February 2020 Month in Review

My February Diary

February was a very busy and challenging month but a good month overall. My parent’s both had minor surgeries so I was pre-occupied with that. The 8 year old had school sports and to her great joy actually won a silver medal in the Class 2 relay race. She displayed her medal the next day on the dresser with a hand written plaque in front of it – ‘Mehuli’s first medal’.

The highlights of the month included watching ‘Little Women’ at the cinema – oh so good! Reading ‘William’ by EH Young – do read it ! And having an article accepted for publication in an Indian magazine (I’ll share more soon).

I also got to meet up with a school friend visiting from San Francisco and it was great catching up. The weather changed into beautiful sunny, balmy weather. I was gifted three rose plants that are still alive and I made the husband buy me a Valentine’s present (of course a book). Read on, to discover more! Much love and hope you had a great February.

 

This is my month in review :

The Books I read in February:

1)The Chalet School in Exile by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

Chalet School in Exile - Elinor M.Brent Dyer

I re-read ‘Chalet School in Exile’ after many years. It stills remains my most favourite Chalet School book with the thrilling flight from Austria at the outset of WW2 forming part of the plot line. What made reading the book even more special was reading in this unabridged Girls Gone By edition that contained a chapter I had never read before. What a treat!

 

William by E.H. Young

William by EH. Young

My first time reading an E.H. Young novel did not disappoint. Dealing with the topic of parental expectation and differential reactions to the news of a child’s decision to leave her husband and live with a lover, the book ‘William’ has discourses on morality that are deep and meaningful. Definitely going on my list as a contender for Best Books of 2020.

The Duke’s Children by Anthony Trollope

I was able to complete ‘The Duke’s Children’ by Anthony Trollope in the space of one calendar month. Yay! This was another book about the reactions of parent’s to the decisions their children make in choosing their life partners. I thought it was a fitting ending to the concluding book in the Palliser series.

Ichigo Ichie by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Ichigo Ichie by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

‘Ichigo Ichie’ by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles was my non-fiction pick of the month. The book describes the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie- or the art of cherishing each and every moment in life. I found it a helpful and comforting book.

Mixed Media in February

Podcasts

I listened to ‘Reading Resolutions’ – the January podcast from Slightly Foxed. Also Episode 81 of ‘Tea or Books’ – Style vs Plot and Living vs Loving by Henry Green. Though I haven’t read Henry Green, Simon and Rachel’s discourse didn’t leave me overly enthusiastic to put Henry Green’s novels on the TBR, any time soon.

Movies

I actually got to see Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ at the cinema. I’ve written about it in the blogpost listed below. I absolutely loved it!

As I enjoy watching old black and white movies the most and don’t have the ability to concentrate on movies for protracted periods of time anymore, I’ve resolved this issue by watching movies in short bursts – whenever I have some downtime during the day. This month I watched ‘Meet John Doe’ by Frank Capra and I highly recommend it. The story is so heartwarming and the acting very good.

I’m looking forward to watching a few more next month as I easily get bored of many of the Netflix dramas.

Music

Our song of the month was ‘Senorita’ by Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendes. This is a song that definitely makes you want to dance. On YouTube I’ve been watching the channel ‘Our Stupid Reactions’. A group of Americans react to videos on Indian culture. I find the videos very entertaining and enjoy the appreciation of our rich Indian culture, especially those on Indian Classical music.

What I Bought or Received in February

Book Haul - February 2020

Here are the second-hand books I bought or received in February. Some of course are my daughter’s but we always agree to share.

1) The Full Colour Edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘The First Four Years’ and

2) The Full Colour Edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘On the Banks of Plum Creek

3) ‘The Vicar’s Daughter’ by E.H. Young

4) ‘The Runaways’ (alternative title ‘Linnets and Valerians’) by Elizabeth Goudge

5) ‘White Boots’ by Noel Streatfeild

I also asked my husband for a Valentine’s Day present (shameless, I know!) and his gift was

6) ‘Bookworm’ by Lucy Mangan

Books received from publishers included:

7) ‘Ichigo Ichie’By Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles (gifted review copy)

8) ‘Business as Usual’ by Jane Oliver and Ann Stafford (Handheld Press e-book gifted for review)

Posts I Published in February

I published three posts in February. The first – January Month in Review. The second post was an ode to watching the new Little Women movie. Lastly, a book review of the magical, fairytale – ‘A City of Bells’.

Diary of the Ordinary Happenings of a Kolkatan Lady – January 2020

Love and Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Little Women’

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott - Love

Elizabeth Goudge’s Magical ‘A City of Bells’

A City of Bells - Elizabeth Goudge

The Highpoint of February

The high point of February was meeting up with a schoolfriend on her annual visit to Kolkata. She lives in the USA and five of our friends met up for a Valentine’s Day brunch and we did a gift swap. I came home with a lot of good memories, essential oils, face masks, body cream and tea.

 

Favourite Book Quote of February

“In my experience when people once begin to read they go on. They begin because they think they ought to and they go on because they must. They find it widens life. We’re all greedy for life, you know, and our short span of existence can’t give us all that we hunger for, the time is too short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience all life vicariously.”

~ Grandfather from ‘A City of Bells’

 

Ichigo Ichie was received as a review copy from Hachette India but all opinions are my own.

January 2020 – Month in Review

 

My January Diary

January was a month of new beginnings. On the work front I had new things to learn and new projects to embark on and they kept me very (pleasantly) busy. I was also craving good book discussions and participated in two readalongs on Instagram. One – was ‘A Winter Away’ by Elizabeth Fair. I read this with a close group of friends and the book was light and it was amusing to share excerpts and peculiarities of character, whilst reading.

The second book I read with the Elizabeth Goudge Book Club on Instagram – ‘A City of Bells’. I had this beautiful first edition sitting on my bookshelf – just crying out to be read. I enjoyed this book so much.

We had two birthdays in the family – my daughter’s and my Mum’s. I bought Amitava Ghosh’s ‘Gun Island’ for my mum because she is a huge fan.

Mid-January, the husband and I had four nights of attending Dover Lane Music Conference – an Indian classical musical soirée in Kolkata. Two nights, we stayed up all night and walked home as the sky was turning pink at dawn. There is nothing so uplifting as music and is so needed to lift one’s spirits. I’ll think of the good music I listened to and it will make me happy when I remember it throughout the remainder of the year.

The weather has been unseasonably cold in Kolkata. That, and perhaps the new flat is rather chilly! Whatever the reason – I finally caved and bought a space heater. We celebrated Republic Day with Subway Chicken Tikka sandwiches and Dutch chocolate ice-cream. There was a holiday deal. Sandwiches are the highpoint of our (Meli and my) fast-food life!

Meli spent most of January practicing for Sports Day at her school. She is reading aloud ‘Little House on the Prairie’ to her grandmother, who is visiting at the moment.

I hope you all had a good start to the New Year.

 

This is my month in review :

The Books I read in January

A City of Bells - Elizabeth Goudge

1) ‘A City of Bells’ by Elizabeth Goudge

I read ‘A City of Bells’ with the Elizabeth Goudge Book Club on Instagram. The lady who hosts the readalong accompanies the books with wonderful images taken from the scenes of the book… in this case the city of Wells, England. This definitely helps to make the book come alive.

’A City of Bells’ was such a charming book. Very well written, a nice plot that was engaging to the last and a host of very endearing characters. And the best of all! The story contained a quaint little bookshop. How can a bibliophile not love a book with a bookstore in it? More on the book later… as I hope to review it in depth.

2) ‘The Prime Minister’ by Anthony Trollope

I’ve been listening to Trollope’s ‘The Prime Minister’ on audible for a few months now. I finally managed to finish the book in January and enjoyed it overall. I think the fact that the central character had a very dislikeable personality deterred me from listening to the book. Sometimes, his vices and personality got too much for me. The book is the fourth in Trollope’s famous ‘Palliser Chronicles’. The most important themes in the book were politics and a greed to make easy money.

3) ‘A Winter Away’ by Elizabeth Fair

Elizabeth Fair - A Winter Away

 

4) ‘The New Chalet School’ by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer

I read ‘The New Chalet School’ in an Armada paperback version and it is abruptly cut short at the end. I will have to search for the next Armada book ‘A United Chalet School’ where the story continues to satisfactorily resolve the story. Next month I will pick the most momentous book in the series – ‘The Chalet School in Exile’ and I have an unabridged Girls Gone By Publishing edition that contains the missing chapters of the Armada editions. As ‘Exile’ is my favourite book in the series, I am VERY excited to proceed.

 

Mixed Media in January

I didn’t watch much television at all in January but did manage to watch a few episodes of ‘The Crown’ on Netflix. Particularly haunting, was the tragedy that befalls a Welsh mining town. Meli and my Mum are re watching episodes of ‘Anne with an E’. I hope to catch up with the newly released third season soon.

I was ever so hopeful that the ‘Little Women’ movie would come to theatres in Kolkata but it hasn’t and I’m still hopeful and waiting!…

Meli and I have discovered Maroon Five’s ‘Memories’. Quite distressingly, Meli has also picked up the lyrics which might not be the most appropriate for an eight year old …

I listened to the Slightly Foxed podcast. Episodes that I enjoyed included Episode 13 (Nature and Story) and Episode 14 (The Vital Spark). The latter was a very engrossing discussion on what sparks a lifelong love of reading. This is a topic very much after my own heart as I take great efforts to encourage Meli to read.

The husband and I spent four very lovely evenings (and in two instances whole nights) at the 68th Dover Lane Music Conference in Kolkata. It’s an Indian classical music conference held every year in our city and I attended the event after many years. My favourites were a Double Violin recital by L Shenkar and a vocal recital from Ustad Rashid Khan.

 

What I Made in January

Noel Streatfeild - Laura Ingalls Wilder

I made a delicious chocolate banana almond bread in January. Although we enjoyed it, I still found it on the dry side and will be tweaking the recipe further.

I also baked a chocolate layer cake with coffee chocolate icing for Meli’s birthday. It was delicious and not too heavy on the icing at all, which we like. Meli loves to have Cadbury Gems (or M&M’s/ Smarties) spell out the birthday number on the cake. I’ve been doing this since she was a small child and she loves the tradition.

I’ve been making and drinking a lot of cardamom milk tea this January. I find it very soothing to drink during the colder months. Simply boil pierced cardamom pods in water, add strong black tea and gently simmer for about 5 mins on the stove top. Add milk and sugar to taste and then serve.

 

What I Bought or Received in January

January Book Haul - Laura Ingalls Wilder- Enid Blyton

I purchased books for the 8 year old’s birthday, because as she says herself – books make the best presents. The books I gave her were Noel Streatfeild’s ‘Holiday Stories’. I was a bit naughty in that I wanted this beautiful book for myself but I managed to convince my daughter that she would enjoy it too when I mentioned that one of the stories was labeled ‘Chicken for Supper’. As my daughter loves to eat chicken and food in general, she didn’t need much convincing after that! The second book we gave her for her birthday was a Full Colour Edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ‘By The Shores of Silver Lake’. There was also another old book find – to add to the Famous Five collection. She also received a splendid illustrated edition of ‘The Goblet of Fire’ by J.K. Rowling from a generous uncle.

Books I bought for myself included a second hand copy of E.H. Young’s ‘William’ and two Girls Gone By Publishing stories – ‘Highland Holiday’ by Jane Shaw and ‘Refuge for the Chalet School’ by Amy Fletcher.

 

Posts I Published in January

Milton Place - Elisabeth de Waal - Persephone Books

I regained my blogging mojo in January and published a few posts that I’ve listed below:

6 Tips to Overcome the Post-Christmas Blues

The Faded Glory of the Old English Country House: Milton Place by Elisabeth de Waal

Best Books of 2019

The Highpoint of the Month

Brown paper packages

I received a wondrous package from two dear Instagram friends – Kathy (kstarnes on Instagram) and Shelbi (the nobbylife on Instagram). I spent a whole afternoon opening the parcel and enjoying its contents while sipping on a cup of tea. The wrapping was so pretty that I had to take a flat-lay photograph to share. The books are highly coveted vintage editions of O. Douglas – out of print and hard to find. I love them so much. I feel very grateful to have such considerate friends.

O Douglas - The Setons - Priorsford

Favourite Book Excerpt of the Month

“I think it will last,” said Grandfather. “In my experience when people once begin to read they go on. They begin because they think they ought to and they go on because they must. Yes. They find it widens life. We’re all greedy for life, you know, and our short span of existence can’t give us all that we hunger for, the time is too short and our capacity not large enough. But in books we experience all life vicariously.”

~ ‘A City of Bells’ by Elizabeth Goudge

December 2015, Book Wrap Up

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Here is a round up of book related favourites for the month of December, 2015. For a glimpse into November, 2015’s Bookish Favourites please see here.

1. Books

 I  read a total of five books in December.

1) The Sweet Dove Died (4/5*) by Barbara Pym.

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#currentlyreading 'The Sweet Love Died' by the inimitable Barbara Pym. (By the way, could we have a vote for the ugliest book cover ever?!😀) ——————————————– 'How do you think of me, then?' Leonora asked. 'Just living in your perfect house, leading a gracious and elegant life,' said Meg. 'It's hard to explain,' she said, seeing a shadow of displeasure cross Leonora's face. 'You make me sound hardly human, like a kind of fossil,' Leonora protested. ———————————- Leonora Eyre, a middle-aged woman of independent means, finds herself confronted with the unusual predicament of becoming romantically entangled with a uncle and nephew pair. Both the uncle and nephew vie for her attention and when she chooses to bestow her affection on the young nephew, she is confronted with the unhappy truth that she may not be in a position to have a future with him.

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2) The Thirty Nine Steps (4.5/5*) by John Buchan.

3) Emma- A Modern Retelling (3.5/5*) by Alexander McCall Smith.

4) Mystery in White (4/5*) by J. Jefferson Farjeon .

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The gloaming hour is upon us. Time to light up those golden candles, forsake the 'to do list', sip the warming honey green tea and slip into that delicious mystery novel that is set on the eve of Christmas. Several passengers are stuck on a train that gets trapped in the snow on Christmas Eve. Some passengers, rather foolishly, decide to venture out into the blizzard enveloping the immediate countryside. They stumble upon an empty country house and decide to seek shelter there. The fire is lit, the tea table set and the kettle is on the boil. But the owner of the house is nowhere to be seen. Trapped in the house due to the deep, all encompassing snow, there is an eerie sense of impending doom surrounding the house and it's inhabitants. What will happen next? ——————————————– 'Mystery in White' by J Jefferson Farjeon is a terrific, atmospheric read. Reading this as a buddy read with my dear friend @louised_1987 and so far, I think we both agree it is a terrific book!

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5) Britannia Mews by Margery Sharp.

2. Blogposts

 I published nine blogposts excluding this round-up post this month. Two were reviews of  children’s books: The Story of Babar and Miss Rumphius. The rest included reviews of the books-  Family Roundabout and Illyrian Spring. I also published bookish list posts: 12 New Authors I Would Like to Read in 2016Top 10 books of 201512 Classics I Want to Read in 20165 Endearing Christmastime Scenes from the Best Children’s Books and 2015: A Diary of Reading in 30 Instagram Pictures.

I wrote a blogpost for Mustlovefestivals.com interviewing the Latvian Tourism Board regarding the best upcoming Latvian Festivals in 2016. It was lovely chatting to Lelde Benke and learning about the Staro Riga Festival of Lights and the Cesis Town Fair.

3. Movies

The whole family sat down to watch ‘Home Alone‘ and the recent Disney adaptation of ‘Cinderella‘ during Christmas time. We adults watched ‘Brief Encounter‘ directed by David Lean. I highly recommend this movie, adapted from a minor play by Noel Coward. After reading Buchan’s ‘Thirty-nine Steps‘ we also watched the Hitchcock film by the same name. The story has been slightly modified for the big screen but both the book and film are exceptional.

4. Audiobooks

 I listened to the excellent BBC dramatization of Dodie Smith’s ‘Dear Octopus’ on BBC radio this month. I also listened to the BBC dramatization of a ‘Brief Encounter‘.

5. Miscellaneous

I purchased a number of Noel Coward plays on audible this month.

I did a few paintings for my art journal on Instagram.  It is my favourite social media platform!

Wish you all a very happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year!

Have you been reading/listening or watching anything nice this month?

October 2015 Book Wrap Up

vscocam-photo-1
Here is a round up of bookish favourites for the month of October, 2015. For a glimpse into September, 2015’s Bookish Favourites look here.

1. Books

The month of October was a fine month for reading. After reading only two books in September I managed to read a grand total of nine books! Most of the books were superlative reads.

A Year in Provence (4/5*) by Peter Mayle describes the author’s year long diary style narrative of spending a year in a small village in Provence. The writing style is simple yet descriptive. A beautiful travelogue. I tried to read a chapter a month this year (corresponding to the month described in the book) but decided to finish the book off in October. For a look at my art journal entry based on the cover illustration look here.

The Eye of Love (4.5/5*) by Margery Sharp. This is an unusual, quirky, humorous fairytale romance story. An unlikely hero (portly, middle-aged Henry Gibson) and an unlikely heroine (angular, past her prime Dolores Diver) meet at a Chelsea Arts Ball dressed as a brown paper parcel and Spanish dancer respectively. Thus springs an unusual decade long love affair that is threatened by economic situations. Enter an unemotional orphaned niece with a large appetite for food and drawing random objects, a few unusual characters and situations, lots of candor, romance and intelligence and you have the makings of a fine novel. ‘The Eye of Love’ by Margery Sharp is a fantastic read. For a full review click here

A Murder is Announced (4/5*) by Agatha Christie. This is Christie at her best. A Murder is Announced is a Miss Marple story. In the small village of Chipping Cleghorn a murder is announced in the local gazette. The murder will take place at 6.30 pm on October 29th at Little Paddocks.Various neighbours and members of the household gather in the living room at the stipulated time. The lights go out at the exact time announced and a masked intruder charges into the room and orders everyone to stick their hands up. A gun shot is fired and when the lights turn on, the hooded guest is found dead on the floor. The motive behind the killing forms the core of the mystery. I enjoyed the structure of the story. Each chapter led us methodically, deeper and deeper into the mystery. Cozy, delicious details of village life in the Cotwolds interspersed the detecting. Miss Marple at her very best! A very enjoyable read.

84 Charing Cross Road (5/5*) by Helene Hanff. This is an account of the correspondence between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer in New York and Frank Doel, an employee of a used antiquarian bookstore in London. The correspondence is spread over the years 1949 to 1969, documenting the lively dialogue between two people, with nothing in common but a knowledge and love of good books. Set in the years after World War II, the reader is treated to an insight of the reality of what it was like to live in the aftermath of the war. The book is funny and poignant and shows how people separated by great distance and circumstances can nonetheless, touch each others lives and create the most beautiful of relationships.For a full review click here.

The Priory (5/5*) by Dorothy Whipple.

“She saw for the first time that the history of Saunby was a sad one. It had been diverted from its purpose; it had been narrowed from a great purpose to a little one. It had been built for the service of God and the people; all people, but especially the poor.”

‘The Priory’ is the story of how the future of Saunby Priory might be diverted to recover the livelihoods, dignity and self-worth of a large community of people, united in their purpose. It is a beautiful novel, worthy of the highest praise. For a full review click here

Inspector French’s Greatest Case (4/5*) by Freeman Wills Crofts. I reviewed Inspector French’s Greatest Case by Freeman Wills Crofts as part of  Simon from Stuck in a Book’s #The1924Club. In the second half of October everyone was asked to review books published in 1924. The link to the complete list of blogger reviews is here.
In ‘Inspector French’s Greatest Case’ we are introduced to a case of murder that occurs at the offices of Duke and Peabody, a diamond merchant located at Hatton Garden in London. On a cold night in the middle of November, the body of an employee, by the name of Mr. Charles Gething is discovered prostrate on the floor in the inner office of Mr. Duke. Mr. Duke’s large Milner safe has been ransacked with the loss of thirty-three thousand pounds worth of diamonds and a thousand pounds in bank notes. Mr. Gething has undoubtedly been murdered as evidenced from the ugly wound made to the back of the skull by a blunt instrument.
The theft of the diamonds and money previously secured in the safe are the motive behind the murder. To investigate the case, Inspector French of the Criminal Investigation Department of New Scotland Yard is called in. For a full review of the book click here.

Dying in the Wool by (3/5*) by Frances Brody. This a ‘cozy’ mystery set in post World War I Yorkshire. It is the first in the detective series starring an amateur sleuth- Kate Shackleton. In this case, Kate investigates the inexplicable disappearance of the father of an old friend of hers. The man in question, was a fabric mill owner. Though the characters in the story were well drawn and the details of the period depicted sounded authentic, the story failed to grip me.

Martha in Paris (4/5*) by Margery Sharp. This is the second book in the ‘Martha Trilogy’ of Margery Sharp , the first of which was ‘The Eye of Love’. In this book we find that the unusual character of Martha has grown up. She is eighteen and about to embark on an adventure. She is to stay in Paris for two whole years to study art. This short book is quirky and funny and made me laugh frequently. It also made me ponder about the trials and tribulations of falling in love with a person with an artistic temperament.

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (5/5*) by Julia Strachey. This is the most unusual book I have read this year yet so very wonderful. This is a Persephone Classic. It describes at length the wedding day of a young girl who is reluctant to get married. The bride takes to glugging a bottle of Jamaica Rum in her bedroom to quell her fears whilst downstairs a strange collective of characters have assembled to participate in the wedding celebrations. There are eccentric relatives, friends, a former beau who wishes to propose and yet is not certain of himself and a bevy of peculiar servants who help in the wedding preparations. The book is interspersed with memorable dialogues. I highly recommend this book!

2. Blogposts

Most of the blogposts this month were book reviews. I published eight book reviews excluding this round-up post this month. Four were reviews of children’s books: Blueberries for Sal, Tuesday, Goodnight Moon and Owl Moon. The remaining four were reviews of ‘grown-up’ books- including The Eye of Love, Inspector French’s Greatest Case, 84 Charing Cross Road and The Priory.

3. Movies

Since I devoted most of my evening leisure time to reading I didn’t watch as many movies or TV series as usual. I did watch dramatizations of Miss Marple’s A Murder is Announced (starring Geraldine McEwan), 84 Charing Cross Road (I was not a fan of Anne Bancroft’s acting; I felt it was slightly too affected), a re-watch of Far From the Madding Crowd starring Carey Mulligan (the movie makes me want to re-read the book), Testament of Youth (re-watch) and Hocus Pocus on Halloween.

4. Audiobooks

 I started listening to Alan Bradley’s book ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’ on audio starring a young detective Flavia de Luce. This was fresh on the heels of completing the brilliant audio series ‘In and Out the Kitchen’ written by Miles Jupp.

5. Miscellaneous

 I bought a few books this month. These included a second hand book purchase of some beautiful books of the Emily of New Moon series by L.M. Montgomery. To take a look at the beautiful book covers click here. I also found two e-books from the British Library of Crime Classics series on sale – they are the Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston and Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries by Martin Edwards

6. Next Month

I am devoting the majority of next month’s books to reading Children’s Literature for #ReadKidsLit. I hope to discover/ rediscover the joy of childhood tales. Here is a peek at next month’s ‘TBR’ pile.

Wish you all a happy and bookish November!