The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

Mysteries are a genre that I’ve always been curious about but never tried, but I’ve been fascinated by the Bronte sisters ever since I read Wuthering Heights in my teens and I couldn’t resist this when I chanced upon it in a bookshop a wee while ago.

When Elizabeth Chester, the second wife of Yorkshire land owner, Robert Chester, goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the Bronte sisters take it upon themselves to investigate. The narrative switches between Charlotte, Emily and Anne’s perspectives, and their brother Branwell plays a supporting role too.

This is such a clever little mystery about the Bronte sisters investigating a crime and how the details of their detective work might have inspired their own novels. The Vanished Bride is full of governesses, gypsies, ghosts, secrets, scandals and schemes, and at the heart of it all, the three intelligent, imaginative and independent Bronte sisters.

The story is peppered with little details and historical facts about their real lives, and it’s a treat for fans of the Bronte sisters.

This was a departure from my usual reading habits, but one I thoroughly enjoyed. The Vanished Bride is a fun story, full of humour, suspense and twists, that’s perfect for a dark winter eve. X

Winter Solstice Thoughts

It’s been almost impossible to make plans this year, it seems like every time we’ve booked tickets to an event or tried to celebrate a birthday, someone has had to self-isolate or restrictions have increased, and Christmas has been no exception. It’s been quite a rush to get everything ready for Christmas with so much uncertainty hanging over us. In November, much later than I planned, I baked my husband a gluten-free Christmas cake, adapting the recipe from my mum’s scribbled in the margins and bound together by sticky tape BeRo cookbook. Donations have been made to the local food and toy banks. Most of our shopping has been done online this year. We’ve spent evenings at home popping and threading corn to hang on the tree, writing cards and wrapping presents.

We’ve enjoyed evening walks admiring all the Christmas decorations illuminating the neighbourhood, our 10-month-old daughter wide-eyed and fascinated, pointing at all the inflatable Santa’s, snowmen and penguins, lights cast over trees and hedges or outlining roofs and doors, as well as a multitude of twinkling reindeer, stars and candy canes.

After three weeks of zoom classes during our local lockdown, the little one and I were back at baby sensory in time for her Christmas party, which was a lovely way to end a stop-start year.

Christmas will be bittersweet for us personally as it will be the first without my nanna who passed away in February, but also our daughter’s first Christmas. We were already planning a smaller Christmas because of Coronavirus even before the latest restrictions were announced, and it’s not the first Christmas we’d imagined surrounded by family and friends, but we’ll try to fill it with as much love, peace and joy as we can.

Take care, and wishing everyone reading a very happy Christmas whatever your circumstances. X

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

It was just over two years ago that I picked up the first book in the Invisible Library series (reviewed here), intrigued by the cover, title and synopsis, and since then it’s become one of my favourite series as they are such fun stories with compelling characters (from the determined and resourceful librarian, Irene, to her love interest the Dragon Prince, Kai; Vale, the human detective, and even the seductive libertine Fae, Silver), fabulous settings, plenty of action and suspense, humour and lots of original ideas. The Mortal Word is the fifth book in the series, and it’s full of the usual blend of kidnap and assassination attempts as Irene investigates a murder during the negotiation of a peace treaty between the Fae and Dragons.

It’s always fun reading about Irene solving mysteries, uncovering conspiracies and escaping danger, and yet I consider these to be such such cosy, comfort reads. The Mortal Word was full of suspense, atmosphere, humour and a little bit of romance, and I adored the villainous Bloody Countess who was delightfully macabre.

As Irene continues to question her loyalty to the Library and its purpose, this series just keeps gettting better and better, and this was my favourite book so far. As the series progresses, I’m so enjoying seeing the characters (and their relationships with one another) develop, and learning more about the different factions they represent from the Librarians, Fae, Dragons, and, of course, the humans caught in between them all.

In other library related news, this week I learned that our local library, which has been shut since the first lockdown in March, is scheduled to reopen in 2021. I’ve always believed that libraries are such a valuable community resource, and I’m delighted that we’ll have one within walking distance again soon. Take care, and have a lovely week. X

Winter Wanders

Our area is still under lockdown but we’ve been enjoying some wintry walks with frosts, a light snowfall and temperatures hovering around zero this week. We recently visited Pollok Country Park starting early enough to see rays of sunlight breaking through the mist over the river on a cool and crisp morning, cold hands curled around cups of hot coffee while exploring the grounds. It was a lovely park to wander and a pleasant change from our local parks, though I think my husband was more excited to see the Highland cows (his favourite animal apparently) than our animal-loving daughter.

On Thursday, we woke to a very light dusting of snow that had frozen overnight. I spent a little bit of time crunching around the frozen garden with my daughter snuggled up close in her carrier, decorating our little apple trees with fairy lights and glittery baubles, checking on the sprouts and refilling the bird feeder.

I spent the rest of the day cosy inside decorating the Christmas tree with festive music playing in the background, a playful cat and inquisitive infant scampering around underfoot. I always enjoy unpacking the baubles and trinkets as most of them were handpicked on holidays or trips to the Christmas market or received as gifts, and have so much sentimental value attached to them. The most recent addition is a glass bauble that I bought during our first family trip to Pitlochry in October.

We were up bright and early this morning for a walk in a frosty winter wonderland, and we were rewarded for venturing out into subzero temperatures by the sight of a heron standing in the partially frozen pond at our local park. Take care, and have a lovely week. X