July Roundup

This month has seemed long, busy and tiring. It was on all three accounts which is probably why things have been a bit slow round here lately. The reading has been slow and the reviews forthcoming have been even slower. It was great to see everyone’s 6 in 6 and I will check back over all those who participated and gather even more categories for next year. Hope to see you then.

Now I have a bit more time, it should all perhaps be a bit more flowing on here.

If you wanted to actual visualise the books I have read in July in terms of their size then I have had some right chunksters and some little tiddlers! The majority were page turners.

Lucinda Riley – The Italian Girl* was the first chunkster of the month. Kindly sent to me by the lovely Lucinda and is actually a book she first published under the name Lucinda Edmonds but has been rewritten and worked on and what has been set forth onto my reading table along with many others is a wonderful musical novel in many ways. What stands out for me about this book is the fact that it is absolutely about the characters, outside events (be here I mean, wars, politics, etc) have not infiltrated in the book to give it a sense of place and time and in some cases atmosphere. I am looking forward to see if there are any other reissues and re-workings of her back catalogue.

When you have been absorbed so much in a book you kind of want a little light read, something diverting but not disturbing. Here is where Agatha Christie – The Murder at the Vicarage steps in. I am slowly just working my way through reading her novels. I picked this because I had recently re-watched the TV version.

Now diverting and disturbing is certainly a good combination and this is where Erin Kelly – The Poison Tree* stepped into the breach. I have seen her speak a couple of years ago at the Guildford Book Festival Readers Day, I follow her on twitter and I had heard many good things about this book from other bloggers. However I had not actually got round to reading it and I avoided watching the TV version from last year, as I wanted to read the book first. Eventually it has taken until July to read the book. And all I can say is, why did I not read it before? So many books, so little time is obviously the reason but I think disturbing and diverting are two adjectives which describe how well the book is written and how good it is. I hope my review will do it justice.

I am lucky enough to receive books from publishers and where I can, I do try and read as many of them as that takes my fancy. However I received Monica McInerney – Hello from the Gillespies* from a different source, through the Good Housekeeping Magazine. Who would send me the book and then two weeks later send me a questionnaire about the book. No problem, two weeks would be ok and I knew you got another two if you had not finished the book in the first two. I had read Monica’s work before so was certainly not phased by her work. And so the book arrived all 500+ pages of it. And I could not put it down. I want to talk about this book, but it is not published in the UK until November, so I will contact the publisher and find out when I can post a review. Although it is readily available in Australia I think? Watch this space.

Being reassured by authors you know I thought I would catch up with Jack Sheffield – School’s Out* this set of ‘school’ stories are very much in the Gervase Phinn vein, being set in Yorkshire, but they come from the head teachers point of view. I was not that keen on this book, I felt the whole series is perhaps being diluted and I cannot see where it can possibly go? There is still one book to read but I think I might take a trip to the library for that one.

You know when you find a book and you finish it and then you want to know what happens next? I was in that position with Vanessa Greene – The Vintage Teacup Club*. A book again I have had on my shelf for a while and had kept moving around to the ‘to-read’ pile and back again. I finally decided that it was time it was read, I wanted something that was going to ease my soul and this book was just my cup of tea! Which is good because I needed another top up and was pleased to discover a short story Vanessa Greene – Tuesdays at the Teacup Club* which allowed me to carry on share their lives of the three very different women in the début novel.

All in all not a bad book month really. I was pleased with all that I read and rediscovered authors I had not read for a while and some new ones too. As July came to a close I was indulging in some Angela Thirkell for the first time. Pure bliss.

Six in Six – 2014 Version

It has taken me long enough, but I am here with my Six in Six. Thank you to everyone that has participated so far, I hope I have managed to get across to see your blog and comment. At the end of July/beginning of August I hope to round up all those that have participated and of course add all those new categories for future years too!

So without further ado….

  • Six books that are related to The Great War or Second World War

Martin Davis – The Year After

Elizabeth Speller – The Return of Captain John Emmett

Mary Fitzgerald – When I Was Young

Anna Hope – Wake

Natasha Solomons – The Novel in the Viola

Monica Dickens – One Pair of Feet

  •  Six authors I have read before

M.C. Beaton

Lucinda Riley

Maureen Lee

Trisha Ashley

Belinda Bauer

Fern Britton

  • Six new authors to me

Jill Dawson

Pierre Lemaitre

Diane Chamberlain

Phil Hogan

Graeme Simsion

Elizabeth Speller

  • Six books from the past that drew me back there

Sara Sheridan – London Calling

James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night

Rosie Goodwin – A Mother’s Shame

P.L. Travers – Mary Poppins Comes Back

Jill Dawson – Lucky Bunny

Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

  • Six crime related books

Alex – Pierre Lemaitre

The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith

Dying in the Wool – Frances Brody

The Facts of Life and Death – Belinda Bauer

London Calling – Sara Sheridan

Henrietta Who? – Catherine Aird

  • Six new books I have bought/acquired but not read

Alison Weir – The Marriage Game

Helen Walsh – The Lemon Grove

Linda Gillard – Cauldstane

Philippa Gregory – The White Princess

Carole Matthews – A Place to Call Home

Angela Thirkell – Pomfret Towers

June Roundup

I am a bit late with my June Roundup post, normally I have written it just before the month turns into the next one and it is scheduled ready to go but June has been a busy month at the weekends (which is generally when I write posts) so this is why some of you who have been waiting with baited breath have had to wait until this weekend!

A female author dominated month by accident than design or choice.

Short stories are a great way to keep reading when your concentration is not up too much but you still want to read something worthwhile. Fern Britton – The Stolen Weekend reintroduced us to characters who first appeared in Hidden Treasures and also feature in her new novel A Seaside Affair (which I have just picked up for a bargain on Kindle!). I am really looking forward to spending my summer with Fern and these characters.

Short stories but not in kindle form come with a  crime novel and rather an intriguing one too. Catherine Aird – Henrietta Who? Is a book recommended by my mum who remembers reading it a long time ago. You think you know who you are and then a tragic accident means you are grieving for those you have lost but also your lost life as well. This was the only touch of crime that has featured in June.

Although some may say war is a crime of sorts. I picked up Elizabeth Speller – The Return of Captain John Emmett* because it has been on my shelf for a while and also I am going to see Elizabeth Speller talk next weekend. Only right that I should at least have read one of her books. This book has stayed with me and as of yet I have actually not got round to writing the review. It is about the First World War and the return of any soldiers and the effects that the war had on them and returning to a normal existence. However past events seem to take over the mind and perhaps there can never be a normal existence again. I am intrigued as to where she takes her main character in a subsequent novel.

History is always a great background for a book and The White Woman on The Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey* was a book which covered the history of Trinidad and was all very new to me. I knew very little about the country and through George and Sabine Harwood I learnt a lot more. This was the July choice for Book Club and as of this post I am the only one who has finished it. I look forward to seeing if anyone else gets to the end, as they were struggling with the language and dialogue of the characters.

Another kindle read was Undertaking Love – Kat French which I chose on a whim. I was a little disappointed with this book but it satisfied the need of reading something even if it was a bit forgettable. I was also left feeling a bit meh with Abby Clements – Amelia Grey’s Fireside Dream*. Clements is a relatively new author and she is I think still developing her style, I must read her Christmas novel at some point, though middle of July might not necessarily work.

A new author for me and a new concept/idea as well. Harriet Evans – A Place Like Us* is the first of four parts that I have got the opportunity to read and introduces me to Harriet Evans who I have never read before and the Winter family who have secrets and pasts that they all wish to keep hidden. The first part has left me wanting more…..

June was busy for the wonderful idea of #bookaday which was started the lovely people at Borough Press and I challenged myself to this – and actually managed it! I hope you enjoyed the round up posts I did on here if you are not a twitterer. Doubleday is doing it for July, but I think that might be a bit too much for me!

Of course I have mentioned 6 in 6 and will get it posted some time in July. Don’t wait for me if you have already got your post ready to go. All I ask is that you refer back to my blog and let me know as well, so I can come and visit and wave! I am just contemplating mine……

So June was a fun packed month, with hen weekends, literary events and work! I am hoping July will bring a rest but I fear not…..


#bookaday 15th-21st June

I am still maintaining my #bookaday tweets (although I have to confess that they are scheduled in some cases, and so is this post – I am on a hen weekend!)  and I am really enjoying reading everyone elses and also struggling to come up with some answers. For those not on twitter here are the most recent days summed up.

15th – Favourite Fictional Father  I am really struggling with this one and wracking my brains – maybe Arthur Weasley ? I think I would have had some interesting things happen if he was my dad. 

16th – Can’t believe more people have read – Deanna Raybourn – Silent in the Grave. For some reason not so popular but wickedly good reads. Here is my review I have read the following two but then got stuck in getting hold of them. Might need to do a bit more digging around! I just love the cover of this one and the following two, then they were no longer published it seems in the UK and the covers now feature the classic picture of a woman staring out at you.

17th – Future Classic The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Mary Ann Shaffer. A wonderous read which I discovered long before it was famous and in truth I loved the cover. 

18th – Bought on a recommendation Blogging gives you lots of recommendations – in this case I choose Elizabeth Taylor- Mrs Palfrey at The Claremont. Thanks to Verity for this one and also to Helen who has also introduced me to Mary Stewart. 

19th – Still can’t stop talking about Kate Atkinson Life after Life.  A book despite reading over 12 months ago is simply still there in my mind, especially in them what if moments of life. 

20th – Favourite Cover I don’t think this book is as popular as it should be but I am going with Julia Stuart – Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo.

21st – Summer Read My dream holiday would be A Night on The Orient Express by Veronica Henry. Plus all her covers make me feel summery! I like Murder on The Orient Express too but that is not really a summer read, more a winter one! 

Shall we do it again?

I started this on a whim in 2012 and carried on into 2013 – it is 6 in 6.

The idea being that as the end of June approaches and we are then halfway through 2014,  let us share the books we have read in those first 6 months. In fact let’s share 6 books in 6 categories, or simply just 6 books. Whatever you want to and the same book can obviously feature in more than one category.

Here are some ideas for headings for your 6 book choices:

  • Six new authors to me;
  • Six authors I have read before;
  • Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of;
  • Six books I have enjoyed the most;
  • Six books I was disappointed with;
  • Six series of books read or started
  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year
  • Six books that took me on extraordinary journeys
  • Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past
  • Six books from the past that drew me back there
  • Six books from authors I know will never let me down
  • Six books I must mention that don’t fit nicely into any category
  • Six books I started in the first six months of the year and was still caught up with in July
  • Six trips to Europe:
  • Six blogging events I enjoyed:
  • Six bookish things I’m looking forward to:
  • Six Espionage or Historical Novels I enjoyed
  • Six Cool Classics
  • Six Non-US/Non-British Authors
  • Six From the Non-Fiction Shelf
  • Six books that didn’t live up to expectations
  • Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried.

My new one for this year:

  • Six books that are related to The Great War or Second World War

All you have to do is pick 6 categories that you want to use or come up with your own  (If you do: please comment and I can add them to this list for future years).  Then pick 6 books that fit into those 6 categories and post to your blog. Post any time in July, because I bet we all have books to finish in June that may well fit into a category!

I would be grateful for a link back to this blog if you can and of course please spread the word! I will be back in July with my 6 in 6.


From The Bookseller:

HarperCollins imprint The Borough Press is launching a social initiative for book lovers to share books they love on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #bookaday. It will begin on Sunday 1st June and run throughout the entire month.

There is a topic/question/subject for each day of June.

This is very much a Twitter thing – and you can see my Twitter Feed on the right hand side of the blog. But I am hoping next week to pop back (time dependent) at some point and perhaps let you know some of the answers to some of these.

If you are not a Twitterer then why not post to your blog?

Longbourn – Jo Baker – The Servants

Longbourn HB

10 things you might not know about life below stairs in Jane Austen’s day.

By Jo Baker

  1. Detergents weren’t developed until the latter half of the 19th Century. Households often made their own soap out of rendered animal fat and lye – so if someone wanted a clean shirt, you first had to kill a sheep.
  2. Lye, derived from potash, was also used as a laundry-bleach. It was so caustic that it would dissolve the fat-tissue of the laundress’s hands, turning it, effectively, into soap: it’s like using bleach without marigolds on – your hands feel slippy because your own fat’s dissolving. But not in a good way.
  3. Households also made their own laundry starch. This was a bit simpler – they used the water they’d boiled starchy foods in – dumplings, perhaps, or rice. Or potatoes, which were still something of a novelty. Dip your fichu in the cooking water, and hang it up to dry. Lovely.
  4. Some clothes needed to be unpicked before they were laundered – to prevent dyes bleeding, or delicate trimmings from spoiling – and then sewn back together again before wear.  To someone who shoves everything in the washing machine, switches on a thirty-degree non-fast coloureds cycle, and hopes for the best, this sounds like a terrible faff. Though if you wore those kinds of clothes back then, chances were you didn’t do the laundry, so the faffiness probably wasn’t that much of a concern.
  5. Sculleries, where the washing-up and laundry were done, were built with the ground a step lower than the adjoining rooms – with all that water sloshing around they needed to be, or the kitchen would get flooded.
  6. Larders were fitted with slate or stone shelves to keep food cool.
  7. Slate or stone shelves aren’t that good for keeping food cool…
  8. There are quite a few extant recipes for disguising spoiled food.
  9. As well as remedies for upset stomachs…
  10. Tea, though, was good for pretty much everything. It could be used – as either leaves or an infusion – to clean carpets and wooden floors, polish mirrors, windows, and furniture, treat eye infections, draw boils, dye hair and fabrics. Used leaves could be boiled up in fish-kettles and pans to remove the smell of fish; they were also, by more unscrupulous servants, dried, re-dyed and sold on to supplement meagre wages. Tea leaves could also be steeped in boiling water, to make a refreshing and consoling drink.

Next time I fling a few clothes in the washing machine, I think I might be grateful that Mr Persil, Mr Daz, Mr Ariel et al have made my life a lot easier.  At least while the machine is on I can sit back with a cup of refreshing and consoling tea….and read Longbourn. 

But perhaps I should read Pride and Prejudice which despite seeing the famous Colin Firth version on the television and numerous film adaptations I have never read. I am sure some of you are shocked by such a notion! 

Longbourn is published on 15 August in hardback and ebook. 

I am part of the Longbourn Blog Tour (get me! – even with my blog name on a poster – see top right of blog)

Yesterday the tour was at The To Read Pile.

Tomorrow (Wednesday 14 August) it stops at What Shall I Read?

Thursday 15 August it will be with Pamreader

Finally stopping on Friday 16 August at Northern Editoral

A rather eclectic mix of places to visit and find out more about the book and the author. Enjoy your tour and hope you come back and see my review at some point in the future.