Monday 17 February 2020

I hope you've been safe and warm through the visits by Ciara and Dennis in recent days - open fires, steaming cups of tea and toast, and a comfy chair as you curl up with a good book, perhaps?

It's been frustrating not to get out on the river or enjoy a woodland walk this weekend but sometimes, though, we have to accept these interruptions to our plans.

This is the message of my recommended non-fiction title this week 'Wintering' by Katherine May.

The author talks of how she was brought up short when family illness caused her to reassess her hopes and plans for the future. What had appeared a sunny outlook was now the barren, cold wasteland of winter.

"Everybody winters at one time or another," she says and suggests we join her in learning how to invite it in, and to appreciate its healing powers. Don't migrate to a warmer climate, pushing winter away. Embrace the changes it brings. Think of how an ice pack brings relief to an injured joint, she says.

The author has visited Scandinavia and swum in the North Sea to bring us moments of wisdom and enlightenment. So put on another jumper and read my review to find out more!


Monday 6 January 2020

The global situation and news of recent events make the usual new year greeting sound rather hollow. We live in troubling times.

It is all the more reason, perhaps, that we should turn to books as an opportunity for escape and enlightenment, entertainment and education.

I hope you'll join me in the coming months as we unpack what we're reading through book group discussions and on BBC Radio Suffolk book club.

I'll be bringing various authors and publishers to the area and we'll be able to ask them for their insight, understanding and perspective on numerous topics and themes.

And I also plan to make a recommendation each week (or perhaps one a month, I'll see how we go!) for an inspirational and informative non-fiction title which has certainly set me thinking and I hope will prove helpful to you too. This week it's 'Hello World' by Hannah Fry revealing the increasing impact of algorithms on all our lives.

Thursday 5 December 2019

I love this time of year when we can draw the curtains, light the fire and hunker down with a good book.

We're spoilt for choice this year with some fantastic novels, memoirs and children's books to choose from. So it was even more difficult to select just a few recommendations for Lesley Dolphin as we met on the BBC Radio Suffolk Afternoon Programme this month to consider gifts for Christmas.

Of course I got carried away in my descriptions, so I didn't mention as many books as I intended. But I've listed them here and you can click and follow the links to my reviews, if you'd like to know more! And listen again to our chat here.

Don't forget too to sign up too my weekly e-newsletter here which gives latest news about author visits and books I'm reading. And browse my website for other reviews and recommendations.

And if it's not too early - Happy Christmas!

Personal stories

Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed by Catriona Davies

My Penguin Year by Lindsay McCrae

Lady in Waiting by Lady Anne Glenconner


Invisible Jumpers by Joseph Ford

Local interest

Life on the Deben


The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the The Horse by Charlie Macksey

Children's books

Kind by Alison Green (for under 5 years, and adult!)

Potkin and Stubbs and The Haunting of Peligan City by Sophie Green (for readers aged 9+)

The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher (for readers aged 9+)


Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Grandmothers by Salley Vickers

Stanley and Elsie and Sorry for the Dead by Nicola Upson


Quick Roasting Tin Simple One Dish Dinners

Wednesday 18 September 2019

After taking a bit of summer break from organising author events this year, we were back on track with a sell out audience for the fabulous Martin Walker this week.

These lunchtime crime writer sessions at Woodbridge Library are always well received, but this time we found ourselves hearing more about Burgundy than bodies as Martin delighted us with his descriptions of life at home in France. The food, the drink, the gardening, friendships, culture and way of life sounded wonderful, and of course it is all replicated in Martin's marvellous Death in the Dordogne series of books about Bruno the chief of police.

There was much laughter and everyone left telling me their spirits had been lifted.

So now we're looking ahead to another packed schedule of events. Next week we'll all be sitting up straight as we hear military historian Max Hastings bring us up to speed on his findings about the Dambusters, and a couple of days later we'll be pondering the extraordinary life of artist Stanley Spencer through the novel of Nicola Upson. It's a beautiful book and Nicola is such a warm and engaging speaker. If you're a fan of her Josephine Tey series of crime novels, you must come along to hear about 'Stanley and Elsie'.

And the dates for November are filling up. I've just released the tickets for Lindsay McCrae, the awardwinning BBC cameraman and his illustrated talk on 'My Penguin Year'. Having read an early proof of the book, I have to tell you it's fantastic! I can't wait to meet him to learn more, and I'm sure we'll get a large and attentive audience for that event in the library. Then the next day, cricket raconteur Henry Blofeld will be in the bookshop to sign copies of his latest book 'My A-Z of Cricket', a perfect Christmas present...

Yes, the summer's over, the children are back at school, and we're looking at the end of September already. Is it just me, or is time moving along too quickly? Important to get the dates in the diary straightaway then - don't want to miss hearing all these inspiring and fascinating authors!! Find out more by signing up to my mailing list here.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Posters for the dayIt was a busy day on Tuesday 7 May, as I hosted two author visits in the same day.

And they couldn't have been more different, yet were equally inspiring, entertaining and informative.

At lunchtime in Woodbridge library, we gathered to meet the hugely popular, bestselling crime writer John Connolly. He spoke at breakneck speed, but we were hanging on every word. I, for one, was particularly intrigued by his insights on the writing process. He told us that he has no unfinished works - he believes that it is essential for creative people never to abandon a project but always to see it to its conclusion.

In the evening, we were at Browsers Bookshop to hear first-time biographer, Oliver Soden talk about his experience discovering and relating the life of the great composer, Michael Tippett.

His 700 page account of the man behind the music has been receiving much attention and praise, and I was thrilled that we had such an appreciative audience, spanning the age range from GCSE students to wise retirees.

I've had tremendous feedback - we were all completely engrossed by all Oliver had to share with us, and we are sure he will go far. A very talented young man and a very memorable and magical evening.

If you missed these events, I hope you'll be able to join us in the future. You can sign up for my mailing list here to be among the first to know of forthcoming author visits. You can also read my reports of past events here.

John Connelly and Oliver Soden speaking
John Connolly and Oliver Soden speaking in Woodbridge