Monday, 25 May 2020

Dear Edward - Book Review

Dear EdwardDear Edward by Ann Napolitano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is about a 12 year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. Ann Napolitano based the story partially on the 2010 crash of Afriqiya Airways Flight 771 which had only one survivor, a 9 year-old Dutch boy. She also used another plane crash, flight recordings, etc. as part of her research, and so the book has a very realistic feel to it...not that I'm an expert though.

The story alternates between the present - Edward's story - and the passengers and crew of the plane before it crashed. I don't always like this style of writing, but for this book it really adds something. Have you ever looked round at a group of people and wondered about their lives, what they were thinking, how they were feeling, and their viewpoint on life? I often have. We can be locked up in our own world and it's hard to imagine people in their own little world. I feel this is a key element of this story, that everyone, in one way or another, is locked into their own world, which links to Edward's journey through grief.

The story isn't over-sentimental, in fact it feels rather distant from the characters. This isn't entirely a drawback, it gives the sense of the diminishing of people struck by pain and tragedy. Like the old saying, 'he is a shadow of his former self'. Drifting through life like wraiths because part of them has died. This is particularly the case for Edward, but also for his aunt and uncle (that he moves in with) who have their own pains to process.

At first Edward is locked into his own pain but gradually you see him drawn out, bit by bit. It's cleverly done and without sentimentality.

There are some niggles. For me, it wasn't 5 stars because it felt a little too distant. I'm a very visual reader and it felt all greys and shadows - Edward and his aunt and uncle were just too opaque sometimes. As I said above, this helps to show how some people cope with pain by retreating from life, but I wanted a smidge more connection...just a glimpse. The disconnect from the characters went a little too far so that I didn't 100% care about them. It wasn't as moving as it could have been, for me.

There is a touch of colour at the end, but I won't spoil it by saying why.

All in all, a good read. The story kept moving forwards and I enjoyed it. I don't know that I'd read it again though, but I'm glad I did. I'd like to know more about the plane crashes she based the novel on, I think.

View all my reviews

Friday, 22 May 2020

Meadows in all their grassy wildflower goodness

Gary and I went out for our daily walk up the lane near our house yesterday.  I love taking photos.  Sadly my camera is broken so these are taken with my mobile phone which has limited capability.  I might take out our youngest daughter's camera, she has a good one as she loves to take photos too.  I've never used it before, so it'll probably take me a bit to figure it out.

Yesterday I was amazed at how quickly the grass and flowers had grown in the local fields and how simply beautiful they are.  So, before the farmers cut it all down for hay, I took some photos.

Tiny bluebell peaking through

Spiky old bush, it's not quite dead...

I love this little bluebell, it's like "I'm here too! I'm here too!" 

Isn't this cute?
Fields like these are so important for the local ecology and essential to bees and other insects.  We can all help the environment by letting a small part of our garden grow a bit wild, allow leaves to pile up for a hedgehog to hide in, plant native species of plants and flowers.  

Our local council are doing their bit by letting the verges at the side of the road grow long and planting out wildflowers on them.  They look prettier to me than the carefully manicured, sterile mown verges.

How are you helping out the local wildlife? Is there anything you especially like to do?

Sarah xx 💙💚💛💜

I love to read your comments, so please say 'hi'.  Also, once you've commented here, why not visit my other blog: A Tree Planted by the Waters.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Sunny happy days

There's something about sunny weather that makes you feel better about the world.  Yesterday was such a day.  We lazed in the garden, eventually moving under sun-umbrellas because it was so warm.  Just lovely.

It was so lovely I put on my favourite form of footwear: flip-flops!  I am convinced that I was designed to be a beach bum in Cornwall.  The ideal would be a little cottage on the coast, walks on the beach and along its beautiful coastline.  Barbecues overlooking the sea....  I keep telling God this, but to no avail, here I remain, plus I'd need to be quite rich to buy a cottage near the sea.

Born for flip-flops
We were supposed to visit Cornwall for our holidays this year, St Ives to be exact.  Sadly, because of the whole Coronavirus debacle it's been cancelled.  So, my flip-flops are the nearest I'll get to the sands of Cornwall this year...😭

Look how pretty:

Flickr - Kernowfile

Flickr - Kernowfile

Flickr - diamond geezer
Boots, on the other hand, is glad we are not going to Cornwall, because holidays mean a stay in the cattery, and Boots does not see the cattery as a suitable establishment for a moggy of her status.

The heat is a bit much if you have a fur coat on
I cannot complain though, this weather has been beautiful and has made lockdown so much more endurable.

Have a beautiful day, rain or shine.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; Ecclesiastes 3:11(a)

Sarah x

I have a new post up on my other blog A Tree Planted by the Waters: How I study the Bible - tips and resources 1 - Bible Versions. After leaving a comment here, pop over there and visit! 💚💚💚

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Rainbow Valley - L.M Montgomery

Rainbow Valley (Anne of Green Gables, #7)Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love LM Montgomery's books, particularly the Anne books. They are old fashioned and some might find these bygone ways and beliefs grating, but I enjoy it for what it is, a lovely book from a different era.

This is a sequel to Anne of Ingleside, number 7 in the Anne series, and concentrates mostly on periphery characters, particularly Anne's children and the children of the new Minister - who get into many escapades. Rainbow Valley refers to a hollow where Anne's children and the Minister's children play.

Montgomery creates characters that you care about, despite their imperfections. Mary Vance is incredibly irritating, but has enough fun and pathos about her that you put up with it.

It was an easy read, with just enough whimsy, romance and poetic descriptions to please me. It's good escapist fun. Ostensibly a children's book but I don't think that spoils it at all.

I loved the book basically :)

View all my reviews

What have you been reading recently?

Monday, 18 May 2020

Happy Homemaker Monday

Click on photo to visit Sandra at Diary of a SAHM
My first HHM in like FOREVER!

♥♥The Weather♥♥

Today - cloudy with a possibility of drizzle...which is typical for around here! All this sun we have had is very confusing!
Looks like Weds is going to be nice and sunny, but the rest of the week looks like cloud and showers.

♥♥How I am feeling this morning♥♥

I felt very down when I got up first thing.  I feel lonely and miserable some days.  But I am totally enjoying finally relaxing after a crazy busy few years.

♥♥On my mind♥♥

My girls and how they are coping with this lockdown.  It is so hard not being able to see or hug friends.  We are trying to think of fun safe things to do, which is hard with teenagers whose default position is sitting in bed on their devices with the curtains shut! LOL

♥♥On the breakfast plate♥♥

Yogurt, oats, raisins and a pear.

♥♥On my reading pile♥♥

I'm reading The Day the Revolution Began by NT Wright - it's slow going, interesting, but hard work.  I am also re-reading the wonderful Rainbow Valley by LM Montgomery, because I need a feel good book to read.  I also need to get started on Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano for my book club as the next online meeting is 30th May!

♥♥On my tv♥♥

We've been binge watching Killing Eve on BBC - oh my! Very exciting...and rather bizarre.  We've also started Emergence on Fox, it's quite interesting so far.

♥♥On the menu this week♥♥

Gary has been cooking some amazing things this week, including a 3 bean chilli, a goulash, a lemon drizzle cake, and some burritos.  This is amazing for me as I don't like cooking, I do it, but I don't like it.  I'm planning to cook some bolognese, probably a curry.  Gary has something planned with chicken, but I can't remember what it is!

♥♥From the camera♥♥

Our walks out each day have been a lifesaver to my mental health!  There is so much beauty around.  I thank God for it's blessing daily.

♥♥Looking around the house♥♥

Housework has taken a back-seat recently, but I am planning to do some painting after I've taken this time to rest.  I desperately want to do some gardening and plant some new flowers and make some hanging baskets.  The garden centres are reopening, so I'm planning a visit in the next few weeks.

♥♥Chore I'm not looking forward to today, or this week♥♥

Finding out if the exam centre will refund our fees from the cancelled exams,  I won't go into it here, it's a long story and  it's all mentioned on my previous post: Lockdown fun

♥♥To relax this week, I will♥♥

I bought an old Playstation 2 and I've been playing Scooby-Doo Mystery Mayhem and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.  It's so nostalgic and fun.  I'm also going to write, go on walks, do some reading.

♥♥On my prayer list♥♥

All my family and friends to stay safe during this worrying time. To pray that government makes the right decisions.

♥♥Devotional/Bible Verse♥♥

I have written a devotional about approaching God as a little child on my other blog: How to 'become like little children'

Have a beautiful week, and don't forget to visit Sandra and the other HHM bloggers!

Sarah xx

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Lockdown Fun

Hello there,

How are you?  Life is very strange at the moment isn't it?  We've been in 'lockdown' since the end of March.  Exams have been cancelled.  Gary is on furlough from work.  The girls are getting a touch of cabin fever.  Boots is very confused at her house being full of humans all the time.

Luckily we live near some beautiful open countryside and have taken advantage of that by going for a walk each day.  The weather has fortunately been great so far, so that's helped too.

The exams situation has been a big stress.  Due to the coronavirus situation, the government here in the UK cancelled all the summer public examinations for GCSEs and A levels.  The plan was for teachers to assess students using a mixture of coursework, mock exams and other evidence in order to grade the students - they called this 'calculated grades'.   As you know, we home educate our two girls, so we weren't sure how it was going to pan out for us as private candidates.

Lils was supposed to be sitting 4 GCSEs this year to bring her total of GCSEs to 8 in preparation for college, and Bets was to sit 3 A levels in preparation for university entrance, in September this year.  So we waited, and we waited.  We gathered a huge amount of evidence, using a company that employs qualified examiners to mark papers and essays to show the standard that they were up to.  Basically we worked many hours doing this and uploading it all digitally. They were both doing excellently.  Sadly, however, our exam centre finally told us at the beginning of May that they would not provide a calculated grade for the girls, despite the huge amount of evidence we had and that our only options were to withdraw or defer to the Autumn sitting.

No GCSEs. No A levels.  The girls were devastated.

We then spent hours getting in contact with the college and university that the girls most wanted to attend and eventually we got through, and fortunately they were both happy for the girls to still attend from September .  Which is a miracle and such a relief, particularly for Bets because the course she wants to do is discontinued from next year, so this year was her last opportunity.

Because they would both be starting their courses in September Autumn exam sittings were not an option, so we had to withdraw.  On top of the girls' devastation, of all their hard work gone to waste, the exam centre are refusing to refund our money, which is a lot - due to their 'terms and conditions'.  We think this is shockingly bad business behaviour, we would understand an administrative fee but to keep the whole lot (over a thousand pounds) - other than the refund from the awarding bodies - is just disgusting.  We are praying for a change of heart because Bets won't get her scholarship grant because she hasn't sat her A levels and we could do with the money.  But, it's all in God's hands, whatever happens.  We've written back to the exam centre to express our shock and disappointment and we are hoping for a change of heart.

God is in control and his will is always good:

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17

We are slowly relaxing after all the stress.  I bought myself a Playstation 2 and have been enjoying the nostalgia of playing Scooby-Doo Mystery Mayhem and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.  I'm hoping to write a bit more too, both spiritual things (hence my new blog - A Tree Planted by the Waters) and to write here...although I've said this before.  I've been reading a lot too.  It's good to just chill out.

My plans are to do some work in the garden and some decorating when I've got my energy back.  And in the next few months I need to think about getting a job!  Yikes.  I'll put that off for a bit, haha!

Gary's been doing some cooking and baking, it's usually me that does all the cooking, and I hate it LOL, but I do it because Gary works long hours some weeks.  But now he's been at home he's been cooking some delicious meals and baked a cake.  It's things like this that make lockdown much more tolerable, and I'm also hoping he carries on when he goes back to work! Haha

As I said earlier, we've been going for a few walks - here are some pictures.

Well, that's all for today. If you're interested, I have a new post up on my other blog: Mysteries of Life Here and Hereafter.

Sarah x

Thursday, 14 May 2020

New blog


I've been blogging since, way back when.  Mostly everyday chit-chat but interspersed with scriptures, Bible studies and my thoughts on a variety of spiritual things.  I started blogging because I was lonely and I made some good friends via the internet, good friends that have lasted for many years now.

My every day blog is here, where I share about family and motherhood and cats (a lot!), and anything that pops into my head.  I'm not going to get rid of this blog, I still want to post family stuff and funny stuff and, well, whatever I want.

I haven't posted here in a while, I planned to but life got so busy.  We've been home educating for the past 3 years and it has been so life consuming, and we've had some set-backs exam-wise which I may share about here.  But, for the most part, it has been wonderful.  The girls are both moving into a new season with college and university, so I feel I too am beginning a new season.

I've closed my other blog - It's OK to Fail - which was a place where I could process some difficulties we were going through as a family church-wise.  I feel it's time to move on from that, otherwise there is a danger I will stagnate.

I love to write and I love to teach.  I've been preaching and teaching sporadically for about 8 years now, at church, small groups, at a small local Bible college (sadly closed now) and at other places as well.  We took a break from our current church last September to pray about what the next stage is for us, it's taken us some time, but we think we have finally found the home for us.  So I haven't had the opportunity to speak for quite a while, AND I MISS IT SO MUCH! Lol.  But for every thing there is a season and a purpose, so I'm at peace with it.  Maybe I'll make some videos, if I am brave enough.

I want to plough some of that...not sure how to word it...excitable frustration into writing a bit more.  Hence a new blog: A Tree Planted by the Waters.  Plus, as my oldest friends will know, I just love a new blog!

That will be the place where I will be gradually uploading transcripts of my preaches and teachings, but also a place where I will ponder this and that.  I've also transferred all my blog posts that are spiritual in content from my other blogs to here.

Sarah x