Blog

Here’s why I ♥ Easter…

I’ve come to the conclusion that Easter is my new favourite holiday.

  1. It’s spring and the air smells like the freedom of school holidays when you walk outside in the morning.
  2. Flowers. £1 bunches of daffodils. Buy ten and you’ve got yourself a gaudy abundance.
  3. Painting eggs: Table covered in newspaper, blobs of acrylic paint, boiled eggs, no idea what to paint, this year champagne, dropping one and cracking it, easy chat because there’s no eye contact – like a walk – talking side by side. Mixed results. Please don’t let mine be the one no one eats!
  4. Easter day. Russian heritage means we always have a traditional Easter breakfast of a bread called a Kulich served with Paskha (a sort of sugary, raisiny cream cheese). The Kulich spends a night in the airing cupboard growing as high as a ruler, while emotions run high waiting on its success – there’s almost constant worry that half of it will just be a giant air bubble. But then once everyone is sitting and the first slice is cut no one cares what it looks like because it’s so delicious and there’s chat and coffee and a scrabble for the next slice and the kitchen smells of warm, sweet, sugary bread. I ♥ it!

LOOK! NEW BOOK! The Summerhouse by the Sea…

A brand new summery story about returning to your past and finding a new beginning from bestselling author Jenny Oliver!

Every Summer has its own story…51vDEvG5shL

For Ava Fisher, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.

Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella – once the heart of the sleepy seaside village – now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.

Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summerhouse by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed…

The Summerhouse by the Sea is available to preorder from all good eBook stores and will be out in the shops on May 18th! 

Kindle                     iBooks                     Google Play                    Kobo

Time For a Nose: It’s Holiday Photo Time!

I’ve just come back from a holiday in France. We stayed with friends in Paris and then (after an almost divorce inducing navigation of the Périphérique Paris ring road) journeyed on down to a tiny countryside village called Thuringy. There we helped another friend in their annual wood-chopping, a process that involves chainsawing previously felled branches and stacking the wood which will fuel their fire the following winter. In return we are treated to amazing home-cooked food and eye-watering home-brewed ‘Eau de vie’! It’s a weekend of fresh countryside air in idyllic surroundings (ignoring the constant whir of a chainsaw) and creating the most precise stack of wood that is never more than a meticulous one metre high and one metre wide. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship because while they thank us profusely for our hard work when we leave, we’re thanking them profusely for the food, silent (flight-path-free) nights, lethal alcohol and digital detox (more of this in The Summerhouse by the Sea which, incidentally, you can pre-order now!) There’s also nothing like the incessant drone of a chainsaw (them) and the lifting and stacking of hundreds of pieces of wood (us) to leave the brain free to plot the next book, so now I’m back it’s straight to work. But I just thought as I’m a HUGE fan of nosing at other people’s holiday photos, you might want to have a nose at mine. If not, look away now…

Laughing, trying, weeping, buying, looking, reading, finding, keeping…

LAUGHING…

At Maria Semple’s TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT – sitcom witty in a book. And at Jim Gaffigan on Netflix. I like that he collaborates with his wife.

20170303_124810.jpg

TRYING…

To break old habits and start new. Firstly to read more and check social media less. Every time I go for my phone I have to go to my book instead. I’ve never read more in my life! Currently reading THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR by Jennifer Ryan. Just read the haunting, addictive THE SILENT FOUNTAIN by the brilliant Victoria Fox.

The best way to start a new habit, apparently, is to attach it to an old one. So now a Tuesday nursery drop-off is followed by a jog. So far, so successful. Except when it’s raining, and also except this week when I was home alone and completely exhausted! (So not quite worthy of the title ‘habit’ just yet.)

WEEPING…

Not me but Keith Brymer Jones – I’m loving the new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down and, as always, the tears of ceramic joy.

I have been sobbing quite regularly however to the Desert Island Discs podcast which I am listening to religiously. Emma Bridgewater made me have to pull over in a car park because I couldn’t stop crying. This week Nicole Farhi, June Brown and Ali Smith have made my car and train journeys much more interesting.

BUYING…

Daffodils! And lots of birthday presents. Everyone seems to have been born around now! But I sneaked in a spotty t-shirt from & Other Stories for me.

20170303_124850

LOOKING…

For houses. It’s a nightmare. One house that I’ve coveted for years came on the market for 24 hours then the owners changed their minds about selling. I’m plucking up the courage for a Kirsty and Phil-esque note through the letter box.

READING…

The New York Times

FINDING…

ABSTRACT on Netflix. Whoop whoop!

KEEPING…

My head down too much. When I look up I realise it’s March and Spring. From now on I will make a habit of looking up more (and just hope it’s more successful than the jogging.)

20170303_125245

 

 

 

This month I have been mostly reading and watching…

The first part of this year has involved a lot of reading and film watching! The desire for escapism is at its peak at the moment.

So here are my highlights…

perry-durrant

LIE WITH ME – Sabine Durrant.

Brilliant. Addictive. Clever and witty and sharp, like I was watching in real life. Not a word on the page wasted.

THE ESSEX SERPENT – Sarah Perry

I was given this to read. It wouldn’t have been my first choice because I’d have assumed it would take too long and I have very little time. But I was surprised by the pace and the quirks. You can actually whip through it and then go back and linger on the clever, beautiful bits. A bundle of unique characters all vividly still with you long after the book is finished.

20170213_122546THE NAKANO THRIFT SHOP – Hiromi Kawakami

I LOVED this! It was a present and I’ve never read any Japanese translated fiction before but I will now. I realised while reading this that there are some books you want to race through to the end and others that you just want to live inside. You go to bed half an hour early to be in the pages. This for me was that. I just adored being in the gentle, clever, sweet, interesting, intriguing world. A lovely book.

20170213_121258LA LA LAND

I’ve already written a whole piece about this. But I would say, it’s the only film I’ve been to the cinema to see twice. And the only film I’ve been to the cinema to see on my own! Shock horror. But the seal has been broken, I’m going to go solo way more often. It’s very mellow (once you’ve moved away from the people chatting over popcorn through all the emotional bits).

WESTWORLD (TV version)

This was a roller coaster for me. Brilliant at the beginning. Bit slow in the middle and a bit too focused on the violence. Excellent at the end.

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

Completely not what I expected! I sat down thinking it would be all Wes Anderson kooky and then suddenly everyone is running around half-naked killing deer. But it’s really good! And Viggo’s great.

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY

So nice to be back in Bridget’s world. Fall-off-the-sofa funny at times. Best choice at the end but worried that Bridget would still be lonely once credits rolled.

digby-etc

And, in case you’re interested, in the Under 3s world I have enjoyed:

TOPSY AND TIM – massive nostalgia, so strong I can almost taste it.

TOR FREEMAN – Brilliant illustrator.

More SHIRLEY HUGHES – can’t get enough of Alfie and Lucy & Tom

TOY STORY 1, 2 & 3 – just get better every time you watch them (I may live to regret that statement).

 

 

Not a bad start to the year, as far as excellent escapism goes.

J x

Wow! Sunshine & Biscotti is on the RNA Awards shortlist…

Today is a great day. Not only does it feel like spring is in the air, The Sunshine & Biscotti Club has been nominated for The Contemporary Romantic Novel Award at this year’s RoNAs!

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-11-30-47

Woo hoo. I am totally delighted.

There are some fantastic authors on the list and you couldn’t go wrong picking any of them for a little escapism in the sunshine…

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-11-30-02

The only thing now is to work out what to wear to the awards. And only a month to decide!