Snow, Reading, Closet Sorting, More Reading.

I’ve been home from New Brunswick for a week now, and I feel as if my life is in some sort of “Ground Hog Day” loop. Plans made, plans cancelled, snow, more snow, and tons of reading. With a bit of closet sorting thrown in.

When I was in Fredericton, my sister Carolyn’s and my plans to drive to Nova Scotia to visit our other sister were scuppered due to the weather. We had a ton of snow, freezing rain, and more snow. Thank goodness for a kind neighbour who came with his big tractor and blew out the long driveway so we could get out. I mean, we had a no-milk-for-tea situation that could have escalated into a crisis. Ha.

Mum’s usual evening visitors were less troubled by the snow than we were, as you can see in the short video below. They’re lovely aren’t they?

Still, despite the weather I managed to squeeze in a coffee date with old friends out in Marysville where we all grew up. One blustery and freezing evening, my sister and I had dinner at my favourite place on Queen Street in downtown Fredericton. The Palate restaurant never disappoints. On another day, also freezing, my friend Debbie and I followed up a bit of shopping at Wasted Fashion, one of my favourite Fredericton shops, with lunch at a cozy spot further down Queen Street. At 540 Kitchen and Bar, the food was delicious. And Deb and I settled into a booth for a good old natter. Every time I’m home lately I marvel at what a lovely city Fredericton is, and how it now boasts lots of sweet restaurants with great food, good independent stores, and more community events than I remember when I lived there.

It’s funny, as I was writing that last paragraph, I almost wrote that 540 Kitchen was “down street.” Back in the day we always said “down street” or “up street” when referring to locations in downtown Fredericton. I guess the terms evolved from upriver and downriver, since the streets in the older part of Fredericton run parallel to the banks of the Saint John River. Back when we were kids, if Mum had to visit Levine’s Department store on her lunch hour, she’d always say, “I had to run upstreet today.”

I love those old expressions. I grew up on the north side of the river. Downtown is on the south side. When we were teenagers we always said we were going “over town” shopping, instead of downtown. And when we drove to visit family near Perth-Andover, we said we were going “upriver.” I could not tell you whether something was north or south or east of anything else. But I always knew if it was upriver or downriver.

While we were snowed in, Carolyn and I squeezed in an edit of her closet. That was fun. We lugged everything into the livingroom, sorted sweaters from blouses and shirts, from jeans and bottoms, from tee shirts etc. She tried everything on, we made decisions, and sorted pieces into categories. No way/donate immediately, love/will definitely wear, and okay/but need to find a way to wear.

Then we arranged her spring stuff on her bed: teeshirts, sweaters, and tops folded neatly along the bottom of the bed. Then jeans, pants etc. across the middle of the bed. And finally jackets, blazers, and “third pieces” across the top. Then we stood back and drew mental lines between the pieces. What could work with what to make an outfit. Then we made a short shopping list of her most urgent needs/wants before hanging everything back up in the closet or folding it into drawers. So she has several outfits that will work in the short term and which she’s excited to wear now, and a loose plan to move forward. That was time well spent, in my opinion.

I had more downtime when I was in Fredericton than I usually do. I read a ton. In fact there was more reading than I wanted. But that’s life, eh? And spring in Canada.

I was looking forward to better weather and a resumption of normal spring activities when I came home to Ottawa. Ha. One convivial walking and coffee date with my two walking buddies aside, resumption of spring activities has been pretty much a bust. Yep. Weather again.

And this is just the beginning.

Specifically spring storms. Wind, wind, and more wind, cold temperatures and a big dump of snow late last week. My breakfast event was cancelled… twice. I never did get to wear the spring outfit I’d planned in my last post, and wouldn’t have even if the event had gone ahead. Too darned cold! So I stayed at home, pedalled my exercise bike instead of walking, and indulged in reading. And more reading.

All is not lost. I mean, one can put up with a lot if one has good books to listen to, and to read. And for the past two weeks I’ve been lucky in that respect.

I read and loved the latest Jane Casey book The Outsider. I’m a fan of Jane Casey. I love the characters in her Maeve Kerrigan series, specifically Maeve herself and her friend and colleague Josh Derwent. Derwent is kind of a brilliant creation of Casey’s, in that while we deplore his sexist views and his frequent pompous pronouncements, we still love his character. Or at least I do. I’ve read or listened to all of this series in the past few years. The Outsider focuses on a character from the early books, Maeve’s ex-boyfriend and Josh’s ex-friend Rob, who now works undercover.

I dove into a new series thanks to a recommendation from Wendy from York. Tim Sullivan’s DS Cross series is swiftly becoming a favourite of mine. DS George Cross is a brilliant murder detective in Bristol, with the best conviction rate in his force. But he is not well-liked and found difficult to work with by his colleagues. That’s because he’s socially awkward, obsessed with detail, and often inscrutable to others. Except his father and those few colleagues who know him best. And who know that he is on the autism spectrum. Previously he would have been classified as having asperger syndrome, but that word has fallen out of favour with the medical community, supplanted by the term “level 1 autism spectrum disorder.” source.

I think that Tim Sullivan handles the character of George Cross brilliantly, and sensitively. We actually begin to love DS Cross even while we recognize that he can be infuriating. His behaviour brings to mind several kids I taught over the years. Some of them before we knew much about Asperger Syndrome in the teaching profession. I just remember that I grew to love these kids who struggled with their own abilities and challenges and who faced a world which baffled them with courage and dogged persistence.

Anyhow, I digress. The Tim Sullivan books I’ve read are: The Dentist, The Cyclist, and I’m currently listening to The Patient. I highly recommend Sullivan’s books, in case I didn’t make that clear. Ha.

The other books which I’ve been listening to are by another new-to-me writer, T.A. Williams. William’s character, recently retired Metropolitan Police detective DCI Dan Armstrong, heads to Tuscany to attend a writing retreat holiday gifted to him by his former colleagues. Estranged from his wife, heading for divorce, and trying to navigate a life without his job as a senior detective, Dan Armstrong hopes that he can start a new career as a writer. What he finds in Tuscany instead is murder. But also new friends (human and canine), a new home, and hopefully a new life. Seriously… a book about Italy, food, wine, writing, and murder… what could be better? I’m really enjoying this series. So far I’ve listened to Murder in Tuscany, and Murder in Chianti.

The other day I was feeling bereft because I had powered my way through a book I really enjoyed and then wondered… as readers do… what next? So I reached back to see what writers Hubby and I have liked but whom we haven’t read lately. And I came up with Scottish writer Christopher Brookmyre. How is it that he fell off my radar?

I distinctly remember waiting and waiting for a follow-up book in his Jasmine Sharp series. Jasmine is a private detective in Glasgow. Gosh I loved that series. Jasmine is so unlucky, so smart, so, well, plucky… she puts me in mind of P.D. James’ character Cordelia Grey. In one book, Jasmine’s car has been blown up, the insurance company refuses to pay, has its arm twisted by a dodgy and unlikely ally of Jasmine, and she receives a belated cheque in the mail. Remember the line, “shoppiness ensued?” Gad, I loved that. I’m sure I stole that line and used it in a fashion post.

When no more Jasmine Sharp books were forthcoming, I embarked on several of Brookmyre’s Jack Parlabane books. Parlabane is an investigative journalist, somewhat hapless, and definitely dodgy.

And now I am currently reading Chris Brookmyre’s 2020 novel The Cut. It’s all about the horror movie industry, unlikely friendships, and miscarriages of justice, and like most Brookmyre’s books is filled with great characters, dark humour, and lines which make me think…”I wish I’d said that.”

So, I can safely say that the weather around here has been shitty. If you’ll excuse the profanity. And it was shitty in Fredericton. I know, more profanity. And all this shitty weather (there I go again) resulted in reading, more reading, and even more reading.

I’ll admit that I am looking forward to doing less reading in the next two weeks. At least of the sedentary, sitting on my butt, kind. That doesn’t mean I will not be listening to good books while I walk. Fingers are crossed we get decent walking weather, at least for a few days. To misquote Chris Brookmyre, I hope when the temperatures warm up later in the week, that walkiness will ensue. Ha.

What have you been reading lately, that you can recommend? By the way if you’ve read anything I recommend and liked it, please let me know. I can sometimes be a bit over zealous about books, I know. But I do love it when we love the same ones.

P.S. The book links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking my link I will earn a small commission which helps to pay for the blog.


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50 thoughts on “Snow, Reading, Closet Sorting, More Reading.”

  1. Sorry the weather’s been cruel to you lately — better here on the West Coast, but it’s been teasing us with brief glimpses of spring and then reverting to grey, cloudy days with highs not yet above 15C (I know! you’d love a day that warm! But I know you’re sympathetic as far as that prolonged transition wherein one cannot quite put away the woolies and spring’s lighter textiles are screaming from the closet to be worn. . . )

    You know most of what I’ve been reading from my IG and my blog (and thanks again to you and Dottoressa for the S.J. Bennett books). Recently, I’ve also enjoyed Anne Enright’s The Wren, The Wren as well as Julian Barnes’ Elizabeth Finch — not sure they’d get you through a snowstorm though. I think the mysteries are better for that. The Maeve Kerrigan series sounds perfect, and I’ve put the first one on hold at the library. Thank you! I’ll be reading The Burning as soon as I can get an e-copy — just the kind of reading for some plane and train time I have lined up.

    1. Oh, and meant to say that I’ve recently remembered Christopher Brookmyre’s books again — which I liked so much when I learned about them from you a few years ago and devoured. Will have to catch up!

  2. I am ready to start complaining about hot weather…I’m over snow, rain and wind. I am sure your sister appreciated the help with a closet sort. You have a wonderful eye and it’s so much easier when someone helps you who can give objective feedback about clothing you maybe emotionally attached to!

  3. I can recommend “The sunset years of Agnes Sharp” by Leonie Swan. There is a second book coming out in September. It is along the lines of The Thursday Murder Club books. I thoroughly enjoyed the Detective Matthew Venn series by Ann Cleeves that you had mentioned. Sorry for all the bad weather you experiencing. It is trying hard to be Spring over here on the west coast.

  4. It seems the weather is being recalcitrant everywhere. In the southern hemisphere, after a disappointing summer and too few nice autumn days we have veered into winter and I’m digging out my woolies.
    I’ve also recently discovered T A Williams Dan Armstrong books, also enjoyed his Chasing Shadows, set in Spain in two different time zones.
    Will investigate the other writers you mention. A friend and I on our morning walk today were discussing how at present there are so many terrible things happening in the world that we are tending towards escapism in books and film.

  5. Can you please come here and do an edit of my closet?! I keep meaning to but can’t quite get my mind around it. I can imagine you’d do it brilliantly.
    And I’m sorry to say that I haven’t any book recommendations…I’m slowly getting back into reading but it’s taking a big backseat to other creative endeavours!
    Enjoying your posts, as always. Xx

  6. Being snowed-up is something I don’t like at all. Temperatures here are going up to 27°C these days-very unusual and,lovely as it could be-not healthy at all. Thank you for all the recommendations-I was looking for Chris Brookmyre’s Jasmine Sharp series new book,too
    A big thank you to Wendy for Tim Sullivan’s books,highly recommend and second your opinion-I loved The Dentist and DS Cross,bought The Cyclist,looking forward to the whole series
    I’m reading Sophie Hannah’s The Monogram Murders at the moment,first of her series featuring Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot,approved by Agatha Christie Estate-love it so far

  7. I’m so glad you are enjoying Tim Sullivan’s books ( you too Dotteressa ) It’s not like I’m the author but I feel quite protective towards George Cross , with all his foibles he’s such an appealing character . We have friends with an adult son who is very similar to George , brutally honest at all times but very lovable . He has some amazing skills . He & his father travel round the country visiting cathedrals so that he can build perfect to scale models of them , from memory only , even to miniature stained glass windows . He’s always pleased when Max recognizes the cathedral , but he tries not to show it . In my enthusiasm, I downloaded all the books at once & then got muddled & was part way through the final one , wondering who the new characters were , before I realised I’d skipped a couple . I carried on & it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the series . I enjoyed that Jane Casey too & it was interesting to read Rob’s side of the story . I see there’s another Maeve & Josh one available now . You have to wonder where the relationship is going & I agree , he’s definitely got his faults but she manages to make him very appealing . Right now I’m reading Anna O by Matthew Blake , which has rave reviews . It’s quite slow to get going but I’m not far in yet so I must be patient . It’s tricky when you’ve finished a good series . Thanks for your trustworthy recommendations . So many book recommendations I find are for books I ‘ought’ to read rather than those I ‘want’ to read . Is it just me ?

    1. Following Susan’s mention of Tim Sullivan recently, I’ve just read my first George Cross book and just loved the book and George. Thank you both for bringing them to my attention.
      Susan from Leeds

      1. You’re welcome Susan . I forgot to mention , if you sign up to Tim Sullivan’s website there are regular short stories available. Not the same as a full book , just a little extra dose of George Cross .

    2. I saw the new Maeve and Josh book by Jane Casey. I’m waiting for a bit to read it. I am with you on the “should read” versus “want to read.” An old friend who has passed away now once told me that I paid too much attention to the shoulds in my life. So I’m trying to follow her advice. 🙂

      1. As always, so much fun to read on Sunday mornings. Loved all the reading suggestions from you and your followers. I started a list right away.
        I have enjoyed a few books recently. Our book club really liked The Good Women of Safe Harbour by Bobbi French. Also, Looking for Jane by Heather Marshall.
        As for a series, ever since I watched The Flying Doctor way back when, the Australian Outback has intrigued me. The Aaron Falk series by Jane Harper and The Lost Man by her were filled with Australian Outback descriptions and also with its sense of danger.
        Enjoy light jacket weather!

  8. Carol Larochelle

    I’m fairly new to your blog, but enjoy it very much, mostly the fashion part.
    I’m in the U.S., Massachusetts.
    While this winter we have had very little snow here in the suburbs of Boston. West in the state, they always get more. Don’t get me wrong, some years we get pummeled, but nothing like you.
    Being in New England we have close access to the mountains, the ocean which is great, but we always look forward to SUMMER!
    Being retired, quite frankly, I wish I could spend my winters in Florida, and be a snowbird and come back here in the spring.
    I am a widow now and finances prevent me from traveling a lot but I am going to Florida next week on vacation with my family to enjoy some warmth.
    I am wondering if you wish to escape your harsh winters?
    I feel our lives are restricted by the weather, although I along to a gym so I can still exercise, it’s not the same as being outside.
    Just my thoughts when I read about your harsh winters. I thought ours were bad!! Haha!
    Thanks for listening!

    1. I frequently wish to escape winter.. but then the feeling passes when it snows and Hubby lights the fire. Maybe next year…we’ll fly away somewhere warm for a few weeks. Maybe.

  9. I have really enjoyed reading and listening to Dervla McTiernan’s books set in Ireland. Full of interesting characters and wonderful background.

    1. Kathleen,I love her books,too,especially those set in Ireland! Her new one, What Happened to Nina,set in US is excellent as well,interesting and opening a lot of questions…I’ve forgotten to mention it
      But,I miss Ireland

  10. have you tried the Susan HIll mysteries? I have read the entire series and love them. Also, Peter Lovesey Peter Diamond series. sometimes I reread them. Also love Ann Cleeves. We moved to Florida to escape the cold winters of Massachusetts! The heat is sometimes unbearable, but no snow in sight!

    1. Yes, I have always enjoyed Susan Hill’s work. I haven’t read her in a while, though. Not sure why. Ditto Peter Lovesey amd Ann Cleeves. Although in the past few years I’ve listened to Lovesey’s Peter Diamond series more than reading them. The narrator is so good.

  11. I’m currently reading the newest Tana French book, The Hunter, and I am liking it a lot. It is a sequel to The Searcher, not part of the Dublin Murder Squad series.

    Like Kathleen, I recommend Dervla McTiernan’s books too.

    I’m also loving The Comfort of Crows, by Margaret Renkl. It’s a collection of short non-fiction pieces about the creatures and plants in the author’s backyard over the course of a year. Beautifully written, and the hardcover book has lovely illustrations and silky-feeling paper. It’s a treat all around. I dip in and out of it, savoring a few pages at a time.

    1. I liked Tana French’s The Hunter, but not as much as The Searcher, and not as much as the Dublin Murder Squad series all of which I thought were brilliant.

  12. I’m sorry the weather was so miserable during your stay in Fredericton. I guess the silver lining for Carolyn was you both had time to sort her closet. A big effort made easier with another set of hands and eyes. And, you have great fashion sense so she may have some new outfits put together.

    Your weather is about to change, is it not? My daughter lives in Ottawa so I follow your weather loosely. Spring is such a time of hope. Time to switch out your wardrobe, get out in the garden, go for long walks, eat outside in the sunshine, and fire up that bbq. It’s coming soon!

    1. Yep. The weather has indeed changed. Our weekend was glorious and the sunshine continues today. Feels like being reborn to have my morning tea on the deck again.

  13. My reading has been like the weather – unpredictable and I am not really loving much. Maybe I should try more mysteries? A friend recommends the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear but I haven’t tried them yet. I did enjoy Anna Quindlen’s latest, After Annie. It is sad, but fit my mood. For this month’s book club, I am reading Milkman by Anna Burns, but I am having a hard time getting into it.

  14. Your weather is more extreme than mine, in Colorado! We do have our extremes too though. Yesterday we had high winds, and the power company shut off power to 55,000 customers to preemptively prevent fires from downed power lines. We prepared with ice, and lanterns, but had power all night. Yay!

    During the cold and windy months, I enjoy our amazing local Recreation Center. The building also houses our Senior Center. It’s a busy and very social spot! I take exercise classes, with weights and fun music. I also do yoga classes sometimes. My husband does his own exercise, but most of all enjoys the lively conversations in the sauna! He always comes home with interesting news to share. I feel lucky to live in a small city of just over 20,000, that has a great library (where I worked for 25 years) as well as our Recreation/Senior Center. Tax dollars well spent!

    I just finished a very clever novel. “Mrs. Plansky’s Revenge” by Spencer Quinn. A retired widow, in her 70’s is taken in by a phone scam. Her accounts are all drained. Mrs. Plansky will just not stand for it!

  15. Thank you for the book recommendations! Have been looking for something to read/listen to.
    I’m a newer fan of your blog—love your writing.

  16. Thank you. I just loaded up my Goodreads “want to read” list. I never read a mystery in my life until the Louise Penny Detective Armand series which I devoured over a space of a few months and am looking forward to trying some of these recommendations.
    Spring weather here is typical for BC, one day we’re in cropped pants and light layers with sandals, the next we’re back to jeans, puffer jackets and boots, but the daffodils are out and the trees are unfurling their leaves, so there is hope.

  17. The “mild” seasons can be frustrating. We had 2 days of non-stop, fierce, autumn rain recently. So bad that some areas flooded (not where I live, Sydney is very spread out), people were evacuated, and others were cut off by flooded roads. No fun at all. But after this misery, the weekend was sunny and the flood waters are receding.

    Yesterday, I enjoyed a National Theatre Live screening of the play The Motive and the Cue, directed by Sam Mendes with Johnny Flynn as Richard Burton, Mark Gatiss as John Gielgud and Tuppence Middleton as Elizabeth Taylor. An engrossing and entertaining story set in 1964 when Gielgud directed Burton in a Broadway production of Hamlet. It gave insights on the evolution of theatrical styles, the shenanigans of rehearsal rooms, and the impact of celebrity on art. The acting was extraordinary. Screenings like this allow me to pretend I’m at the theatre in London without the inconvenience of getting on a plane.

    I’m currently reading and enjoying The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. Set in the USA, it’s about race and what happens when people choose to live in ways that are different from their origins.

  18. I will read anything by Tana French! Maybe twice. I just finished her latest. It’s a shame that I read faster than she writes. She’s quite a talent.

  19. I just finished reading “The Women” by Kristin Hannah. I could not put it down! But it was also very painful to read. Because I was in my late teens, early twenties during the Vietnam era and knew many who served in ‘Nam, the book was very real for me. At times too real…

    1. I have heard of the book. But I’ve gone off books that are “too real” for the time being. I was also a teenager during Vietnam although, being Canadian, the effects of the war were experienced by me mostly through movies.

  20. It’s fifteen degrees in Ottawa today not a patch of snow to be seen, nary a cloud in the sky and husband heading out to Costco in shirt sleeves. Though the oldsters across the road are off in their Eddie Bauer vests. Just shows you the vagaries of weather in a couple days…unfortunately rumours of more snow but I think just a few flurries.
    No walkies for me for six weeks as I won the knee surgery lottery and crutching it for awhile. I don’t do mysteries except the oldie TV shows on PBS like Midsomer and Murder in Paradise…I gifted myself Apple+ for a couple months until I am on the mend and loving The New Look about Christian Dior. It’s about the man’s struggle during WW2 not the fashion though that has its moment in the last episode. Even with having his beloved sister sent to the camps ( she was a resistance fighter) he comes across as a gentle, loving and artistic soul…Coco Chanel does not fare as well. Juliet Binoche is amazing as Chanel, everyone will draw something different from her portrayal of the character…but not always positive.

  21. Discovered mystery writer Stephanie Austin a couple of years ago. I adore her detective Juno Browne. I’d read the series in order. Good plots and lots of interesting characters. The books are all set in Dartmoor, which is absolutely fascinating.

  22. On holiday in the Outer Hebrides, where I finished Peter May’s Lewis trilogy followed by, at your recommendation, Sue, my first Tim Sullivan, The Teacher. Excellent. Just as you said! Thank you.

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