A storm blew in on Friday afternoon, so I took my pictures in advance of the rainy squall. We will have to wait to see what will be left standing after the wind. My tall sunflower has already lost a few branches.
So let’s jump right in with what was flowering on Friday morning.
My pot of Gazania have flowered on and off for most of the summer which has pleased me. I have once again collected the fluffy seed from them. Last Spring I had a zero germination rate from the previous year’s seed. So when I collected the seed a few weeks ago, I planted a late summer test tray. I have one seedling which I now need to keep alive all through winter.
The yellow rose near my front door has done well, it only gets early morning sun, so it has been in the shade during the drought which has kept it from dying back. I have tried soft wood cuttings, but I’m not convinced they are alive. I shall wait a bit longer before a final decision. It is a lovely rose, less thorny than other varieties.
The Salvia are coming back for a second flowering now that the temperatures have cooled and we’ve had a few showers of rain. These ones are a hot pink colour, so much so that they haven’t photographed well.
I have two Mahonia in my garden, this one is the soft leaved variety and flowers earlier than my spiky leaved one.
Fifth photo goes to a single Cosmos from left over seeds that I scattered over the ground. That reminds me, I don’t think I’ve gathered any seeds from them for next year. I shall check my envelopes of seeds to make sure.
My final photo goes to the pot of Sweet Alyssum (Lobolaria) which had an early showing, then died back in the drought, but it is now enjoying a second wind. I have other plants of this variety which came in wild seed packs and their honey scent is scattered throughout the garden.
Thank you for joining me for this #SixOnSaturday post. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you would like to know more about this hashtag, read founder Mr Propagator’s post here also find him on Twitter here.
Olga has been reading The New Shore by Caren Werlinger
I only have to tell you that this is the seventh novel I read by Caren Werlinger for you to guess that I like her writing and her stories. This is also the third novel in the Little Island series, and I discovered the author thanks to the first novel in this series, When the Stars Sang, which introduced me to the special world of Little Sister and its inhabitants.
Little Sister is an island only connected to a bigger island —Big Sister, of course— through a ferry that only runs once a month in the winter, although much more often in the summer, with no mobile phone connectivity, which relies mostly on renewable energies for its everyday needs, and where only members of the original families and their descendants can own property and become permanent residents. They are furiously independent and treasure and preserve their traditions, a combination of old Irish (Celtic) customs and those of the original Native American inhabitants. Their ceremonies (and there are many for all kinds of occasions) are described lovingly, as are the lives and adventures of the inhabitants of the island. And those of us who have been following this choral story are always happy to catch up with them again.
One of the things I like best about this series is the fact that the author keeps adding onto the previous stories, and not just coming up with a new set of characters and leaving the old ones to make a small appearance as a secondary characters in somebody else’s book. Although we do not know the ins and outs of the lives of all of the characters of the island in detail, over these three volumes we have got to learn a lot of things about many of the people living there. Among them: the owner of the shop, the owner of the hotel and her husband, the retired teacher, and her sister, as well as the characters who played major parts in the previous two stories, Kathleen and Molly, who met and fell in love in the first book, and the new arrivals on the second novel, Meredith, and her parents, Irene and Roy. We also know Molly’s parents, her brothers, and her aunt, Rebecca, who is the Keeper and librarian (two tasks that go well together), tasked with keeping the records and the story of the community living in Little Sister. And a few more things.
This time we get to learn more details about Rebecca’s past and some more secrets about her role; Kathleen has to face the difficult relationship with her parents, discovers that there is more to her family than she realised, and her connection to the island is put to the test; and Meredith and her parents, who are happy to live in Little Island, are confronted with some unexpected challenges. All of those characters have to face questions about themselves, their identities, and their priorities. How important is life in Little Island and how much are they prepared to sacrifice or give up to continue living there?
I have mentioned the choral and community elements of this series, and that means that there are many themes explored in this book. The close connection of the island with the natural world and the seasons is reflected in the way the story is structured and how it follows a chronological order, with the passing of time and the changes in weather marking and dictating what life is like. Much can happen in a year. We have a variety of ceremonies and events (marriages, bondings), deaths and births, we have new projects coming to fruition, we have health scares, we have secrets uncovered and secrets kept, we have people moving away and others coming back, and although all the characters have their role, the women’s connection to the island and the bonds and mutual support is what keeps the community alive and full of positive energy.
As usual, the writing is gorgeous. There are some beautiful descriptions of the landscape, the weather, and the ceremonies that have something magical about them. The third-person narrative alternates between quite a few of the characters, and that gives more depth and closeness to the story, as we get to understand how the different individuals feel, and also see what the people around them think and what worries them. The changes in perspective are clearly signalled, and each one of the characters is so different in outlook from the rest that it is impossible to get them confused. There are very touching and moving moments, some tough and hurtful ones that would test anybody’s goodness and kindness (because not all the characters are likeable, and some are anything but), some funny events, but also some sad ones. We might agree or disagree with some of the decisions taken, but the author makes sure we get to follow the mental process of the people involved, and we even experience the struggle and doubts they have to face. As is the case in real life, there are no easy answers, and that is one of the things that make us love the island and its people even more because nobody on it is perfect, but they all work hard, help each other, and try to keep their community alive, and these days, that is something most of us can only dream of.
As a warning, I would mention, as I have done in the past, that there are some sex scenes in the book. These are not many, and they are not excessively detailed or over the top (and that is coming from somebody who doesn’t enjoy these kinds of scenes), but I know that is something down to personal taste, so I thought I’d mention it.
On the other hand, those who enjoy diversity in literature will find plenty here. One of the many joys of the book is to see a community steeped in tradition but open to all kinds of roles for all kinds of people, happy to have a woman as a sheriff, to embrace LGBT relationships, to accept behaviours that seem, at the very least, peculiar and eccentric, to welcome with open arms strangers (as long as they don’t try to impose on them or change their way of life) and willing to accept supernatural and magic events without blinking an eye. And those who love dogs (and cats) have some stars to make them smile as well. I so love Blossom!
The ending is as it should be, in my opinion. Life goes on, and we are not left with a cliffhanger, although there are many more stories to tell, and much more to come. If there will be or not, will depend on the author. Fingers crossed!
So, yes, of course, I recommend this novel. Please, make sure to read the other two novels in the series first. If you have, you don’t need to worry if it’s been a while since you read them, though, because there are enough hints and references to previous events to refresh your memory, and I had no difficulty recalling all the relevant information. In fact, after reading a few pages, I felt perfectly at home, as if I was visiting some old friends. And that is what Little Sister and its characters have become for the readers of the series: a refuge, a magical place we can visit when we need a break from our everyday lives, and one where we are all welcome, no matter where we come from or what our issues might be. I enjoyed it enormously, I recommend it to readers of the previous two novels and to anybody who enjoys beautiful language, great characters, a magical setting, and needs a bit of a boost. Don’t ask me which of the three novels is my favourite, because they all make up an organic whole, and one I hope the author will keep adding to.
Life on Little Sister Island is idyllic. Until it isn’t. Now that the island will have its own teacher for the first time in decades, Rebecca Ahearn is tasked with making financial arrangements to build a new school room. While on the mainland, she barges straight into her first—and only—love, a woman she hasn’t seen in over forty years. Suddenly, the choices she has made for her life seem empty, and she begins to wonder if it was worth the sacrifice. For Kathleen Halloran, distance and limited communication have been the keys to maintaining a tolerable relationship with her parents. She’d like to keep it that way, but when her father needs her help to take care of her mother—the woman she knows never loved her—she’s forced to confront the pain and resentment she can’t seem to let go of. Kathleen’s mate, Molly Cooper, galvanizes the islanders to pitch in and help Kathleen and Rebecca weather the stormy seas ahead. The question is, can wounds that deep ever truly heal? Perhaps the magic of Little Sister Island can do what humans cannot—and make the impossible possible after all. The New Shore is the third book in the Little Sister Island series.
The story starts in a classic fashion for this sort of tale – a family en route to somewhere else turns off the road to find a toilet and anything that might ease their journey on a dark and lonely night. The scene is filled with foreboding, and sets the stage nicely for what comes next. A curious fellow called Benjamin Clark is threatening the town’s Pastor Thomas Loggins – he knows a secret from Loggins’ past, and will reveal it unless the Pastor pays a terrible price. Thing is, Clark has done this before. More than once. Going back many years… Some don’t agree with my theory that writing talent is something you need to be born with – you can hone it, develop it or ignore it, but if the talent is not innate, you will have a hard time delivering a story in such a way that makes people want to keep turning the pages. Which is what it’s all about. David Odle certainly has this talent – the suspense worked so well, and I was totally invested in the story. Just two aspects let it down, for me, was that it wasn’t very well edited. I felt it could have done with another draft or two, and a more eagle-eyed proofreader. The other disappointment was the lack of resolution about Benjamin. It’s hard to explain this without giving the plot away, but I needed to know more about his history and motivation than I was told.
All in all, though, it’s a good book, and I’d recommend it for the storytelling quality alone.
We all possess secrets. We lock them away. We bury them into the deep recesses of our mind. We go about our day and pretend they aren’t there.
That’s exactly what Thomas Loggins was doing. Going about his days. The head pastor of a small church in a small town. A family man, with a loving wife and a wonderful daughter.
Until one day, that all changed. It began as a typical meeting with a new member of the congregation. But Thomas soon realized this was anything but typical. This man knew things. Things that nobody should know. And he was making impossible demands.
Thomas’s simple life in the quaint town of Black Rock crashes into life or death when the stranger utters, “I know your secrets, pastor, and it’s time to pay the price…”
The Makings Of Violet Frogg is historical fiction set at the turn of the twentieth century that details three eras during the adult life of Violet, as she reinvents herself to suit different roles. Underlying themes revolve around the suffragist movement, while there is also a touch of romance for Violet.
Of the three parts, Violet’s role in the London theatre scene is the largest element of the book and the author’s knowledge of theatre shines through; the ins and outs of an actor’s life and all those in background parts made it feel really genuine.
I did find that the writing style veered towards over-explanation, particularly when scene setting, as if this was first written for the stage. A more concise format may have kept the pace brisk without losing any of the important content. Overall, an okay story, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped.
‘All the world’s a stage’, and Violet Frogg plays many parts.
From straightjacketed vicar’s daughter to cossetted married woman, suffragist and working girl. But just as Violet is beginning to find her feet as assistant to the manager at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End, her past catches up with her and – off she goes again.
What’s going on? Why does Violet have to keep reinventing herself, with new names and new identities? What is she escaping from?
Or is she simply a young woman at the turn of the 20th century trying on different roles to see which fits best?
Liz has been reading Sisters At The Edge Of The World by Ailish Sinclair
In the same part of Aberdeenshire that is the setting for the earlier books written by Ailish Sinclair, the reader returns to the stone circle but in much earlier times, circa AD 83, when the Romans attempted to stretch the boundaries of their Empire, marching to the far north of Scotland. There lived the Taezali, a Caledonian tribe living simple, satisfying lives. Our heroine, Morragh, an orphan, is a seer, believed to know the future, even though she does not speak. Cared for her by her strong sister, Onnagh, Morragh has visions, believing she can communicate with the Goddess, but in a surprising introduction, her life changes forever.
As she travels to Cullakhan Bay with her tribe, Morragh finds herself to be a bridge between the Men of Mars and her own people. She meets the Calgach, a Celtic leader who will lead them into battle against the Romans. She likes and admires him but knows that he will not survive.
Are they not magnificent?” asks the Calgach, striding towards me through the camp, his hair loose and flowing back in the breeze today. He looks like the God of this sea, this great ocean, strong and invulnerable and beautiful.
This is a complex mystical tale of bloody conflict between two disparate civilisations, but also about sisterhood, romantic love and dramatic choices. Morragh is not like most of us. Her actions are instinctive and passionate, but her certainty is persuasive. A thought-provoking story seated in the traditions and superstitions of the past.
When Morragh speaks to another person for the very first time, she has no idea that he is an invader in her land.
What she does next constitutes a huge betrayal of her people, threatening her closest relationships and even her way of life itself.
As the conflict between the Caledonian tribes and the Roman Sons of Mars intensifies, can she use her high status in the community to lessen the coming death toll or even prevent outright war?
Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a story of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love.
Robbie has been reading The Peaceful Village by Paulette Mahurin
I enjoy reading books about World War II and I’ve read and enjoyed another book by this author, so when I saw The Peaceful Village, I knew I had to read it. I knew it would be a tough read before I started but I must admit that this particular event shocked me to my core. It seems beyond comprehension that any normal human being with a soul can behave in such a callous and brutal way towards civilians.
This book is historical fiction and based on a real event so I knew the ending before I began. Reading a couple of paragraphs about a tragedy of this nature is, however, quite a different experience to reading a fictionalized account of it. The author’s great strength with this book is the detailed manner in which she depicted the main characters and the specifics of their lives and how she made the reader care about them. Even the supporting characters feel like neighbours and friends.
Francoise is one of the main characters. The wife of a French carrot farmer, she is worn down from years of working the land and her spirit is ailing due to the German occupation. Francoise is given an opportunity of a job at the local church in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, which leads to her becoming involved in a small way with the French resistance and their efforts to hide Jewish families. Francoise blossoms in her new role and becomes the reader’s measure of normality and representation of the comfortable and peaceful lifestyles of the villagers.
The story moves between life in the village, largely told through the eyes of Francoise, and the activities of the French resistance who are using terrorist tactics to fight the occupying German forces. This tactic works well as the reader knows more about what is happening with the French resistance and the Nazi occupiers than the villagers of Oradour. It creates a lot of tension as the reader can see how the events are likely to unfold as the villagers go about their daily lives.
This is a beautifully written and heart rending book which has been well researched and presented. Anyone who is interested in WW2 and the effect of the Nazi regime on the local population in France will appreciate this book.
During the German occupation of France, nestled in the lush, verdant countryside in the Haute-Vienne department of central France was the peaceful village of Oradour-sur-Glane. It was a community where villagers woke to the medley of nature’s songs, roosters crowing, birds chirping, cats purring, and cows plodding on their way out to pasture. The people who lived there loved the tranquil nature of their beautiful home, a tranquility that existed year-round. Even with the German occupation, Oradour-sur-Glane – the village with cafés, shops, and a commuter tram to Limoges – remained relatively untouched by the stress of the occupation.
While Oradour-sur-Glane enjoyed the lack of German presence, twenty-two kilometers to the northwest in Limoges, the Germans were reacting with increasing cruelty to organized attacks on their soldiers by the armed resistance organization Francs-Tireurs et Partisans (FTP). Headed by Amédé Fauré, the Limoges FTP was considered the most effective of the French Resistance groups. Fauré’s missions prompted the German military to kill and incarcerate in concentration camps anyone perceived as supporters or sympathizers of the Resistance.
Up until the middle of 1944, the German anti-partisan actions in France never rose to the level of brutality or number of civilian casualties that had occurred in eastern Europe. A little before the Allies landed in Normandy, all that changed, when German troops, and in particular the Waffen-SS, stationed on the Eastern Front were transferred to France. It was then that FTP’s increasing efforts to disrupt German communications and supply lines were met with disproportionate counter attacks, involving civilians. Fauré’s response was to target German officers. When he set his sights on two particular German officers, all hell broke loose.
Based on actual events as told by survivors, The Peaceful Village is the fictionalized story of the unfolding of the events that led up to one of the biggest World War II massacres on French soil. Much more than an account of Nazi brutality and the futility of war, this is a story of love.The love of family. The love of neighbor. The love of country. Compassion and courage burn from the pages as the villagers’ stories come alive. Written by the international bestselling author of The Seven Year Dress, Paulette Mahurin, this book pays homage to the villagers who lived and loved in Oradour-sur-Glane.
Although the evenings and mornings are drawing in we have still got a mix of sun and warmth while a sprinkle of welcome rain arrived on Friday. I have rummaged round in my plot and found enough items for another week.
First photo is one one of my Cotoneasters. this one fans across the front wall below a bay window. I think it may be the Grey Cotoneaster.
Second photo is of the third Squash growing on this self-seeded plant (from my kitchen compost). The first two didn’t get beyond walnut size before the pests ate them. This one is cricket ball size.
Next are my courgettes. I have eaten one and have more growing. Fingers crossed that the first frosts stay away and I can harvest them.
Fourth photo is of one of the Fuschia which drapes itself over the pink rose. It then hangs down over the lawn.
Fifth photo goes to one of the Tradiscantia cuttings from last year which has really enjoyed the hot summer.
Last photo is of another one of the Cotoneasters, this one may be a European variety the leafing is different from the first one. This plant is more upright in growing style.
Thank you for joining me for this #SixOnSaturday post. I hope that you enjoyed it. If you would like to know more about this hashtag, read founder Mr Propagator’s post here also find him on Twitter here.
Sue Has been reading Shadow House by A R Silverberry
Shadow House is a fairly short novel, but it is not lacking in depth of story. I found it sucked me in almost immediately and it was very difficult to put down.
The story is set in the not too distant future on “New Earth”, a dystopian future following the breakdown of society as we know it:
“History, as taught in school, proclaimed that New Earth had sprouted from a chaotic lawless time in human history, when small bands preyed on and slaughtered each other over dwindling resources. Johari believed that part of the account. It was the next part that seemed iffy. All at once, something happened. A mutation—a new species, some people claimed—appeared, like Cro-Magnon beside the Neanderthals. This new “more advanced” group broke away from the old one and traveled to New Earth. How that was done was sketchy at best. But even today people talked about the Freedom, a mass migration of millions to a new world. And the new world they created was, so they said, superior in every way to the one they left. It was a perfect society.”
I would have liked a little more information regarding this migration. I felt the author brushed it aside somewhat, but I am hoping perhaps it will be given more explanation in the next book. Perhaps it is another mystery that the main character, Johari, will need to solve.
The major portion of Shadow House revolves around four teenagers’ time inside the House, a kind of glorified magical escape room filled with monsters and peril, which teens must enter once during their lives. Not everyone comes out again and those who do not escape are never seen again. Once inside, stairways and doors disappear, herding the four main characters to desired destinations, where they have to face their pasts and personalities and be tested in sometimes terrifying situations.
“…he had difficulty shaking off the feeling that the House would be their tomb.“
““People get out; people get out,” he told himself. And some don’t. “
However no one knows what they will discover once inside, as it is forbidden for the survivors to discuss their experiences. The House itself is described really well, it sounds like the kind of building you might cross the street to keep away from:
“The House had a curious tinge, like an early photograph, faded and discolored. It was three stories and old beyond reckoning. The paint had peeled off. The wooden walls were weathered and sun-bleached a mottled gray. He wondered why termites hadn’t consumed the whole thing long ago. The house bulged on the right to accommodate a semi-circular tower rising two stories and culminating in a conical roof. A lower gable above the front porch was ornamented with scrollwork. But it was the upper gable that arrested his attention. The woodwork was much more complex, filling the whole triangular shape of the gable. In the center was a symbol of some sort. It might have been a flaming candle, but it seemed to Johari it was more like a hand held up in warning.”
The four teens had very different characters. Johari is the main point of view character and hero of the book. He is a mixed race orphan with gorgeous features who spent his childhood being tossed from one foster family to another, never really knowing love and suffering bullying. This often ended in his getting blamed and eventually in him being saddled with a criminal record. Despite his horrible childhood, Johari is very likeable, brave, and a team player. He is a natural leader and caring – concerned for Calista’s health. He is also the love interest for another of the characters, Greta. He is determined that if one of them manages to leave then they all must. Greta is observant and makes notes in each of the rooms as they explore the House. She is kindhearted and beautiful and Johari fell in love with her at a recent party where they first met. Due to a misunderstanding caused by Brice, the ridiculously wealthy party host, they are now unsure of each other’s feelings. This leads to expertly written romantic tension between Johari and Greta and typical teen angst which the reader experiences through Johari’s inner monologue. Greta’s friend Calista is also in the House. An asthmatic, she struggles with the dusty House but retains her wit and feisty nature. She proves to be resourceful, having grabbed bread from the kitchen, which they can no longer access once they reach the attic. The fourth main character is the entitled and unlikeable Brice, who was instrumental in Johari being arrested for stealing Brice’s father’s anti-grav car, when Brice actually leant it to him. He also paid Greta’s Mom to keep her grounded at home when she would have been a useful witness in Johari’s court case. He wants Greta to fall in love with him and is jealous of her attraction to Johari.
Sentenced to elimination in his court case, Johari sees the House as the only way out. If he is able to find his way out of the House he expects that his criminal record will be cleared. Society believes that only the very best people are able to survive and in this way it rids the world of evil:
‘It purifies,’ ‘It perfects,’ ‘It protects,’ ‘It eliminates war, disease, and poverty.’
There were elements of the book which reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the horror movies where one by one the main characters are callously picked off. It was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy YA thrillers or dystopian mysteries.
What Do You Do If You’re Trapped In A Nightmare …
New Earth’s Supreme Council dooms Johari Hightower to Elimination. Never mind that he’s innocent. His only hope is the House, a rite shrouded in mystery. No one says what happens inside. And those who don’t make it out are never seen again.
But what do you do if the girl you love is inside? What do you do if she’s cozy with the guy who set you up? What do you do if you’re running for your life?
The Pirate Duchess is set in the late 1700s and is an historical romance.
Esmeralda Crobbin, also known as Irish Red, is an infamous privateer who sails in the Caribbean seas. It’s here that she first meets British Naval Officer Brandon Gilroy, but they part ways during a skirmish. We next meet the duo in Britain during a storm; Gilroy is still working for the Navy while Esme is searching for details about her parentage. Their encounter is short but they meet for a third time in Scotland.
There is a lot going on in this story and apart from the opening scene much of the interesting action happens ‘off-screen’. I thought that the story tried to fit in too much at the expense of giving the reader time to really enjoy the two main characters. It’s not a bad story, but I didn’t love it as much as I hoped.
Esmeralda Crobbin first encounters Brandon Gilroy during a brawl. Once their opponents are vanquished, she admires the man’s skill with his fists, his intelligence, and a number of other attributes until she learns that he is a British Naval Officer. He would be eager to see her hang, if he knew she was the American privateer, Irish Red.
Kindred Spirits is a contemporary ghost story set in the Lake District.
Grace has left her long-term boyfriend after confirming her suspicions that he was being unfaithful. Taking advice from a friend she rents a cottage for the summer, hoping to spend time sorting out her feelings and her future.
Living in the cottage next to Grace is widower Danny. Throw into the mix the fact that Grace can communicate with ghosts, and a complicated story unravels.
I liked the ghostly element of this story and there were some great secondary characters. The story bounced back and forth between Grace, before and after her move, and Danny’s point of view.
At first I thought that this would be a simple story with Grace helping Danny come to terms with his loss, but the story headed into a complex twist involving friends and relationships. There were plenty of surprises to keep the story interesting and by the end I was particularly invested in the outcome.
Grace Tapp can see ghosts. (Although she doesn’t particularly want to talk about it.)
When her relationship ends on the worst possible terms, Grace flees her boyfriend and arrives in the Lake District determined to have an uneventful summer. Her new home is calm and picturesque, just what she wanted, but looks can be deceiving…
Next door, single parent Danny is reeling from his beloved wife’s death, struggling to come to terms with the secrets she took to the grave. He knows something truly awful must have happened if she felt she couldn’t confide in him – but he can’t imagine what on earth it could be.
As Grace gets to know Danny, it becomes clear there are dark secrets hidden in this seemingly idyllic village. And, whether she likes it or not, her talent for communicating with the dead puts her in a unique position to uncover the truth.
Grace becomes obsessed with piecing together what really happened – and she must work quickly, because when her past threatens to catch up with her, she’ll need to know whom among her new friends she can trust, and whom she most certainly can’t.