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WELCOME!

A warm welcome to my author website and blog.

I’m overjoyed that my childhood dream of becoming a writer has been realised and I am the published author of two books … with more yet to be released.

Enjoy learning about my books. They are available in both paperback and Kindle format.

The blog below features my short stories and poetry, as well as a wide range of book reviews and travel and nature related articles. Please take a look around – I’m sure you’ll find lots to delight you!

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison

MORE THAN COFFEE: A BOOK REVIEW

‘More than Coffee’ by Lauren Scott is a beautiful and reflective celebration of life; a book of poems and prose that flows with ease between memories of the author’s life, of the six decades of a loving marriage of her parents and of her family, to present day hiking trails, between the wonder of nature and the seasons to the amusing encounter with spiders!

The pieces are imbued with warmth, love, light humour and sadness; overall togetherness. Life in all its facets is explored and ensures that the reader reflects on their own lives and those closest to them, reminding us of the treasures within even the most insignificant of items or events.

A late-comer to hiking and camping, Lauren captures the magic and enriching moments of being in the wonder of solitude in nature.

‘It’s about those quiet, nostalgic moments sitting on a smooth slab of granite, captivated by the sights and sounds of wilderness surroundings.’

The book begins with her first ever hike in her fifties and in ‘Silver Heirlooms’ she describes setting out her mother’s silverware which brings moving reflections on how this previously normal household cutlery is now filled with nostalgic significance and poignancy as her grief over the loss of her parents eases to help her move forward.

The power of nature is captured throughout and it is a privilege to join her on the trail, pausing to appreciate that ‘listening to the whispers/among the trees/our time here/is a gift.’ Just as Lauren Scott feels that the ‘tranquility embraces’ so the reader is enveloped in a heartwarming embrace.

The book fulfils the promise of being a ‘snapshot of memories’ and one of my favourites could easily be turned into a novel, I feel. ‘Ninety-seven candles’ is a beautifully penned piece about her father-in-law Wil and his extraordinary life. During his nigh hundred years of life, Wil has twice been joyously married yet endured two heartbreaking losses. However, his positive attitude and gentle humour still shine through.

A humour shared by her father, who when asked the secret to reaching his nineties, declared with aplomb, ‘the olive in the martini’.

Through her gifted writing, Lauren captures the fun first meeting with her husband; who knew selling a fridge could be so life-changing! On their first date, it was ‘as though we’ve danced together a million times before’. Lauren has a gift for seeing beyond the ordinary and in ‘Cake’ she weaves in descriptions of her bridal shower, her parents and children – the universal force of love and life is re-affirmed.

Since singing is part of Lauren’s being it is perhaps not surprising that the powerful and intense poem ‘Belonging’ is a love song to her husband and soulmate, Matt.

Do you trust me? Will you
take my hand and let me
lead the way to a place
transcending the boundaries
of our reality? Let us get
lost in the tranquility –
dancing to the majesty of
the surroundings, feeling the
rhythm vibrate through our
bones. For as long as our
hearts desire, this is our
destination. For time is
but a memory. Its existence
leaves no trace on the path
where we tread. There is
only you, me, and the
intensity of our belonging
to each other.

‘The Phone Call’ especially resonated with me as a recent ‘empty-nester’; I related to the gems of long chats with children moved away, the love and pride as they make their way into the world, but the pain too. As Lauren’s son is soon to embark upon his path across the country he tries to reassure his parents and show them how this is a positive experience for them – a comment that had me laughing out loud and so typical! ‘Mom and Dad can reap the benefits of having the house to themselves.’

In ‘More than Coffee’ Lauren realises her dream to be ‘the narrator of my own stories’ and it is with gratitude, joy and chuckling that I could sit down, with a cuppa, and join in this wonderful, uplifting and absorbing collection; peace settling upon me. I only hope I will learn to collect my memories with equal clarity, wisdom and warmth, to reach a deeper understanding of life and its joys and tragedies. ‘More than Coffee’ is a true tonic for the soul and I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publication Date: 21st September 2021

Available:

Amazon UK: Kindle £ 3.32 Paperback £ 6.88

Amazon US: Kindle $ 4.99 Paperback $ 2.34

ABOUT LAUREN SCOTT

Lauren writes poetry, memoir, and fiction short stories who lives in California with her husband of thirty-three years and their chocolate lab; they have two grown children. She has authored two collections of poetry: New Day, New Dreams (2013) and Finding a Balance (2015). Her latest book, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose was published in 2021. And in 2022, she contributed four poems to the anthology: Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships. Lauren writes about family, experiencing loss, finding joy in the smallest things, and nature from her many backpacking and camping adventures.

Parallel to her passion for writing is her love for reading. Whether it is a gripping thriller or a heartwarming romance, she enjoys exploring different worlds and meeting diverse characters, drawing similarities to reality that translate into her own writing. Her writing projects are sometimes serious – drawn from painful subjects and raw emotions – or they spotlight her silly side – pulled from humorous moments captured in photographs.

Lauren is inspired to write from her love of nature and the marvelous wild world that surrounds her: the smell of the woods, the sound of a babbling brook, and the chorus of birds singing. Recent backpacking trips with her husband along the California coast and Sierra Nevada mountains have stirred up thoughts to pen about love, lost friendship, family, and the possibility that anything can happen. Hikes along the Paper Mill Creek remind her that life is fragile. From trout hatchlings to swallowtail butterflies, Lauren marvels at how the world is interconnected and that every living thing matters. She hopes her readers will find a little nugget of delight, comfort, or understanding in her poetry and stories – some detail that resonates with them beyond her words.

Finally, Lauren Scott shares her beautiful poetry, vignettes on life, and fiction short stories on her engaging blog Baydreamer ~ a thread of words from every stitch of life ~. Enjoy meeting her there and join Lauren for a cup of virtual coffee and chat.

THE ENIGMA OF ROOM 622: A BOOK REVIEW

There is a wall! In nearly all fiction novels there is a distinct wall between the story and the writer – the latter remains well hidden and remote from the book. However, in The Enigma of Room 622, the first book I read in 2023, the author smashes through this concept and becomes one of the main protagonists. With daring and excellent writing Joël Dicker breaks down the infamous fourth wall within acting (and by extension in writing) and directly addresses the reader while at the same time becoming one of the key characters.

I started reading this beautiful book gifted to me for Christmas without scanning the inner dust jacket information, without perusing its back cover. Sometimes I just want to be surprised and wow, this book achieved that in abundance!

After a couple of pages, I found myself doing a double-take! Was the writer’s name really the same as the initial character? Were they both the same writers? The answer was an unequivocal yes!

A careful reading of the blurb showed I was right and I was thrilled! Could Joël Dicker carry this off and retain it throughout the whole book as he investigated the mystery and interviewed people along the way? Could he slowly unravel the story in the first person perspective while at the same time creating a full-fledged novel of 563 pages in the third person? Absolutely!

The Enigma of Room 622 is a multi-layered novel that begins with a very simple set-up.

A famous writer, recently broken up with his girlfriend, leaves for a break at Hotel de Verbier in Switzerland. He finds himself in room 621a. The scene is set—what happened to room 622? A mysterious unsolved murder it turns out and his recent friend and aspiring writer Scarlett urges him to investigate the story. She believes this can help him recover from his girlfriend woes, and the writer’s sorrow following the death of his mentor/publisher. In the process, she hopes this will help Joel create his next global blockbuster.

Quickly the novel develops into a partial thriller involving a Swiss international bank, as well as espionage, plus a murder mystery and also tilts towards romance in the form of the trickiest and pivotal of love triangles.

The plot line reminds me of an intricate Venn diagram with various engaging storylines on the periphery which intersect throughout the book. Furthermore, the author interweaves a multitude of characters and plots across thirty-five years with a deft seamless touch that has the reader hooked throughout!

Macaire Ebezner is a president in waiting to the largest private Swiss bank and he is married to the stunning Anastasia, supposedly part of a Russian dynasty. As well as a banker (a role that honestly rather seems to bore him) Macaire enjoys the excitement of working as a spy for the Swiss secret service to aid the county.

Macaire’s presidency is in doubt however when he learns that the board plan to vote in Lev Levotich instead. The plot thickens and the history of Lev’s lowly actor father is introduced in detail as is Lev’s surprising rise to banking success! The two men are tied together not only through banking but through their love of the same woman.

This is only the bare outlines of an intricate suspenseful novel with a plenitude of extraordinary characters and their lives. There are twists galore until the most astonishing and unexpected ending!

The imagination and skill of Joël Dicker in creating this tour de force novel are extraordinary. It is one I can highly recommend.

About Joël Dicker:


Joël Dicker was born in 1985 in Geneva, Switzerland, where he studied law. He spent childhood summers in New England, particularly in Stonington and Bar Harbor, Maine. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair won three French literary prizes, including the Grand Prix du Roman from the Académie Française, and was a finalist for the Prix Goncourt. It was later adapted for television starring Patrick Dempsey. The Baltimore Boys, at once a prequel and a sequel, was published in English translation in 2017, followed by The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer in 2021. The Enigma of Room 622, his first novel to be set in his native Switzerland, has sold more than a million copies in France. Dicker lives in Geneva.

MISPLACED DREAMS

It’s that time of year again! To reflect on the previous twelve months and especially in terms of books!

One blogger in particular sums up her reading with a creative and unique approach; namely, a short story using some of the titles of the books she’s read the year before. (You can read her wonderful short story A Walk in the Wood, Book by Book on her blog ROUGHWIGHTING) Many thanks, Pam for inspiring me to write the story below which features the titles of my top twenty of the eighty books I read in 2022.

Enjoy and see how many titles you can spot! A full list is at the end of the story.

MISPLACED DREAMS

On the island of missing trees, the grief songs resonated in the absence of the light through the leaves. Songs which spun through the air in the secret language of lost dreams; when the world of sleep took on a life of its own across the four winds of the continents and set forth into the wilderness seeking their beloved recipients.

Abigail considered herself to be one of many perfectly ordinary people until the day she joined the puzzle women. Here she realised she was uniquely placed to help others, to reconcile dreams with their owners. Many claimed she lived in cloud cuckoo land however she knew in her heart she must try and in the process find the dreams waiting for her.

It was impossible to forget the day she met him. There were so many funny things about Norman Foreman after all; a congenial chap with a triangular beard bustling down his chest, the white a comfortable padding upon his generous stomach.

“Here’s the reading list, to get you started,” he’d uttered as they sat on the bench that first meeting. The ducks waddled by the river, ignoring the bread thrown to them.

Abigail had taken the list and in that second of handover it quadruped in size and she almost lost it in the sudden gust of wind.

“I’ll do it,” she nervously promised this unusual man.

On the way home the girl at the back of the bus tried to peer over her shoulder, gasping at the impossible dreams on one side of the page, the never-ending list of names on the other. She might very well gasp in wonder, Abigail thought. She too was flummoxed. How was it possible to unite the two?

“I wish you were here,” Abigail muttered to herself in the evenings, resting in the favourite well-worn armchair, the armrests sunk in the middle disconsolately. Any energy on their part to remain puffed up long since abandoned following the passing of its regular occupant, her dear William. It was nearly fourteen years ago but still she talked to him every day.

“I’m coming home,” she reassured him. “I’m coming home.”

“Never forget the forty rules of love, my darling,” he used to remind her every morning as Radio 3 and its classical music played softly. They’d written their own rules for fun on a napkin in the local Italian restaurant on their second date. The day had forever changed their lives, love bound them into infinity.

The writing was now faded, the white of the tissue a dour brown yet certain words were legible. She’d framed it as a 20th wedding anniversary present. William died ten months later.

The napkin had become an ideal ornament of remembrance at the place of their first outing as an engaged couple. The unique museum of ordinary people struck a chord with them both and they were touched by how everyday objects of deceased loved ones were displayed with tenderness and thoughtfulness. The everyday items in the museum ensuring that the extraordinary of every life lived on. Her precious napkin was now an exhibit of its own.

Oh, how she missed her treasured hubby, how she ached to see him again and every morning the way home gets longer and longer, she thought wistfully. The way home to seeing him again seemed insurmountable.

Grief, the absolute abyss of sorrow swallowed her up, her vocal chords unused to speaking, she’d become a dictionary of lost words. Until the day she discovered the mad, insane yet incredible project.

She’d help everyone she could to be reunited with their dreams and perhaps one of the others would find hers. In the process she would find herself again and the refrain of ‘the rest of me, the rest of me’ rang in her mind.

She’d wandered alone for so long!

Years after their first talk she met Norman again and he made her the new leader of the puzzle women. To the backdrop of the murmur of bees in Glenn Gardens Abigail finally declared her longing to Norman – to dream of William every night for the rest of her life. To be reunited with him for eternity in the living and dead.

“It is quite possible,” he’d confirmed as he chewed the remains of the beef sandwich, the crumbs trailing down the white-bearded mass.

One night months later she turned off the Mozart CD that she’d been listening to whilst working away. Mozart! One of William’s favourites and how they had dreamed of going to Vienna. It was not to be.

Abigail put the massive sheaf of papers aside and stepped away from her overflowing desk. The buzzing of the computer faded with one last sighing whine and became silent. The house was quiet. Perfectly still.

Sleep, once again, Abigail fell into her dreamless sleep, the darkness overwhelming until the silence was broken by music from the secret piano. Overwhelmed she listened in bliss before William stepped forth from the piano and bowed to her. At last, her wish had been granted and they were finally reunited!

©Annika Perry, January 2023

Here are the books with links to them in chronological order as they appear in Misplaced Dreams.

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Grief Songs by Liz Gauffreau My Review of Grief Songs

The Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Perfectly Ordinary People by Nick Alexander

The Puzzle Women by Anna Ellory

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Impossible to Forget by Imogen Clark

The Funny Things about Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

The Girl at the Back of the Bus by Suzette D. Harrison

wish you were here by Jodi Picoult

Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

the rest of me by Katie Marsh

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

The Secret Piano by Zhu Xiao-Mei

As I mentioned every New Year is a treat for all book lovers here on WordPress as the community shares some of their best reads from the previous year. Here are just a few posts I have come across. Please let me know if you have written a post featuring your books of 2022 or have enjoyed some other ones!

Jan Sikes

Dave Astor on Literature

Books and Bakes

Book Club Mom

Mick Canning

Darlene Foster’s Blog

Myths of the Mirror

Finally, to view all the books I read in 2022 as part of the Goodreads Reading Challenge please click here.

FIRST SNOWFLAKE

"Giant fir trees heavily draped with snow, towering birches also snow laden. The only colour is that of the yellow and blue of the Swedish flag hanging from the corner of one of the summer houses. A caption on the photo read Nothing can dim the light which shines within by Maya Angelou."

No one saw my descent that day.

In the gloom of an April afternoon, I twirled and danced my way to the ground. Through the windows of the houses, I spied people engrossed in their books, not even pausing for a second to look up at the wonder of I!

The first snowflake of the day!

So many before had vanished in a second, a small damp mark the only sign of their existence. So, that is my fate! A dazzling display for myself alone and then oblivion. As I fell through the sky, a sudden chill snapped at my points, and the atoms within the air seemed to creak and crackle. My form, utterly unique to me alone, became bold, and in amazement, I neared terra firma. With a final wispy winding whirl, I landed safely upon the soft moss of the forest.

The first! The first snowflake laying the foundations for all those to follow.

The transformation was underway!

©Annika Perry, January 2023

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The scene shown in the photo above followed the rapid and unexpected snowfall in April 2022 while staying in the ‘summer houses’ deep in the forest a two-hour drive north of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Within a few hours, without moving an inch, it was as if I had travelled through the seasons; to a world bewitched. The giant fir trees became ethereal as they were decked in their white gowns, the trees dominating the landscape.

Wishing you all a blessed and happy New Year, filled with creativity and an opportunity to fulfill your dreams.

“Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), From Ring out, wild bells in In Memoriam

PICTURE WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Do you have a spare thirty hours? Furthermore, do you have about thirty manual typewriters laying around the house?

Probably not!

One architectural student however has both of these and is creating a most astonishing new form of art – one that is reaching across the globe.

Known as the typewriter artist, James Cook (aged 25) from Braintree, Essex uses obsolete manual typewriters to ‘paint’ / tap out stunning landscapes, portraits as well as animated drawings.

James Cook. Photo on Google

There is just a moot point – they are mostly black with a dabble of red (the two colours of typewriter ribbons!) James uses the restrictions of colour to a wondrous effect, capturing St. Paul, Westminster, New York, and Florence amongst many of the world’s famous sights! The largest of these used over 500,000 characters and the least amount of time on the smallest commissions is at least thirty hours.

One weekend in July I had the pleasure of attending an exhibition of his work at a gallery in Finchingfield which is a picturesque quintessential English village with plenty of thatched houses, duck pond, pubs and cafes galore as well as a windmill.

Finchingfield Village sign. Photo by Annika Perry

It was amazing to see the drawings in real life at The Wonky Wheel Gallery. There was a wide range of them on display and it was fascinating to learn that like traditional artists James Cook actually takes his tools of the trade out on location – in this case, a typewriter or two – and sits on a chair tapping away. He will also ensure to make pencil sketches for reference later.

The Wonky Wheel Gallery & part of the James Cook exhibition. Photo by Annika Perry

However, unlike oil and water colour artists, there is little scope for error as there are no second chances and he is loath to use Tippex (white out / correction fluid). ‘Accepting mistakes has been the toughest challenge.’

To date, James has created nearly 200 drawings, and last year became a full-time artist! The now 40 typewriters used range from a 1920s Continental Portable, to a Tippa and Rimington Envoy III to later manual typewriters from the 1990s.

There was one fellow typewriter collector James longed to make contact with – Tom Hanks. The latter was impressed enough with the portrait of himself which James sent him to return it signed. This had pride of place in the exhibition and it is startling how the artist has captured the character and nature of the actor.

Currently, typewriters are to be found in every room in James’s house, and some in his car, although only a few are fully working at any time. Luckily a local company helps to supply the all-important ribbon and he is also sourcing them from the USA.

Throughout his work, his passion for buildings shines and being a student in the field is a crucial component in his success.

The Dom Tower, Utrecht, Netherlands typewriter art by James Cook. Photo on Google

Commissions are at the heart of his work as an artist and over the last seven years, James has become internationally recognised for his work. He has accepted orders from numerous countries including South America, Australia, France, Germany and the USA.

He finds that his ‘inspiration is motivated by the stories of individual and customer who commission drawings’.

Just as each drawing is created from two perspectives, that of the close-up of each individual letter, number or punctuation to create the mesmerising whole image, the viewer is equally beguiled by both elements. Close up I could see the darker areas of the drawing where the key has been struck endlessly in one place, in other areas I could see individual characters, and at times whole sentences are visible. These ‘hidden’ sentences helped him to create his slogan of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

Florence typewriter art by James Cook. Photo by Annika Perry

While at the exhibition my husband and I bought one of his limited edition prints of Florence, a belated wedding anniversary present to ourselves and in memory of a beautiful visit there years ago. From afar James has captured the city with awe-inspiring effect, building upon building rising up to the iconic Duomo in the distance, the serene Arno and woodland in the fore. Looking closer I can make out sentences such as ‘11 November’, ‘did not wake up’, ‘with intention’ and ‘2nd time lucky’. On each viewing of the image, I make a new discovery and each new find enhances the drawing!

I am sure the astonishing typewriting art by James Cook will become ever more popular and known and it was a joy to view his drawings and some of the typewriters in the early days of his career. If you want to see more of James Cook and his works click here.

Finally, after three long years, my family and I are once again returning to Sweden for a long summer holiday and as many of you are aware the location is wonderfully idyllic and remote – ie. no Wifi! I will pop in to a library or family & neighbours during my sojourn and reply to comments when possible. I wish you all a wonderful safe summer (or winter to my friends in the southern hemisphere).

‘Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at anytime and be yourself.’

Hermann Hesse

Finchingfield famous bridge and duck pond. Photo by Annika Perry

ARRIVAL

GAIL

She didn’t seem real, the first time I saw Fiona. The taxi pulled up at the double doors of the hall of residence and bulging black bin bags, followed by the thin plastic of Low’s supermarket bags tossed energetically out. At last, onto these tumbled a person. She landed like a fragile bird on top of the forgiving heap of belongings, her tartan cape gathered around. She untangled herself amidst squeals and laughter, her wispy blonde hair caught in the breeze across her eyes. The girl swished it aside, an action I came to associate with Fiona and her constant battle between the sea wind in St. Andrew’s and her long hair.

The taxi driver reluctantly stepped out of his car, muttering, obscenities no doubt. It was the same guy who had brought me here yesterday — one of 3,500 students descending on the town; the sleepy silence broken by the exuberant excited youths.

Years later I’d be on the other side, older, dreading the return to classes; an American gal settled in the deep dark depths of the north-east of Scotland — all for love, or so I convinced myself for many years.

Back then the sun gleamed through the windows, the corridors bustling with chatter, nervous giggles, hormones and alcohol; all to the backdrop of Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson and Runrig.

From below the angry voice of the taxi driver drifted up to me.

‘That’s six pounds? Do you hear me? Are you quite all there?’

The girl stood stock still, her gaze firmly upon the edifice of McIntosh Hall, or Chatham as I quickly learned the slang name for my new abode. Across four floors the impressive stone-built building curved in a long crescent around the garden to the front. This was the view from my shared room; from others, I learned their rooms overlooked the infamous West Sands. I coveted these rooms until seeing them soon after for myself. The beach view was but a corner snippet only visible by leaning out of the sash window at a sharp angle. A sash window that one day crashed down on its own accord just as I’d safely pulled in my head.

On this my only second day in St. Andrews, unaware of the dangers of the windows, I leant out and called down to the dazed girl.

‘I’ll be right down to help you. Don’t move!’

The latter words were superfluous I realised; Fiona remained motionless, oblivious to the wrath beside her, unaware of the stares and glares circling her.

Dashing down the wide wooden staircase I deftly dodged new arrivals hauling up suitcases, and grappling with backpacks. I soon arrived on the pavement outside.

‘Here’s your fare … thank you!’ I said to the driver handing him six crisp £1 Scottish notes, all the time eyeing intently the girl in front of me.

‘I’m here,’ she whispered. ‘Truly arrived!’ Her tranquil awe was infectious and in tones much quieter than my usual robust way of talking I replied cautiously to her.

‘You have indeed arrived! Welcome! What’s your name?’

‘Fiona.’

‘Fiona the Fey,’ I uttered unintentionally.

With a gasp, I tried to reach out, and grasp back my thoughtless remark. To no avail. Yet fey suited Fiona perfectly.

Not tall myself, she barely reached my shoulders, her face and hands beyond pale, a translucent white. Upon her wrist dangled an old silver watch, her limbs skeletal and resembling the build of a young child. Her face looked gaunt, the cheeks sucked into themselves but it was the eyes that held my stare. Vivid hazel-green orbs shimmered, as striking as a baby’s large eyes on their smaller head. Eyes that rarely seemed to blink, eyes that would unsettle many around her.

With a start Fiona roused herself and flung her body towards me, enveloping me in a hug.

‘Thank you! Thank you for this wondrous welcome! We will be the best of friends,’ she declared with force.

©Annika Perry, June 2022

I hope you enjoyed the above which I hope to develop into a longer piece of fiction told with an alternating dual narrative perspective of Gail and Fiona. Happy Writing!

A WORRIED DAUGHTER

A worried daughter
Woke at night
Looked at her phone
Waiting for a call

Wondering how her Mamma was faring,
under the strains
of the dreaded Covid.

She tries to still her mind
With counting games
Capital cities, memories of
Warmth, love and holidays
Abroad.

All to no avail.

It seems so long ago.

So now she sits in bed
Snuggled up in a star red dressing gown
Tapping away
To her best friend and Mamma

Hoping the night has gone well for her
There is some reprieve in the illness

Hoping she knows her worried daughter
Is always there for her.

********

I wrote this little missive early this morning following my mother’s positive test for Covid yesterday. The illness has floored my husband and me earlier in the week although I feel a tinge of improvement.

I feel blessed with my family and my friends. Their love, concern and care keep me strong.

Wishing everyone good health and more luck than us at dodging this latest wave.

Queen of Sweden Rose

CINNAMON BUNS / KANELBULLAR: MY RECIPE & ITS STORY

Not one to resist a challenge – or rather a kind offer – I happily accepted Bernadette’s suggestion to share one of my favourite recipes on her inviting, friendly and classy New Classic Recipe blog. It has a unique format with a personal story behind the recipe for each one featured and it did not take long for me to settle upon Swedish Cinnamon Buns / Kanelbullar. It is a pleasure to share my memories of first baking these as young! Please do click the link below to read the full story and detailed recipe! Enjoy!

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Hi there,
I have a wonderful treat for you today. Annika Perry, who is a wonderfully reflective writer, has shared with us her story and her recipe for Cinnamon Buns.
I chose to post this today because today is Shrove or Fat Tuesday. It is a day that it is traditional to enjoy sweets before the long fast of Lent begins. Annika’s Cinnamon Buns certainly fit the bill for a wonderful sweet treat.


If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

SWEDISH CINNAMON BUNS

There are three women gathered in the kitchen as the ingredients are placed on the counter. My mother and I as well as the presence of my departed Mormor (maternal grandmother). After all it’s her recipe and as the master baker she wouldn’t miss out on the event. It is not a light spiritual awareness of her being rather a profound sensation of her conversation, laughter and no doubt frustration at our slower preparation!

The warmest place in my grandparents’ house was one of the cellar rooms. Eradicate all the images the word creates in your mind of a damp, dark and dusty confine rather my Mormor’s baking cellar room sparkled with light and delicious fragrances dancing on the sun beams. The positive and cheerful energy pulsated through the cracks of the doors. One entered with quiet cautious steps; knowing one was always welcome but not wanting to disturb a critical moment. After all, I didn’t want to miss out on a cake or slice of freshly homemade bread!

To read the complete post please click here.

GRIEF SONGS: A BOOK REVIEW

Grief Songs is a beautiful and haunting collection of poems that has left an indelible impression on my soul.

The book pays homage to the author’s parents, Elliot and Katherine as well as her brother, George. All deceased. The heart and essence are within the minutiae of the detail of each poem; where the everyday objects or events become increasingly poignant and resonate with vitality, a life lived, a life no longer except within memories of a few. Memories such as the crooked smile of her father, the perfect portrait of the siblings, ‘his (her father’s) precious angels’ who are immortalised in a click but belies the earlier unruly behaviour of the children when:

‘George had cried piteous tears
while I railed against my bangs’

A doll during a seaside outing is recalled in the stark awareness that:

‘just Lulubelle and I now
detritus of a beach day’

Each poem within Grief Songs is preceded by a photograph and coupled with the poem these become a powerful and emotional combination.

Grief Songs I, II & III consists of one striking poem each. The majority of the poems in the book are tankas within the Poems of Love and Remembrance section. Tankas are a Japanese form of poetry, a type of short song, over five lines with a 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count format.

The hypnotic poems take on a life of their own as familial love, warmth, kindness and care is recalled. Liz’s mother is described with the memorable and striking words of:

‘for a time she stood fearless
my protector, my mother’

One of the later poems summarises her mother’s life in:

‘sixty years safe under glass
minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers’

The book is a tribute to her parents, their early life, family trips, love for her brother. An early poem describes how the siblings are enjoying a day on the beach, ‘no diagnosis / his arm around her shoulders’. Another photo and poem describe ‘George Gauffreau enjoys a Coke/classmate, friend, brother deceased’.

Katherine, Elliot, Liz & Geoge Gauffreau at Hannaford Cove Beach in Cape Elizabeth, Maine – photo courtesy of the author, with thanks.

I am deeply moved by the profound inner landscape captured within the ordinary days of family life. Remarkable moments mulled over time. In one poem, entitled ‘Time’, Liz fondly remembers her father’s story-time and her mother’s words of ‘wait till your father gets home / not a threat but a promise’. A father one senses is a hero for young Liz who, as a two-year-old, sits beside him, pen in hand as he writes his sermons. ‘oh the places she will go’. For now, she is happy to be close to her father and recalls on her confirmation day that there is ‘more time with Daddy for me’.

Liz Gauffreau’s book dares to directly approach an emotion that in modern society is often not acknowledged; the universal experience of loss is one of the rawest and most absolute of emotions and one that has become increasingly sidelined in search of ‘happiness’.

Not by Liz Gauffreau who in response to her own close personal losses in life decided to highlight the contradiction of grief. Where dark and light coexist on an existential level, where memories blend with the present, a buffer for living with intense and overwhelming grief. The transient nature of life is explored through these snapshot moments, caught in the black and white of photographs, in the black of the text, through colour images. The memories are retrieved, examined and shared in the most tender and thought-provoking poetry.

Ultimately the book becomes not only a study of Liz Gauffreau’s grief but also of one’s own as well as one’s identity upon losing those closest to us.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Publisher: Paul Stream Press (September 2021)

Available: Amazon US Kindle $ 2.99 Amazon US Paperback $ 10.57
Amazon UK Kindle £ 2.16 Amazon UK Paperback £ 3.84

About Liz Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum & Assessment for Champlain College Online, where she is an Associate Professor. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, TELLING SONNY, was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband.

Read more about Liz Gauffreau on her website and blog. Connect with Liz on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest and BookBub.

MOUNTAIN LAUREL CHRISTMAS: A BOOK REVIEW

I’m delighted to share my review of Jan Sikes’s ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ novella – a book that can be thoroughly enjoyed all year round! Her latest bookJagged Feathers’ is released on 1st February and I also look forward to reading this romantic thriller novel!

In ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ the reader is immediately drawn into the psyche of Cole Knight. Although a rich and famous musician he is still a troubled and tortured soul who cannot escape the tragedies of his childhood.

As Cole finishes yet one more night at the Grand Ole Opry the past overwhelms him again and he seeks solace with drinks in a bar by himself. He is not alone for long as a reporter seeks him out for an interview about Cole’s background.

What follows in the next chapter is a clever ‘non-interview’ interview where Cole responds to the reporter’s questions – but only in his thoughts! Quickly the truth is revealed; the death of his father and soon after his mother, which left him orphaned at the tender age of twelve. Meanwhile, his brother Timmy, who was ‘ … born different. They said his brain never developed the way it should’ was taken into care. A brother who is soon eighteen years old. The disparate family also includes his older sister April. Throughout his adult life, Cole has failed to keep a promise made to his father ‘on everything holy and sacred, to take care of Mama, April and Timmy if anything happened to him.’

The deluge of memories provides a fascinating and intense insight into Cole’s route to success. Music became his saviour and at the family shack at Cumberland Mountains he’d play his guitar and sing ‘to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log, and frogs that leaped from stone to stone’.

In sharp contrast to the past remembrances is the immediacy of Cole’s first-person direct and personable thoughts and actions of the current days. The present tense helps the reader to feel understanding and sympathy with Cole.

Finally, at his lowest point Cole, discovers a yellowed envelope.

Can this help Cole finally find redemption? Can the grief and guilt that has plagued him his adult life finally be laid to rest? Can he reunite his family and in the process heal himself?

‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’ is a compelling and engaging book and I was immediately immersed within the world of country and western as well as within Cole’s and his family and friends’ lives.

The characters by Jan Sikes are imbued with humanity and warmth, their failings are depicted with compassion, their successes are celebrated with love! She is a natural of the novella format, one I do not tend to read but I am now thoroughly converted to it! I look forward to reading more of her novellas and can highly recommend ‘Mountain Laurel Christmas’.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Available: Amazon US Amazon UK

Publisher : RiJan Publishing (November 18, 2021)

About Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes is an award-winning author & Texan Wordsmith who weaves stories in a creative and entertaining way. She has been called a magician and wordsmith extraordinaire by her readers and peers. She writes in various book genres including Biographical Fiction, Poetry, Short Stories, Paranormal Romance.

Jan is a member of the Author’s Marketing Guild, The Writer’s League of Texas, Romance Writers of America, Story Empire, and the Paranormal Writer’s Guild. Furthermore, She is an active blogger, sharing anything bookish, supporting indie music artists and metaphysical subjects! Read more about Jan Sikes, her books, writings and music on her website and blog. Connect with Jan on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and BookBub.

Finally, do also take a look at Jan’s latest release – out on 1st February 2022!!