not sure whether I have watched the film of Swallows and Amazons on TV, but (as a child) I enjoyed the book and others by Arthur Ransome.  I also enjoyed The Painted Garden most of Noel Streatfield’s books.  It is the one about children making a film in Hollywood.  Technology has advanced, so that all sorts of special effects can be achieved nowadays.  In the 1970s there were many practical problems to be solved to achieve the desired effects.  I could go on, but I recommend that you read this book for yourself!

05-11-2016-1

An Alien at St Wilfred’s is fiction.  I have read it before, probably more than once.  I think it is my favourite of those books by Adrian Plass, which I have read.  Superficially it is about a vicar and organist, who do not get on well together.  But it is much more than that.  It is very funny in a gentle way.  Above all it is a hopeful book.