JOY #WORDLESSWEDNESDAY

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MYRTLE THE PURPLE TURTLE: A BOOK REVIEW

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‘Myrtle the Purple Turtle’ is one of the most striking, original children’s books released in recent years.

I was immediately drawn in by the welcoming cover of Myrtle proudly striding along and quickly became engaged with this wonderful character.

As a purple turtle, Myrtle has never considered herself any different from the other turtles and is happy and confident in her life. Until one day a rude turtle laughs and taunts her for even daring to consider herself a turtle.

What follows next is a touching and tender story to which we can all relate when faced with inconsiderate hurtful comments. As Myrtle sets out on a journey of self-discovery and understanding…with some help from her mother and friends along the way, she learns to accept herself and others.

I quickly lost myself within Myrtle’s world and empathised with her hurt and confusion … cheering her on as this feisty creature sought deeper understanding.

The language of the book flows with ease and it is well written in brief sentences, which are kept lively with the use of direct speech. Children and adults alike will be enraptured by Myrtle and captivated by her story.

The illustrations are the crowning glory of this book – they are superbly and deftly drawn with a huge emotional impact and are visually appealing. The drawings, which are vibrant and luscious, are fun and often cheeky; I couldn’t stop giggling at the image of the two head-butting turtles. The illustrations and story blend seamlessly together to lift the story onto a deeper level, exploring the themes of what makes us unique and ultimately learning to embrace ourselves and others. As Cynthia Reyes herself says ‘Love Your Shell’.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Myrtle the Purple Turtle’ and it is an entertaining and uplifting book which deserves to be on every child’s bookcase…it is one they (and you) will happily return to time and again.

I received a free no obligation preview copy of this book from the author and this is my honest unbiased review.

RATING:              5 out of 5

PUBLISHER:        Weaverback Press

AVAILABLE:       Amazon UK (Paperback)      Amazon UK (Kindle)

                              Amazon US  (Papaerback)   Amazon US (Kindle)

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10 Statements – Annika Perry

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I am an avid fan of ’10 Statements’ at Karen Oberlaender’s blog mytrainofthoughtson.com and eagerly look forward to learning more about every featured writer.

What spurs them on in the morning? Who is their inspiration in life?

Wistfully I imagined what my own responses would be…

How could I sum ‘me’ up in ten short statements? What was my personal motto? What was the best advice I’ve ever been given?

My idle daydreams became reality recently when Karen kindly invited me to take part in her series and I accepted immediately. What an honour!

However, I soon started to overthink the answers, scribbling down various possible replies, in my diligence I started to dither, falling into a turmoil of confusion with every new thought.

Finally one morning I put my writings aside and opened a clean sheet of paper in my notebook, took my favourite pen in my hand and whilst scanning the statements, I wrote from my heart, letting my controlling brain drift to the wayside.

I hope you’ll pop over to see my final answers on ’10 Statements’ and also read the excerpt of one of my short stories (which might be familiar to regular readers – apologies!). Enjoy!

Please press here to read full article: 10 Statements – Annika Perry

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POETRY IN WINE

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‘Wine is bottled poetry’ * declared Robert Louis Stevenson when visiting the vineyards of Napa Valley, California in the 1880s and winemakers around the globe now seem intent on bringing that poetry and creativity to the very names and labels of their products.

A few years ago there was a proliferation of wonderful and weird names to both white and red wines and although a more sedate marketing has taken over the business, there are still some lovely evocative label names as well as the more unusual and peculiar. 


A remarkable animal is celebrated in both the name and label of one South African wine. ‘Porcupine Ridge’ wine pays homage to the nightly visitors to the vineyard when it welcomes the crested porcupines. Their formidable spines and quills form an impenetrable defence barrier as they arrive in the dark, snuffling for food around the vineyard, forest and fynbos (small belt of natural scrubland or heathland).

‘Barefoot’ wine is a personal favourite of mine which I came across on my trip to Florida last year! The very first morning, before even unpacking or shopping for food, we walked barefoot along the beach – it was a feeling of pure pleasure and exhilaration and when we later spotted the quirky-named ‘Barefoot’ with its delightful drawing we knew we had to buy it. 

Just as we had relished the free sensation of walking barefoot, so the wine name encapsulates the belief ‘that when you follow your heart there’s no limit to how far your vine will grow’. It is a wine that doesn’t want to take itself too seriously and flourished from its free-spirited 1960s start in a garage.

blackstump‘Black Stump’ wine of Australia supposedly traces its name back to the 1830s and a landmark ruling following a boundary dispute in the state of New South Wales. In that case, the surveyor had ‘pointed to some old stumps, which he said had been marked…defendant would not admit that the cross line marked by me on the plan was not part of his boundary…he said it ran to a black stump beyond the line, which he said had been marked….’

However, this historical basis for the name is in contention as it is also claimed that ‘Black stump’ is the name for an imaginary point beyond which the country is considered remote or uncivilised, an abstract marker of the limits of established settlement. 

Others believe the expression originated from the use of black stumps in the landscape used as markers when directing travellers – to me, this seems the most likely!

Many wine names are derived from the location of the vineyards which is the case for the captivating scenery pictured on ‘Oyster Bay’. Their tagline is ‘Sometimes the world really is your oyster’ as they want their wine name and flavour to bring the promise to their customers of the remote beauty of their part of New Zealand. The family-owned vineyard ensured that climate became an asset for them as the colder nights but warm days create the long grape growing season.

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The very landscape that features on their labels is beautiful and almost lyrically captured in their description of the area.

‘The story of Marlborough’s soils starts a little while back, around 18,000 years ago. So in the scheme of ancient wine regions, we are considered to be quite young.

Once a towering glacier, the plains of Marlborough’s valleys are the trail of its slow (yes glacial) retreat. In the distance, the stern Southern Alps are guardians and providers. Their foundations are broad, but lie upon two tectonic plates that are perpetually moving in different directions.

This battle beneath the earth is only discernible by rocks sent down from the above. With purpose, the snow and rain fed rivers carry these away and over centuries smooth the harsh edges of their abrupt beginnings away. They spread across the valley floor, where our vines call home.

As the stones bask in plentiful sunshine, vine roots edge beneath to find nutrients. When the air cools at night, the stones share with the vines the warmth they have collected over the day, to help create the immaculate flavours synonymous with this special place.’

On a lighter note, ‘Cono Sur Bicicleta’ wine from Chile caught my eye with its cheerful watercolour label of the bikers in the countryside. The image and name of this pinot noir is a tribute to Cono Sur’s workers who travel around the vineyard on bicycles. The environmentally friendly aspect of the company is extended into its winemaking and only natural, often traditional, methods are used to tend the vines and make the wine.

Finally, who doesn’t like some comfort in their lives? This is particularly seen with the massive popularity of comfort foods and one Californian vineyard owner has taken this to a new level with the originally named ‘Comfort Wine / Custard Chardonnay’.  

Don August Sebastiani  came up with the concept of comfort wine the first time he inhaled the aroma of his chardonnay and realised he had “…a wine that reminds me of one of my favourite childhood indulgences ‐ Sunday morning glazed doughnuts with creamy custard filling…’comfort food’ before I even knew what that was.”

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I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit about the names of a few wines and this post is the promised follow-up to What’s in an Ale Name when I explored the stories behind the names of various beers…as a non-beer drinker I rather missed out on the tasting element and many bloggers kindly suggested I should write a post dedicated to wine names! Many thanks for the suggestion, I have heartily enjoyed my research, both the written and the tasting! 

‘There is more philosophy in a bottle of wine than in books.’ Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) French chemist/biologist.

* From The Silverado Squatters, 1883 by Robert Louis Stevenson, (1850-1894) novelist, poet, essayist, travel writer.

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POWER OF PATIENCE #WORDLESSWEDNESDAY

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Often struggling with my impatient nature I regarded our unexpected visitor with awe and admiration. He waited calmly by our sides for over thirty minutes as we finished the picnic lunch by the coast one day during my summer break in Sweden.

How could we not reward such patience; his serene demeanour touched us all…with smiles we threw him food, which he approached in the same tranquil manner before leaving with a final look…of thanks and farewell I imagined. 

‘Patience is the companion of Wisdom.’ St. Augustine

I hope you enjoyed another snippet and photograph from my summer in Sweden…owing to work pressure comments have been turned for this post. Wishing you all a very special Wednesday.

SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE: A BOOK REVIEW

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After reading a series of intensive, high-octane thrillers in the past weeks, Jill Weatherholt’s  ’Second Chance Romance’ proved just the tonic I needed to relax and return to earth.

In this heart-warming novel published by Harlequin Love Inspired, Jackson Daughtry, a single father of five-year-old Rebecca, one morning comes to the rescue of Melanie Harper. She hit a tree whilst swerving to avoid a deer and Jackson’s paramedic skills come to good use as he helps her out of the car and then to the hospital. From this very first meeting, their lives are interwoven and irrevocably changed. 

Melanie is the niece of the very popular Phoebe Austin, Jackson’s business partner to the local cafe The Bean and since the death of his parents, Phoebe has been like family to him. Melanie wants her aunt to move with her to Washington, DC., which causes conflict for everyone concerned.

As a divorce attorney in the capital Melanie is a city girl through and through. However, the tragedy which struck her life a year earlier had resulted in her retreating into herself in the isolated, uncaring environment of urban life. When faced with the beauty and wondrous landscape of idyllic and harmonious Sweet Gum in the Shenandoah Valley she gradually opens up emotionally. The setting becomes an intrinsic part of the novel and the friendly, caring attitude of the community is sensitively and memorably portrayed.

The novel is told in the third person switching with ease and skill between the two main protagonists and ultimately allowing us closer access to their thoughts and feelings.

Being a romantic novel, the frisson between Jackson and Melanie is at the core of the story; its intensity and the continual emotional rollercoaster between them makes this a most compelling, addictive read. Whilst attracted to each other, they deny these feelings to themselves as differences over many issues makes any future seem untenable. Just as Melanie comes out of the hospital, Aunt Phoebe suffers a stroke and whilst she recuperates, the running of the cafe falls to Melanie and Jackson.  The past haunts them both more than ever when faced with working together each day and confronting their traumas.

Having been left to raise his daughter four years earlier when he was abandoned by his wife, Jackson finds it difficult to trust anyone. Meanwhile, Melanie is still lost to herself and the world following overwhelming grief…a tragedy that is only slowly revealed. Whilst  Jackson finds solace in his faith, Melanie lost hers. 

Faith is one of several deep and thought-provoking themes examined and woven into the narrative. Grief, fear, forgiveness and love are all seamlessly arced across the novel and hidden within the more everyday events. These include such gentle, seemingly inconsequential happenings such as a fair, apple picking, picnic and baking, which are all exquisitely described and very much part of the homily Mills & Boon genre. Numerous sub-plots such as the menacing return of woman long since disappeared and the romantic possibilities for Aunt Phoebe bolster the main story.

For me the star of this book is Rebecca, Jackson’s daughter – she instantly won a place in my heart! Her warm loving personality, belief and innate wisdom is brilliantly captured and helps unravel the darkness of sorrow within Melanie; I can just imagine the powerful impact of the hugs from this little girl. The reader’s instant affection for Rebecca only heightens the tension and drama as she faces danger and the possibility of being lost to them forever.

Although an easy read with a welcome escapist element, this is a well-crafted and written novel with a perfect fusion of romance and drama; I quickly became engrossed in the lives of all the characters and I didn’t want to leave my new friends as the novel came to an end.

Rating:                   4 out of 5 stars

Available from   Amazon US   or  Amazon UK

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RUST & SPLENDOUR #WORDLESSWEDNESDAY

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Welcome to a new series on my blog as I participate in the ever popular Wordless Wednesday – and of course, I’m breaking the rules straightaway! Wordless and Writer are not synonymous!

Many of you kindly asked to see photographs from my recent Summer in Sweden and although I won’t be posting separately I am happy to share a photo and brief description each week.

Wishing you a very special Wednesday!

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BOOKS & I – A BOOK LOVER’S TAG

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I got a tickle of excitement at being nominated for the Book Lover’s Tag – after all, as an avid reader and writer, there is nothing quite like a ‘chat’ about books!

Many thanks to Marje at mjmallon.com for tagging me; as well as being a writer who recently launched her debut YA/MG fantasy book ‘The Curse of Time’, Marje is busy on her blog reviewing books and running the writers support group she set up called the Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club.

To the questions:

1.Do you have a specific place for reading?

cosy bed:bookNot at all…if I could only read in one place I’d barely finish a book! A book with breakfast is a treat, reading a chapter whilst at the doctor’s surgery happily passes the time. There is only so much scenery I can gawp at whilst on the train before out pops my kindle and I become engrossed in the novel, often rueing the punctual arrival.

Many know of my fear of flying which has to be faced frequently and I couldn’t cope without a book …several contented minutes will pass when I forget I’m 36,000 feet in the air with just a thin piece of metal and two engines separating me from imminent doom.

Lastly, my absolute favourite time and place to read is at night, snuggled up in bed, book in hand and being transported to other worlds (safely!) before drifting into dreams. Bliss.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Bronte Parsonage Leather BookmarksIsn’t it odd how childhood habits that we could never imagine breaking become a sweet memory. When young I collected bookmarks from places we visited…a new bookmark would gingerly replace the one tucked in my book, which in turn would be added to the box under my bed. From castles to towns, from writers’ houses to cathedrals; these bookmarks were treasured and some used more than others –  The Bronte Parsonage was a particular favourite.

Meanwhile, I looked at my mother’s torn pieces of newspaper or envelopes peeking out of her books with disdain. How could she? It just didn’t look right? Where were the bookmarks I ‘d bought for her? And now, years later, my books display said paper, my bookmarks have gone awol and ironically her books are full of pretty bookmarks! How times change!

3. Do you eat or drink whilst eating?

conservatory breakfastA book with breakfast is not uncommon and at weekends a quick read in the afternoon with a biscuit is a relaxing way to spend half an hour!

4. Music or TV whilst reading.

There is no way I could read whilst the TV is on…the chatter, action would be an instant distraction and it should only be on if watching. Music is another matter and can either be tuned out or a lovely accomplishment to a book.

5. One book at a time or several?

Until recently I read only one book at a time…nowadays though reading has become a luxury and I want to continue to read a lot of books. Whilst having a thriller on the go (which is too exciting for nighttimes), I’ll often be reading another fiction book as well as enjoying a non-fiction book a the same time.

6. Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

I’ve partially answered this elsewhere but to clarify, whilst home is best, I can become equally hooked on a book whilst out traveling, visiting family and friends etc. In the end, it’s about how riveting, fascinating, thrilling, enjoyable the book is.

7. Read out loud or silently?

Always silently…I only read my own work out loud and this is an excellent way to listen to the cadence of a piece and spot those glaring errors which are easily missed when reading silently.

8. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

flipThe reasons for skipping pages are diametrically opposed…either the story is so exciting, so enticing I can’t wait to read every word and am compelled to rush ahead…or the novel drags and I move forward hoping to become engrossed further along. In the former instance, I mostly manage to rein in my urge to skip ahead, in the latter I hope to find redeeming features quickly.

9. Break the spine or keep it like new.

spineBreaking a spine is like sacrilege to me!! Never never! Having had a few borrowed books returned in this state I’m now cautious to whom I lend books.

10. Do you write in books?

As a rule I never write in fiction books (although I did as a student), however, I will scribble notes in travel, spiritual and other factual books…often underlining or making smaller notations in the margins for later reference.

11. What books are you reading now? 

Two books which I’m currently reading have been recommended by bloggers here on WP.

closeThe first I’ve just started after recently  buying it with birthday money and it is a book I’ve been very keen to read. Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’, which is also now a film, tells the story of nine-year-old Oskar Schell whose father was killed on 11th September in the attacks on the World Trade Centre. Oskar, a boy of many abilities which include  being an inventor, natural historian, detective and percussionist,  sets out to solve the mystery of a key discovered in his father’s closet and the search leads him through the lives of strangers ranging from history to the bombings of Dresden and ultimately a journey to inner peace.

shorebookThe second book I’m reading was written in 1949 by Henry Beston and only completed under duress when his fiancee refused to marry him until he’d finished it. A two week sojourn on the extreme coast of Cape Cod turned into a year as the author became mystified by the mysterious surroundings and ‘The Outermost House’ chronicles his solitary year on a Cape Cod beach and the debut book quickly became recognised as a classic of American nature writing. Its poetic lyrical language enraptures my soul:

‘Autumn ripens faster on the beach than on the marshes and the dunes. Westward and landward there is colour; seaward, bright space and austerity. Lifted to the sky, the dying grasses on the dune tops’ rim tremble and lean seaward in the wind, wraiths of sand course flat along the beach, the hiss of sand mingles its thin stridency with the new thunder of the sea.’

Henry Beston writes of  life as itself a ritual:

‘The ancient value of dignity, beauty and poetry which sustain it are of Nature’s inspiration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world.’

groenThe final book I’m reading is for a book review for NetGalley – this is long overdue and I’m thoroughly enjoying ‘The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old’ by Hendrik Groen and this is one for all fans of ‘A Man Called Ove’.

12. What is your childhood favourite book?

Yikes, this and the next question have me scratching my head in total befuddlement – how is it possible to choose from a lifetime of books?! Instead, I headed to one of my bookshelves and selected three books from my childhood that I’ve re-read many times and which have given me years of joy.

‘The Hobbit’ by J R R Tolkien is easily in the top five.

E Nesbit books were a delight, innocent, childish and incredibly likable – and it’s hard to believe they were written over 110 years ago! The Bastable children are so memorable and I empathised with their efforts and failures at being good in ‘The Wouldbegoods’!

Lastly the courage and fortitude of the ‘Children on the Oregon Trail’ inspired me for years in this exciting and tense true-life tale of 13-year-old John Sager left to fend and fight for himself and his five siblings as they continued their trip alone to the west coast in the summer of 1844 following the death of their parents.

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13. What is your all-time favourite book?

IMG_4189This is another impossible question but one of many favourites revealed itself as I scanned my bookshelf. My numerous readings of Jack London’s ‘Martin Eden’ never dulled my enthusiasm and adoration of this book with its skillful writing and striking character. I recall my complete awe and overwhelming emotion at the end…now that the book is out on my desk I fear it will not return to its place before I’ve read it again!

With which of these questions can you identify…or not? What are you reading at the moment? Which is your favourite childhood book? As always I can’t wait to read your comments.

I would like to invite all readers who enjoyed this Book Lover’s post to please consider themselves tagged – if you feel like answering these questions and post on your blog do link to mine so I can find them –  I look forward to reading all about your bookish habits!

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CREATIVE ENERGY

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Whimsy met fantasy, nature recreated by man stood next to the absurd, the beautiful rested close to the ethereal celebration of family. A journey of discovery ensued as I visited the Gardens and Arboretum of Marks Hall which hosted over 300 sculptures from across the UK. For once such a magnificent exhibition was near to me and with a childish delight of the unknown, I set off to explore…and found the most wonderfully surprising, original, colourful and creative work imaginable. It felt an honour to feast my eyes upon these sculptures and I left a few hours later in awe of the artists and inspired by the collective creative energy.

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The plaque accompanying this magnificent statue was written by the designer, Stephen Charlton and is a testament to his desire to share joy and happiness with the viewer through his work.

‘THE OFFERING
NO WORD SAID,
BUT WITH A SIMPLE,
GESTURE INSTEAD.
AN OFFER OF MY HEART,
LET’S BE ONE TOGETHER
– NEVER APART.’

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The magnificent and awe-inspiring ‘Freedom’ stands in the prime position looking across the lakes, a glorious celebration of being, ready to take flight. It’s majestic in execution and simply breath-taking in scope.

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This wonderful ‘Guardian Angel’ is made entirely from cedar wood and the photograph is deceptive of its size with the statue being thigh high. Its huge wings reach out as if to scoop you up into safety. Its creator, Ed Elliot declared that ‘sculpture is a language for me and I aim to create a memorable presence with my work. Finding the right environments for sculpture is crucial in finishing many pieces and making them sing’.

 

Animals featured too amongst the sculptures including a variety of birds, fighting hares as well as two beautiful willow horses, the light flickering across the material rendering it almost life-like. It was hard not to just reach out and touch the friendly creatures. Their creator Jane Foddy says that ‘willow is a natural product that bends in elegant curves. Willow sculptures cast intriguing shadows as the sun moves across the sky, which brings them to life and suggests movement.’

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Rounding the corner from the dark shade of a wood I entered the light of late summer afternoon and ahead in a beautiful golden circle, yellow flowers fluttered serenely in the light breeze. At the centre I spied a gleaming white statue of four figures and approaching it I realised I must meander through the maze cut through the flowers…how original and imaginative. Closer I spied the family unit of four enveloped in hugs, standing tall and stoic, looking bravely into the future.

 

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There was a variety of modern art sculptures dotted around the two and a half acre site; nature inspired many such as the glass and metal flowers, the metallic leaves of one is mirrored by the metal scooped windmill branches of another rotating creation which thrilled with its quiet ease of motion.

 

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Other sculptures took on a more abstract form, mimicking the tall trees around as well as one displaying an everyday bird bath which is ingeniously unique and quaint.

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I paused in front of the giant portal made from rusty steel; visions of numerous viewings of ‘Stargate’ come to mind. Did I dare pass through into the next dimension? Tickled with excitement I stepped beneath the circular arch – of course, I was still here, nothing had changed but for a moment the possibility thrilled me and then it occurred to me, that by visiting I had changed, new thoughts were born, energy was refreshed.

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This ginormous stained glass mosaic ball was stunning in its breadth of creation, ideas and colours which came vibrantly to life and was a most unusual form of stained glass artwork I’ve come across.

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Quirky, fantastically absurd and eye-catching summed up this astonishing creation of the fork and the conker. It stopped everyone in their tracks as the rule book of the norm, the expected was thrown out and a new reality recreated for us.

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Two personal favourites of my visit were of a smaller size. The wave totem was made of ceramic stoneware with in-glaze images of photographs from olden days. It was a terrifically atmospheric work, reminiscent of another era whilst using the art from across the Atlantic.

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The Rustic Oak Tree was galvanised steel formed into a perfect oak tree and placed on the autumn colours of a display board. Here the artist, Chris Townsend wanted to ‘challenge sculptural space’. He added that ‘in public places, beautiful objects can intrigue, calm and inspire. Some simply bring on a smile…”

All the sculptures at Marks Hall certainly achieved that, smiles all round, conversation flowing as discussions ensued, spirits revived on a beautiful late summer sunny day.

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I hope you enjoyed your ‘tour’ of the exhibitions and thank you for reading and viewing. Do you have any favourites of the sculptures I posted? Have you had the opportunity to visit any sculptures shows during the summer (or for some winter). I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments.