What Has Caramel Been Reading?

Well, I don’t usually write about the books I am reading or plan to read, but I will today in order to be able to respond to the lovely writing prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore.

These three are next on my list:

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Two of them are books created by bloggers within our fabulous blogging community.

The book in the middle Skelly’s Square (Part of The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles) was written by “Stephen Black”, the main man behind Fractured Faith Blog. I am really looking forward to reading Stephen’s book.

My most recent purchase was “Zion”, written by Ash Digest, who you might recognize by her blogging name rue202, the creator of Racheal’s Novels. I love reading her creative posts published on WordPress and I am very excited to have a copy of her book.

plodding.jpgAs for the other book on the left hand side of the photo, it is one of five books I picked up when I was out in Australia. Goldfinch and I went to an art sale at a local high school. I picked up five books from the book sale they had in one of the classrooms. They were five books that I didn’t expect I was going to enjoy. When it comes to fiction, I usually only read books written at least one hundred years ago. Probably 80-90% of my reading material is non-fiction. I love to learn about history, physics, and I am fascinated by travel books, especially from those who have lived in different countries, not just hopped off a cruise ship. I used to read a lot of medical related material, but I have had a year long break from anything health related. I hardly look at modern novels. But since I have bought the books written by other bloggers I have started to become more willing to try modern novels. I am a bit picky.

These three I have already read since I came back from Australia:

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Now, I don’t want to turn into a book critic. At the moment I am working on my first long fictional story and it is so much harder than I imagined, even though I am enjoying it. So I would hate to knock anther writer after all the effort they have put into their work.

I will say this though. I ended up loving the middle book “The Things We Do For Love” by Roisin Meaney. She weaved together the lives of so many characters and gradually the mist clears and you see the connections. I thought it was so clever. I reached the end of the book and just wanted it to carry on for another ten chapters. By that stage, I had become so engrossed with her style that I think I would have been happy for Roisin Meaney to grace my life every day!

reads.jpgThe other two books have one female who is the main character in the story. Both books felt like a Cameron Diaz movie. Now I will admit I did not warm to the main character in “Cure For The Common Break Up” by Beth Hendrick. It was a fun book. But it didn’t touch me, not at all. Even when a few layers are peeled back and you learn more about the main character, I still did not become fond of her. However, I did like the main male character. He actually sounded pretty perfect. I will say this though: after reading Beth Hendrick’s book, I thought to myself, I could write this kind of stuff. But now I know, it is not an easy task at all. Beth’s writing is really fun to read, I just did not feel any connection to the main character in this particular story.

curled upWhereas I was surprised at what happened to me while reading “Abby Road” by Ophelia London. For the first few chapters I was convinced I was not going to like the book, because I could not warm to the main character again. However, something changed, just past halfway point. She really grew on me. The more I understood her, the more I wanted her to have a happy ending. In fact I was so worried about her that I had to read the last chapter three times to convince myself that it was alright to put the book down and move on to my next book. So although, I almost gave up after the first few chapters, I ended up really really enjoying the book overall.

These are some of the other books I have already read this year, all from bloggers who you are probably familiar with:

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The three top books were all written by Teresa Grabs, I had another of her books, but I think I lent to a friend, so I don’t have a photo of it. Teresa has been known to us as The Haunted Wordsmith, but sadly she closed down her WordPress account after the plagiarising scandal involving Tygress recently. I was really grieved because Teresa has been a massive support and encouragement for so long, and she is a very talented and productive writer. Well, although she might not be blogging on WordPress at the moment, I am hoping very much that she continues writing. I will be buying her books whenever she releases them.

I loved “Climbing Over Grit”, a very moving story based on the real life of the mother of beautiful Laleh Chini, the creator of A Voice from Iran. I think the success Laleh has had with her book is testament to her writing and this account really grabbed my attention and touched me deeply.

Newbury2I used to live near a town named Newbury out in Berkshire. The writer of “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller” is Martin Strike, creator of The Newbury Short Story Teller. Martin has published a brilliant book with tales of the peculiar kind of folk you might cross paths with if you spent time in Newbury. I loved it because it took me back to my life in Newbury. I found myself having lots of chuckles and a good amount of belly-rumbling outbursts of laughter. Great book. Great characters. Such fun!

I have recently purchased a paperback copy of:

Psych Meds Made Simple: How & Why They Do What They Do

“Psych Meds Made Simple” by Ashley Peterson, the creator of Mental Health @ Home, is a book I am planning to take to work with me, because..I have made a few changes in my life recently so that I can spend more time in Wales. One of those changes means that I will be doing bank work. I will be able to say yes or no to work offered to me by agencies. Yes, I am dipping my feet back into healthcare after a whole year away from it. I ordered Ashley’s book through Amazon, but I am still waiting for it to arrive.

Now, if you are a writer, and you are wondering why I have not yet bought your book, it is probably for one of two reasons:

  • either I don’t know anything about your book(s), it has escaped my notice that you have published something we can buy, or
  • your book is not (yet) available in paperback. I can’t figure out how to read Kindle versions on my lap-top. It has been explained to me but I am a technophobe, and I read when I am trekking all over London, so I need paperbacks I am afraid.

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This was my post in response to the writing prompt from

Writing Prompt #33

Page After Page

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I have always read a mix of information books, science, history and scripture and have also read novels for pleasure. I have decided to make my favourite novels the subject of this post rather than my favourite books on physics!

I like the classics. I don’t read a lot of modern novels at all. I have read many of the classics several times, and enjoy going back to them and discovering something I had not noticed before.

I have a few favourites, but whether I will start reading them depends on my mood very much. If I have a lot on my mind and need something light-hearted and cheery, I would probably choose Jane Austen, because I know her stories will divert me and cheer me up.

I have read her six main novels several times and two of them I have read a lot. I have read “Pride and Prejudice” many times (I don’t know exactly how many times, but at least ten times).

But even more often, I have read my personal favourite Jane Austen novel “Persuasion”. I love it. I adore Anne Elliot! She stands out amidst so many pompous or frivolous characters. It must be so difficult to feel the man she loves views her with bitter resentment, and that he cannot forgive her for letting him down. From the very start I want her to have a happy ending. However, Jane Austen leaves me in agony right to the very end!

There are two dramatisations I have also watched repeatedly, one with Amanda Root playing Anne, and the other with Sally Hawkins. I absolutely love both of these actresses, and am so pleased they have played one of my favourite characters. This is a trailer from the more recent dramatisation with Sally Hawkins playing Anne Elliot.

Jane Austin is always my first choice for easy-going, light-hearted stories with happy endings.

However, there are times, when I am hungry for a book that is more epic, more of a feast. I indulge in page after page of vivid description and detailed scene setting! I save these for times when I have a lot less on my mind, because when I read one of these books I have to immerse myself into them for the longer period of time it takes to read them.

These are a few favourites which I have read several times and I love the action and drama and deep emotions the characters experience. For some reason my favourites are novels written against the backdrop of French history. Here are my favourite novels for when I can face immersing myself in dramatic tales.

“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo. I had started this novel for the first time believing it to be a romance. I was so wrong! It is hard for me to convey how much the book contains, because I feel I cannot do it justice. It is an incredibly epic story of the lives of people effected by injustice and suffering, touched by acts of unselfish kindness and benevolence, the battle between bitterness and hope, despair and faith, and the yearning for true peace of mind and security.

I love the rich descriptions of life and people. The great debates within the souls of the main characters Jean Val-Jean and of course the turmoil Inspector Javert faces on contemplating how his blinkered rigid views have in fact blinded him and misled him. His realization makes him despairing. The stories of the familiar characters Fantine, Pont-Mercy, Jean Val-Jean, the Thenadier family, Cosette, Marius are so moving and fascinating.

It is one of my favourite books because I find myself diving into a world of people, and although they are fictional characters, they are believable, because we know how much injustice and suffering there has been for centuries. Stories of individuals facing the frustrations of injustices, whose paths all cross during the scenes that develop around the barricade. The setting for this book being the very real upheaval in French history, the injustices and hardship experienced by the poorest. It is all so provoking and makes you feel so much for these fictional characters who were facing unfairness and frustrations which have been very real for millions if not billions of humans.

Very recently the BBC showed a six part dramatisation starring Dominic West as Jean Val-Jean. I thought they did a great job – I have not seen all of the episodes but the first two I saw were excellent.

“The Three Muskateers” by Alexandre Dumas – I enjoyed the whole series culminating in “The Man In The Iron Mask”. The reason I loved these books is the jam-packed action. So very different from Jane Austen! I was reading these books and found myself literally “on the edge of my seat” with the excitement of what was going to happen next.

There is one chapter in “The Man In The Iron Mask” that sums up the drama and action so well.  The chapter is called “The White Horse and The Black”. D’Artagnan is chasing Fouquet.  I was in agony reading this horse chase.

It’s not just the action involved. It’s the motivation behind the actions of each of the musketeers. D’Artagnan is so loyal to the king. Aramis is so moved by what he sees as a great injustice. The way the book plays out with these four musketeers showing their characters and qualities right to the end is an amazing read. I have seen countless film versions featuring the musketeers. Even when they vary greatly from the book, I think they do a great job at conveying the action and excitement of the stories. But I do like to have the original Alexandre Dumas stories to compare them to.

Which brings me to another favourite also written by Alexandre Dumas. I loved the book “The Count Of Monte Cristo”. What a story!

At the start of the book, it seems that the main character,  Edmond Dantès, has a lot to look forward to. But he suffers a terrible injustice when he is accused of treason and then sent to prison without a trial.

I think in the book Chapter 89 was the point when my heart broke the most. Don’t go and read it without reading the rest of the book first – it won’t mean as much to you at all!

The book has so much that most dramatisations cannot possibly pack into their versions. I think I saw one version with Gérard Depardieu which had a lot more of the book than any other effort I have seen. However, I will say this, I like that some versions have captured the spirit of the book, even if they do completely change the ending! Some years ago Jim Caviezel played the role of Edmond Dantès in a movie version which I did enjoy. Different ending and they did not have a large enough canvas to include so many characters from the book. But still very exciting!

Two trailers for dramatisations of “The Count Of Monte Cristo”, both of which have taken liberties with the book, however, the version with Gérard Depardieu has a lot more of the book in it which is perhaps due to it being a much longer version:

So…that was a list of some of my favourite novels:

Jane Austen: “Persuasion” and “Pride And Prejudice”

Victor Hugo: “Les Mierables

Alexandre Dumas: “The Three Musketeers” series and “The Count Of Monte Cristo”

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How about you…what are your favourite books? It would be great to see a post from you. Please ping back to the original prompt from Sarah Elizabeth Moore below:

Writing Prompt #7

Supporting The Best Bloggers Out There

I think it’s safe to say that we all enjoy blogging, because if we did not, we would have long since popped our blog clogs – would we have not? For those of us who are still blogging and enjoying it – are there any bloggers that wonder if it might one day be possible to go on to publish a book? Or several books? If we did – would we hope that perhaps our blogging buddies might extend their support by forking out and buying our book?

It seems fairly obvious that we may have all had different reasons to start blogging. Some of us have been surprised that there seems a real nice crowd of bloggers out there who either inspire us with challenges and writing prompts, or give to us a big dollop of daily encouragement which helps us to flourish in the blogging world.

I have been blogging since the very end of April – almost seven months now and one of the first bloggers I came across, and received great advice and encouragement from right from the start, is Teresa Grabs the creator of the site The Haunted Wordsmith.

Many of you will already know Teresa. She is a true writer. I have said this before about her – PROLIFIC!!! Boy can she write! She clearly has a remarkable mind that just keeps on creating perfect flash fiction and full length novels. But it’s not just the sheer amount of stories she comes up with. She is a clever writer. She is an expert at endings with an unexpected twist. Or she writes stories with an almost fable-like quality, which make you think again about the world we live in and motivations of people.

Now, I would have thought for any bloggers who are true writers with a creative talent, that compiling your work into the form of a book and publishing it, would be the icing on the cake of all the hours you have put in to producing great stories. As far as I know, Teresa has published three books (correct me if I am wrong please Teresa!) and I have bought all three, including Teresa’s recently released novel, in paperback form from Amazon.

My initial reason for buying the first of her books “Tales From the Haunted Wordsmith” was that after all the support and encouragement and inspiration from Teresa’s stories, writing challenges and her comments on my work – I figured that it was the least I could do to support her writing career by buying one of her books. Surely, the best way to support a blogger you think is superb is to buy their book and tell all your friends about it!

I loved it! I put it straight into my work bag and it was at work that I read it during my break times. The book is perfect for those who read in short bursts during travel or breaks. The stories vary in length, from a page to several pages.

I will be honest, because I don’t like ghost stories, I was a bit hesitant about ordering Teresa’s book because with a title including the word “haunted” that is what I thought it would be. But the book is exactly what it says on the cover “multi-genre”. Which I love. Every story has a fresh feel from the one before. But time and again the way she finished a story made me smile – so many unexpected endings. This is typical Teresa Grabs style. She is a clever woman! I also loved the stories which make you think again about “things” – why people do what they do, or think the way they think.

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I have my favourites. I started to fold the corners down on each of my favourites (my grandfather would be shocked – he never allowed us to fold corners, books were sacred to him). But looking at my copy of Teresa’s book now…I think the first page of almost half of the stories have their corners folded down.

Anyway…I am very grateful for all of Teresa’s support since I have been blogging. I am thrilled that she is publishing her work. It feels great to be able to support a great blogger by buying her book.

In order to obtain a copy of one of Teresa’s books for yourself, you need to travel all the way to Brazil and trek through the Amazon rain-forest, wading through the jungle in the hope that no poisonous snakes or scorpions find you first.

No!!! It’s so much easier than that! I just clicked onto the Amazon website and typed in “Teresa Grabs” and her books appeared. Or you could type in the specific title of the book you think will interest you most.

I have included a link below to Amazon.uk for us Brits:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tales-Haunted-Wordsmith-Multi-genre-Collection/dp/1983008486/ref=sr_1_5?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1542924577&sr=8-5&keywords=teresa+grabs

Reflected Echo

These are the other two of Teresa’s books I have bought recently and I would highly recommend to you.

I would certainly recommend Teresa’s books, her blogging, and her writing challenges to all other bloggers.

For bloggers who are talented creative writers and publish their work as a book, we as members of the blogging community can be a superb support in promoting and advertising the books of our favourites. We can become a fantastic marketing team and help promote the books of other bloggers, by means of social media, and by our enthusiasm when we tell people what we have been reading recently.

I have been showing Teresa’s books to friends and  workmates, and will take them up to Wales when I see my family at the end of December. There is a local book club that meet in the restaurant round the corner from my little nest and since a couple of my friends attend (to be honest I am terrified of them because it’s more of a wealthy wives club, and I normally try to make sure I am not on their gossip radar), my next mission is to introduce Teresa Grabs’ books to them. There is a newspaper journalist who lives a few doors down from here. I keep wondering if during one of our morning chats, I might slip in how much I enjoyed Teresa’s book.

Well…

…all of us play an important role in the blogging community. By reading each other’s posts, liking and commenting, we provide enormous encouragement to other bloggers. I am sure that like me, you have found that bloggers notice your support and they seek out your posts to encourage you also.

For those amongst the blogging community who are publishing their work, I think it would be a very fine thing for as many as possible of us to extend our support to not just their blogs, but their books. By all means buy one for yourself. But…even better, talk about it, show your friends and if you are bold like me, invade the local book club too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/11/23/random-quotes/

 

 

 

The Shimmering Jane Ridgewood Has Nominated Me For The Sunshine Blogger Award

I have been nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by the talented writer and blogger Jane Ridgewood as you can see from her post below:

Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

Just in case you are not familiar with this blogging award, here is a reminder of the rules that come with it:

The Rules

• Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to them – thanks Jane!
• Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
• Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
• Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.
• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

Jane’s questions to her nominees:

01. What are you currently reading right now and are you enjoying it?
Life in River Hollow: A Short Story Collection

Ooooh I am so glad you asked! I am a huge fan of brilliant blogger Teresa Grabs aka The Haunted Wordsmith.

Recently, I bought two books from Amazon that were written by Teresa. The first I loved…and I am working on a book review (I have not attempted a book review since I was at high school so it is taking me ages to perfect it).

I have just started reading the second book I bought “Life In River Hollow” and yes, I certainly am enjoying it. I absolutely love Teresa’s flash fiction. I think she is a huge talent and I wish her every success in her writing. She seems to be an endless fountain of ideas and I love the twists she consistently throws in to her short stories.

02. On average about how many books do you read a year?

ringwormThat has changed a lot. I was working in healthcare and I had to read a huge amount of training books and manuals to keep myself updated. I had to keep a record of my reading and I still have it. Here is a friendly looking training booklet. A lot of what I have read was rather grim.

I am going to go and count how many medical books I read in the twenty months I worked directly with patients in healthcare in a role where I had to offer advice on minor ailments and lifestyle habits. Right I have just counted – I read 176 medical training books and manuals in twenty months. Sigh!

Because of all the reading for work I had to wade through, my reading for pleasure dwindled, but for pleasure I have read the classics “Heidi” (Johanna Spyri), “Persuasion” (Jane Austen) and “Howard’s End”  (E. M. Forster) and also “Me Before You” (JoJo Moyes) in the past year.

03. When was the last time you sent a handwritten letter in the mail?

lettersI still do so regularly. I write handwritten letters to family, friends and Goldfinch. The last handwritten letter I posted was on Thursday.

Although I do use e-mail a lot (especially for family and friends who live in other lands) I love a hand-written letter.

04. Do you know how to write and read in cursive?

Yes…I love cursive handwriting. Reading and writing in it.

I loved that at school I recognized everyone’s handwriting. When I receive a letter in the post, I can usually tell by the way they have written my name and the postal address I use, who has sent it to me.

05. How do you feel about schools having stopped teaching cursive?

I did not realize that schools have stopped teaching cursive. Is that in America? I can’t imagine children in England not learning cursive or joined up handwriting. But I guess some may feel it is no longer necessary in this modern technological era.

06. What is your favourite holiday?

My brother-in-law’s family try to have a massive family get-together once a year. They have it in the summer and have a BBQ and massive buffet feast. There are sports, games to include everyone (all ages) and lots of laughing. Bear in mind there are at least one hundred of them.

 

Other than weddings and funerals, it’s the only time the entire tribe can be together at the same time. Milly says they call it Family Day. I think it is a fabulous idea. I have only been there for it twice and had so much fun. I loved the chance to get to know members of my brother-in-law’s family I had not met before.

That is what holidays are all about – being with those you love. Being able to relax and have fun and enjoy lovely food together.

07. Do you have any fun Halloween traditions?

No, none at all. I have nothing to do with it.

I have heard that it tends to be fairly popular in the the USA. It is still not that popular in England compared to some other holidays. Throughout my school years there was no mention of it. The first I heard of it was when I lived in an area where there are lot of stone circles and a henge. But it was not observed the way I think it is in America. There was a very different atmosphere.

vandalismAt one stage when I was living in a town with lots of families, I was shocked at how many front doors were covered with eggs. flour, paint, soil the day after Halloween. One year some youths demolished all of the drain pipes on the terraces houses in one street and vandalised every single car. There was a community project to build a flower garden for people to go and relax in. One Halloween a gang completely destroyed it, trampling all the plants and setting fire to the benches. When I lived in that town, I decided to just go away for a holiday to escape the terror. It was too disturbing.

What was heart breaking was how many cats and other animals were mutilated on Halloween. One year the local newspaper reported the remains of forty cats who had clearly met their demise by human hand were found. The police said some of what they found appeared to be some kind of “sacrifice”, which is one of the practices I saw evidence of in that town. My sister keeps her cat indoors for a whole week because during “Bonfire Night” or “Guy Fawkes Night” which is a few days after Halloween, some kids would try to attach a firework to cat’s tails. The photo here is of one of the cats that sadly did not survive the cruelty of some thugs who tied a firework to it’s tail.

I find all sorts of cultures and traditions fascinating, but Halloween has had me baffled since I realized what goes on that night. I don’t understand how people could be so cruel. I just don’t understand Halloween. Neither the encyclopedia explanation of how it originated nor the acts of terror carried out against people. The only tradition I have had is helping older neighbours to clean up all the mess the day after Halloween and debating what to report to the police.

I can only guess that America celebrate some kind of Disney-fied version of Halloween because otherwise how could it be so popular? Unless you don’t like cats or your neighbours? I am guessing Halloween in America is all candy and pie and “harmless fun” and fancy dress parties and watching creepy movies. That is not what I have seen of it in the areas it is popular here. I think that is what retail chains are trying to promote. That just about sums up a lot of holidays now…a big commercial bonanza.

08. Tell me one random fact about you that others may find odd.

ironingI love ironing! Love it!

Ironing is not just a chore to me, I actually look forward to it and enjoy it. I feel a great sense of calm descend over me and find instant satisfaction in it. I love all cleaning and house-keeping tasks really. But ironing is my favourite.

09. Have you ever given advice to someone else that you did not follow yourself?

Probably…let me think about this one.

AmbulanceHmm…how about don’t go to the park on your own…!!! Yikes! I mean how many times have I lectured friends when they have first moved to London on their personal security? Then I completely lost my senses and put myself in a dangerous situation…and well, as I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I woke up the next morning in an ambulance on my way to hospital!

10. What is your favourite activity in the fall season?

I guess walking in the woods with friends (especially Goldfinch) and seeing the pretty colours of the trees and then after being outside in the crisp air, heading back somewhere warm for a huge cuppa and some hot buttered toast….if it is really chilly, throw in a steaming hot bowl of soup – yum!

11. What kind of music do you enjoy listening to the most?

Oh deary…how hard to answer that question. My taste in music is very diverse. Because I am so in love with the adorable Goldfinch, I love listening to love songs.

I think if I had to pick my favourites to listen to…it would be a mix between the crème de la crème of karaoke crooners from the sixties mainly and movie soundtracks. Here is one that I have had in my head all day and I am loving it!

My questions for my nominees:

(A lot of my questions are food orientated, because I am hungry! I have not eaten because I am on my way to a ceilidh tonight and will be dancing for the rest of the night!)

  1. WHAT IS YOUR OWN FAVOURITE POST FROM YOUR SITE OR THE ONE YOU WOULD RECOMMEND READERS CHECK OUT FIRST?
  2. COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM CAKE?
  3. IF YOU COULD INVITE ANYONE ROUND FOR DINNER – WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
  4. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TIPPLE?
  5. DO YOUR FRIENDS KNOW ABOUT YOUR BLOG SITE?
  6. DO YOU EVER FEEL DISCOURAGED ABOUT BLOGGING?  WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?
  7. WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MEMORY OR EXPERIENCE?
  8. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CELEBRITY CHEF OR BAKER?
  9. ARE YOU A VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN, AND IF SO, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SO?
  10. WHEN YOU HAVE TIME WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BREAKFAST?
  11. IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE PERFECT DAY – WHERE WOULD IT BE? WHO WOULD YOU BE WITH? WHAT WOULD YOU EAT?  (That is several questions rolled into one – but we would love to know what would make a perfect day to you.)

My nominees:

A Slice Of Caramel’s Life

Melanie, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind is hosting “SHARE-YOUR-WORLD” and she has another fascinating list of questions for us:

https://sparksfromacombustiblemind.com/2018/10/22/share-your-world-10-22-18/

QUESTIONS FOR THIS WEEK:

Name two books that have influenced you and share how.  (Credit for this question goes to Teresa of The Haunted Wordsmith. She asked for TEN books, in her challenge, so the SYW folks got off a bit easy..) 

I am going to stick to the two required, because I am hoping to finish a post I started with my list off ten books that have influenced me.

When I was seven, going on eight, years old,  I had been allowed to borrow a book from the school library for the six week summer holidays.  It was Heidi.  The headmaster had told me that I must be sure not to lose it, I must bring it back at the end of the holidays or else I would not be allowed to borrow a book again.  I took his warning seriously. I read that book over and over that summer. I loved the story of Heidi so much.

Can you imagine how devastated I was when my Dad broke the news one morning….our school (which by now I had grown to love) had been burnt down by three boys? It was completely destroyed. Two were fourteen years of age and the other had just finished year 6 – he must have been eleven.  I still remember his name, but not the other two boys.  I always treasured my copy of Heidi because it was a piece of my old school. The Headmaster was touched when I showed him I had kept it safe. He asked me to look after it because it had become a very special book. When I left home at the age of twenty-five, I realized there was no way I could take my huge book collection with me. But my special copy of Heidi is a book I could not abandon. Even now it is in my bed-side table. I have been looking after it for almost thirty years.

depressionMy Dadda was utterly lost in his life.  He had made some bad decisions which had consequences that would tie him for the rest of his life.  He was intensely sad.  His father had died in childhood as well as two of his siblings.  He had many questions.  He was disillusioned with those he thought he could get help from, including religious teachers who had fobbed him off with nonsense when he asked them questions. He was dismayed by religious hypocisy. He had gambling debts. He used to get extremely stressed and was easily provoked and would become inflamed with fury.

Russian-Bible-photoMy Dadda read the scriptures for himself, they answered his questions…and motivated him to change his personality and stop his harmful habits. He became a loving husband and father.  He is one of many I know who have made changes after reading this book, however, the changes he made directly effected my life as a small child and meant that my parents would ensure I had access to the best education available. I know some people have strong feelings against this book, yet it remains the most widely distributed and translated book in all human history. Seeing the wonderful effect it had on my Dadda and our family is just one reason why I respect it immensely.

Two very special books to me….for deeply personal reasons. Whether you like them or not, you can’t doubt me for my sincere appreciation and regard for their influence on my life.


In your opinion, where is the line between art and not art? 

I am probably one of the worst people to answer this question because so much art is wasted on me, especially modern art or abstract art. I should have asked Goldfinch to help me with this one.

I do wish I knew more about art and had more ability myself. I gave up on drawing or painting myself when my art teacher at high school gave me poor marks for everything I attempted. I kind of lost interest. So I feel I am rather a dimwit when it comes to understanding art that is not plainly obvious to me.

Years after I left school, I went to an exhibition of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I took my time and looked at every single display and read the information plaque with each exhibit. I really enjoyed myself. It was the first time I had become interested in any kind of art again.

I visited other art galleries when I had the chance, but often wandered around feeling quite lost, even perplexed, because I didn’t understand why what I was looking at was in a public gallery and I was unmoved by what I was seeing.

Later, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. I enjoyed myself so much. There was a fascinating display about poignant journalistic photography. I can’t remember everything I saw, but it was scenes such German and English politicians sharing a cup of tea prior to the outbreak of the second world war. Each photo was extraordinary to glimpse because they captured a moment that seemed so ironic considering the historical events that followed. It was a very clever exhibition that was very provoking.

But what I really enjoyed was American landscape paintings. I finally found something that made my heart jump. I think that is when I realized that for me, the art I personally respond to is when someone can capture the majestic grandeur of nature.

What touches my heart is the art I already see in the sky as the sun rises or sets, the art I see every May when gardens here start to erupt into an exquisite cocktail of colours, the art I am rewarded with when I walk up a fell range and the view makes my heart leap. I love the art in nature. And in all honesty, my favourite art on display in galleries are paintings capturing the wonder and marvel of nature in splendid detail. The artist that can capture the wonders of nature…I am going to pay to go and see their exhibitions in galleries and buy their paintings for my little nest.

But I totally respect that art is like music – there are many different genres and some art will speak to one audience but not to another. Personally, I feel I am a bit of an ignoramus when it comes to art. Goldfinch loves art. He would probably give you a much better answer to this question than I have.


What is something that really annoys you but doesn’t bother most people? 

What annoys me? I am not easily annoyed. I think the things that would annoy me, like racism, wilful ignorance or being belligerent and dogmatic, mocking someone else’s treasured beliefs, someone who thinks they deserve “better treatment” because they are wearing designer clothes or a flashy watch, would probably annoy most people.

I guess I am annoyed by people who have little consideration for fellow humans and lack respect for those with a different culture or outlook. Poor manners and behaviour like the examples I have mentioned make me cringe, and it is a challenge for me at times to remain silent. Words come into my head at times, but, hey, who am I to go around belittling eeeeeed-yats?!!! Better just to live by principles I admire, consideration for others and respect and dignity towards a member of my human family.

Hmm…well there is one thing that I find a little annoying. There is a store here that I really like. I tend to go there to buy underwear. (No pictures for this subject!…well, a thermal sock, that will have to suffice.) Now every time I go to the counter they want me to sign up for a store card.

Now I don’t have any problem with store cards, loyalty cards etc. I have worked in retail, and I know that the little information store cards can gather about their customers can help them make effective and efficient decisions when it comes to marketing and supplying which products to which stores. I don’t have any problem with a shop or business offering store cards, loyalty cards etc.

But the store I mention, their store card is a credit card. I don’t want any kind of credit card, loan, mortgage. I want to avoid debt until my dying day. I have seen the effect it can have on people. I had a credit card when I was twenty-one (it was handy when I was travelling to have a credit card) and I decided credit cards are not for me.

Every time I go to this store, the assistants try really hard to convince me to sign up for their store credit card and I explain over and over, I don’t want any kind of credit.  It becomes a bit embarrassing because they try so hard to convince me and I don’t like being difficult. I know those assistants are just doing what they have been asked to do by management. But I am resolute, I want to live in the black, not the red. It’s a personal choice, some people are fine with juggling credit and are pleased to have a good credit score. But it’s not for me.


Instead of our usual gratitude question, I’m posing this one for this week:

What or who in your life brings you the most joy?

I have a wonderful family…really wonderful. I have a wonderful world of friends. But because I am very soon going to lose him, I will mention the man I met one year ago who has been bringing me great joy…of course, my wonderful Goldfinch!

The past few years have been turbulent for me. The excruciatingly painful situation that dragged on with my ex-flatmate wore me down and caused me deep distress. Waking up one morning finding myself in an ambulance on the way to hospital after being the victim of a crime that has turned my life upside down. I had been feeling low. I was finding it really hard to imagine being happy in love again because I was so edgy and cautious around the men who tried to date me.

Then I met Goldfinch…and everything was right. Bless him, he had a mighty nose-bleed last night at the most inopportune time! He was embarrassed. I don’t know if he has any idea how special to me memories like that are going to be for years to come. You should see how enormous my smiles become when I am with him. I am a smiler anyway…but my smiles are even bigger with him.

The Brilliant Tom Burton Has Nominated Me For The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Tom Burton the creator of Slumdog Soldier has very kindly nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award as you can see in his post below:

https://slumdogsoldier.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/sunshine-blogger-award/

As you can see from Tom’s post, The Sunshine Blogger Award has some rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them. -THANK YOU TOM!
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.
1. Where are you from?

I am originally from the North of England.  I grew up on the outskirts of Liverpool.

Currently I live in London.

2. What animal would you best describe as your spirit animal?

I am not sure what a spirit animal is. But I like animals.

I admire ants…because of their incredible co-ordination as a work force. I find horses and giraffes inspiring. I like anything cute…you know fluffy bunnies and the like. I am jealous of birds, flying through the skies. Or butterflies with such beautiful wings. I would love to be allowed to hibernate all winter like a bear. There is something about elephants that makes me happy. I have always loved frogs, I have always loved whales, I am absolutely fascinated by them.  I would love to be able to study them and understand all of their ways.

 

3. What’s your favourite season of the year and why?

Summer…

 

…because I live!

4. What’s your favourite book (or book series)?

I am going to have to give you three of my favourite fictional books.

persuasion     Les Mis     the count of monte cristo

5. What’s your favourite film, TV show, and song?

la vita e bellaI have a few favourite movies, but there is one which lingers with me as absolutely brilliant. The film is “La Vita E Bella” (“Life Is Beautiful”).

I don’t watch much TV, but I have been trying to keep up with the current series of “The Great British Bake Off”.

Favourite song….ooooooh that is incredibly difficult. If you have read other posts of mine, you probably have an idea how diverse my music tastes are. But there is a song, which I loved back in the days I worked for the record company and still love because I think the lyrics are clever. It is an iconic Britpop song and whenever I saw the band play live, the crowd went crazy when this song was played.

“….tore up all you photos

didn’t feel too clever

spent the whole of Sunday

sticking you together…”

6. How do you like to wind down after a busy day?

ironing

As soon as I arrive back at the little nest, I start to unwind.  I like to potter round, making myself a little something to munch. I like to catch up with my ironing (there is also something that needs ironing).

Once my tasks are completed, I like to ring a family member or friend, reply to e-mails from family and friends.  And of course, I like catching up with posts from bloggers on WordPress.

7. If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

Listen to your Mumma and Dadda! And stop worrying so much Kiddo! You are alright!

8. Why did you start writing a blog?

love letterWell it all started with this:

He told me he was captivated by by letters!

He suggested I start a blog.  “What’s a blog?” said I.

And here we are…a long time has passed since then, but I am following his suggestion and I am enjoying it more than I ever imagined.

I wrote a bit more detail about what led to the start of this blog in these posts:

9. What do you hope to achieve for 2019?

Every day of life is special. I hope to remain alive throughout the year! My head injuries being such a concern to everyone…I don’t take it for granted that I am alive.

My goal is not just stayin’ alive…but also walking through life with a skip and a bounce in my step!

10. What have you enjoyed most about blogging so far?

Two things…coming into contact with some wonderful bloggers who produce remarkable stories, poems and some very inspirational personal accounts.

The other thing I have enjoyed is finding a way to express things that were locked up away within my heart.

11. What would your best blogging tip be?

Hey…enjoy it! It is supposed to be fun, don’t become stressed or discouraged by statistics.

Enjoy writing or producing your style of posts…don’t compare yourself to others, but do connect with them. The success of blogging is mostly down to mutual support and encouragement.

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Well that was fun Tom – great questions!

Here are my eleven questions for my eleven nominees:
  1. DO YOU EVER FEEL DISCOURAGED ABOUT BLOGGING?  WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?
  2. WHAT IS YOUR OWN FAVOURITE POST FROM YOUR SITE OR THE ONE YOU WOULD RECOMMEND READERS CHECK OUT FIRST?
  3. DO YOU ENJOY CAMPING OUT IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS?
  4. DO YOU ENJOY PLAYING OR WATCHING SPORT?  IF SO, WHICH SPORTS?
  5.  DO YOUR FRIENDS KNOW ABOUT YOUR BLOG SITE?
  6.  WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MEMORY OR EXPERIENCE?
  7. WHICH SONGS WOULD YOU SING IN THE SHOWER WHEN YOU THINK NOBODY CAN HEAR?
  8. IS ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY A BLOGGER OR VLOGGER?
  9. IF YOU WERE BEING A TOURIST FOR A DAY IN LONDON – WHERE WOULD YOU VISIT?
  10. COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM CAKE?
  11. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TV DETECTIVE?
Here are my eleven nominees:

This is a little way of saying thank you for your wonderful support and encouragement!

My Dusty Flip-Flops Has Nominated Me For The Entertainer Blogger Award! And It’s Not For My Singing…It’s For My Blogging!

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“The Entertainer Blogger Award” is one blogger nominating a fellow blogger whom he or she finds fun, inspiring and entertaining.  As far as I can see, it’s a great way to encourage each other and get to know more about who is behind the posts you are enjoying.

I have been nominate by mydustyflipflops as you can see below in her fascinating post:

https://mydustyflipflops.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/the-entertainer-blogger-award/

My Dusty Flip-Flop is a very lovely traveller who has been to places I would love to go to one day.  I love reading about her travels and seeing her photos.  She is also a very encouraging and supportive blogger.  She is one of the first people who commented on my posts and I am very grateful for her kind comments.

_____________________

There are some specific instructions in connection with this award:

Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you to add the link to their blog
  • Add the rules so others can follow
  • Answer the same questions
  • Nominate people who you find fun, inspiring and entertaining!
  • Include the graphic in your post

 

______________________

So here we go with the questions:

Why did you start blogging in the first place?

lettersI have been writing and receiving letters and e-mails since I learnt to write.  In fact I  still possess thousands of beautiful letters that I have received over the years.  I also have never deleted a personal e-mail.  I wrote long letters full of personal details and accounts of the antics my family members and friends were involved in.  In recent years many of my friends have said, you should start a blog.  I was not keen on the idea at all, it seemed like a waste of time doing something trivial when I could be spending those precious moments on more important things.

One of my friends, who has a well established blog, set me up on WordPress,  posting some of his favourites from a collection of short stories I had sent him.  I could not believe it when people started reading and sending me lovely comments.  What has encouraged me to keep going is the feedback and encouragement of other bloggers.  I kind of feel as if I am writing to friends that I have recently met.

AmbulanceI have also found it helpful as I had a challenging situation to deal with some time ago.  At the time, I found it overwhelming.  It lead to me going to a park on my own one night instead of going home.  That night, I was the victim of a crime that has temporarily removed me from the life I love. Sometimes I have found it hard to talk about what happened.  But when you write, you can go at your own pace, little by little.   If you have had enough, you can save your words and resume later when you are feeling up to it.  So I have been able to communicate feelings I have not yet done so verbally.

Keep SmilingAt the same time blogging has helped me to reinforce my determination to make life beautiful.  (Reference to one of my favourite films “La Vita È Bella” where a man in a concentration camp for being Jewish tries to keep his family going through their ordeal.)  I want to dwell on all of the wonderful in life…and I want to look forward to the future with a gigantic thirst for life and love.  I try to make sure my site is generous with posts that reflect how joyful life should be despite challenges that may temporarily bruise us.

What is your favourite book?

persuasion     Les Mis     the count of monte cristo

If we are talking about novels, these are my favourite three.  I must admit I am far more comfortable with classic novels in general and I am happy to read my favourites over and over again.

Persuasion by Jane Austin is a favourite because I read it without knowing Jane Austin and without having any idea how it ended.  So the book took me through an emotional roller-coaster and I could not believe the ending.  I also love “North and South” by Mrs Gaskell for that same reason.  I had no idea how it was going to end.  I think I relate to a character who has had their hope destroyed and suddenly quite out of the blue someone turns everything upside down and the pain turns to joy.

Les Miserables, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Muskateers series…when I read these, I feel at times I am sitting on the edge of my seat with the action that throbs through the pages of these books.  Uggggh…would I love to be able to write like that!  To be able to pack that kind of excitement into each chapter.

But the question was not what is my favourite novel, but rather, what is my favourite book?

depressionMy Dadda was lost in his life.  He had made some bad decisions which had consequences that would tie him for the rest of his life.  He was intensely sad.  His father had died in childhood as well as two of his siblings.  He had many questions.  He was disillusioned with those he thought he could get help from.  My Dadda read a book, a book which answered his questions…and it motivated him to change his personality and stop his harmful habits.  He became a loving husband and father.  He is one of many I know who have made changes after reading this book, however, the changes he made directly effected my life as a small child and meant that my parents would ensure I had access to the best education available.

Russian-Bible-photoWell, which is the most popular book of all human history?  Available in thousands of languages, available in the “mother tongue of the vast majority of people today?”  A book that moved brave men and women to risk their lives to make sure that people could read it for themselves in the language of their hearts?  For every good reason!  I have been reading it’s pages since childhood and they are to me quite simply better than gold, or pearls or honey as many  others have said.  I can read it over and over and it still makes me marvel.  I learn more and more. Ingenious…revealing aspects of the human heart in clear light.  One thundering theme…how the original purpose for this earth and the human family will be accomplished…nothing and nobody in the universe can prevent that.

What do you dislike the most?

broad beans

Broad beans…I don’t get on well with broad beans.  I wish I did, because I love my veggies.  Something strange to me about the texture…I just cannot warm to them after many attempts.

However on a far more serious note:

I don’t like what is very obviously nuts…racism, abuse, war, crime.  But what grieves me deeply, is that there seems to be millions upon millions spent on this:

plane dropping bombs

….despite disasters likfaminee this….

PAIN IN MY HEART!

No matter how many words are spoken or printed justifying this…they are essentially hot air.  The reality is, things like this are monstrously wrong!  It is just one example of how much we need help.  This world is so upside down…law is numb, life is cheap, love is shallow and self-serving.  There is a definite limit to how long these ridiculous injustices can go on for.  Things will change.  This is not what this planet and our human family were designed for…and I long for the day the whole earth is at peace.

What is your favourite food at the mall?

I am not a frequent visitor of malls or shopping centres as we call them here in England.  Nope, best to avoid places that would make me spend my pennies on fluff and glitter.  Charity shops are my favourite place to shop, except for shoes and underwear (I will buy these brand new and make sure they fit perfectly and are good quality).

lolas cakes

However, when I worked in the infirmary we were sometimes asked to take some of our patients out for the day.  We often went to Brent’s Cross Shopping Centre because of the free parking and other facilities that made life easy for us.

We used to take the ladies to a lovely little spot named Lola’s.  Before 11.30am, if you bought a coffee, you could have a free cup-cake.  The ladies loved it!  The team who worked there were super.  They used to treat the ladies, who were all over ninety years of age, like members of the royal family.  Big thank you to the team at Lola’s Cupcakes.

What is your favourite pastime?

Top of my list is:  Climbing trees!

basketballI like being outdoors.  I love hiking.  I like playing sports….far more than I enjoy watching.  I used to play basketball every Friday evening.  I miss it so much.  I like playing any sport with a lot of running around.  I am not particularly skilled myself, I just love joining in and I can burn off my energy.

My sisters and I were brought up swimming many hours each week – at least ten hours a week we would swim.  We have always had a lot of stamina and energy…but I am really deficient when it comes to hand-eye coordination.  So I try to play in defence.  I am great at running around and getting in the way…but as soon as I manage to win control of the ball I have to pass it to someone else because I am useless.

None-sport related…top choice is karaoke.  Have I won Entertainer Awards for my singing?  You will find out in a future post!

 

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That is quite enough of me.  Let’s get to the exciting bit…

My Nominees:

I have no idea how many bloggers I am supposed to nominate…and I have nominated quite a few already for other awards, so I am going to nominate some of the blogs I have discovered recently and I am loving:

Thegirlwhobakes   https://rimjhimbathla.wordpress.com/

Gbolabo Adetunji  Akosile    https://gbolaboadetunji.blog/

Laleh Chini   https://avoicefromiran.wordpress.com/

averyj0624    https://caffeineandbookmarks.wordpress.com/

GRACELIFECOLLECTIONS    https://gracelife2017.wordpress.com/

 

There is a world of bloggers out there…it is fun to get to see what other bloggers are coming up with and publishing on their sites.  I am really enjoying this blogging business.  Thank you for all of your support.  I hope you enjoy answering the questions and I look forward to reading your replies.

Have fun…and have a fabulous weekend!