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.

Longbourn – Jo Baker – Blog Tour

Longbourn HB

The Book: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice below stairs – the story of romance, intrigue, and drama among the servants of the Bennet household.

“If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah thought, she would be more careful not to trudge through muddy fields.”

It is wash-day for the housemaids at Longbourn House, and Sarah’s hands are chapped and bleeding. Domestic life below stairs, ruled tenderly and forcefully by Mrs Hill the housekeeper, is about to be disturbed by the arrival of a new footman smelling of the sea, and bearing secrets.

For in Georgian England, there is a world the young ladies in the drawing room will never know, a world of poverty, love, and brutal war.

In Longbourn, Jo Baker gives respectful voice to those characters whom we have previously met only in passing on the stairs or through commentary and dialogue from Austen’s much loved Bennet family.

Jo Baker

Jo Baker (C) Ed Marshall Camera Press

The Author:  Jo Baker was born and grew up in Lancaster, and educated at Oxford and Belfast. Formerly a bookseller, she lives in Lancaster with her husband and two children, aged ten and five. Her own family were in service, a fact which lead Jo to considering the original idea for this novel. Longbourn is to be published internationally and is due to be made into a film produced by Focus Features.

This Blog: I have sneaked a look at the first few pages of the book and I am intrigued as I always have been by the life that goes on behind the scenes, downstairs if you will in big houses, and this book is certainly piquing my interest. Come back on Tuesday 13 August and find out what you did not know about life below in stairs in Jane Austen’s day.

Six Books, Six Months – 2013 Version

Last year I started this little meme more on a whim than anything else, and thought why not give it another outing and so here it is for 2013.

Here are the 6 categories I chose originally. Feel free to use them;

  • 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

My new one for this year

  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year

Or perhaps chose some of these below, which many readers and bloggers used last year to join in with this meme.

  • 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 that didn’t live up to expectations
  • Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried:

Join in and spread the word. It is always great to have new readers to my blog and to discover more blogs out there too!

And my 6 in 6 are as follows:

  • Six new authors to me

1. Jill Mansell

2. Lisa O’Donnell

3. Morgan McCarthy

4. Maggie Joel

5. Elizabeth Gill

6. Maeve Binchy

  • Six authors I have read before

1. Trisha Ashley

2. Niamh O’Connor

3. Katie Fforde

4. Judith Kinghorn

5. Philippa Gregory

6. Linda Gillard

  • Six books I have enjoyed the most

1. The White Queen – Philippa Gregory

2. Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games

3. The Death of Bees – Lisa O’Donnell

4. Home Front Girls – Rosie Goodwin

5. Life after Life – Kate Atkinson

6. One Pair of Hands – Monica Dickens

  • Six books I was disappointed with

1. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees

2. Adrienne McDonnell – The Doctor & the Diva

3. Alex Grecian – The Yard

4. Eleanor Prescott – Could It Be I’m Falling In Love

5. Brigid Keenan – Diplomatic Baggage

6. Paul O’Grady – Still Standing: The Savage Years

  • Six books from authors I know will never let me down

1. Good Husband Material – Trisha Ashley

2. A Sea Change – Veronica Henry

3. The Glass Guardian – Linda Gillard

4. Agatha Christie – A Caribbean Mystery

5. Katie Forde – Love Letters

6. Life after Life – Kate Atkinson

  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year

1. Emylia Hall

2. Simon Kernick

3. P.G. Wodehouse

4. Maria Cobbold

5. Nicky Pellegrino

6. Alexander McCall Smith

Parish Notices

Time is running away with me somewhere, I have lots of things to blog about and books to review and just general stuff to share,  but by the time I get home in the evening, I have lost momentum to open the laptop and to start typing. Especially when I have been staring at spreadsheet and the like all day. But I have found so momentum, so there is no stopping me at the moment..


I held a giveaway at the end of last month for M.L.Stedman’s – The Light Between the Oceans. I had not forgotten and I am pleased to announce the winner is Pat (sorry no knitted mermaid this time)

  1. Pat
  2. lindylit
  3. jessicabookworm
  4. davey

Timestamp: 2013-06-29 10:10:00 UTC (Courtsey of

Pat I have emailed you, but please contact me if you see this!


It is Wimbledon time and I think we are going to have an interesting second week, as a number of well-known and well seeded players tumble out of SW19. Do pop over and read Elaine’s musings on the matter.

I must just mention WHSmiths – over the last couple of weeks, I have had cause to pop into one and see if they had a book, (Waterstones did not) and I promptly came out again, disorientated by the lack of organisation and the fact that all the books seem to have been shoved on shelves with no rhyme or reason. I felt so dizzy I came out, shaking my head and wondering why? Is it just the two local ‘Smiffs’ near me like that or do you have a similar experience. Oddly enough when I go in charity shops and look at books I do not get the same feeling and their books are generally not in any order either?


Expect some posts on knitting and baking soon as well as my day out at newbooks magazine Reader’s Day. And if you were here around a year ago you will remember the 6 in 6 meme I started. Well I am going to bring it back this year so I do hope you join in.

Another A to Z….

A is for Antiques Roadshow. It is coming to The Royal Marines Museum in a couple of weeks and I am off with some mugs/cups that my late Nan had, which I chose to keep. I don’t think they are worth much, but I can always live in hope. Plus might see Fiona Bruce too. Though I won’t tell Elaine at Random Jottings, who is not overly keen on her tv presence!

B is for Bank Holidays – we have two in May. I do love a four-day week!

C is for Canasta. One particular friend has got the rest of us into playing this rather long but thoroughly enjoyable card game – it has become addictive. And nights and afternoon’s out are based around us playing a few hands. 

is for Diet.  The last time I did one of these posts, D was for diet then – it still is. So perhaps the next letter down should be glossed over?

E is for eating out. I have been once to The Fish Factory at Littlehampton with friends, last year. Recently I went with my parents, and it was just as good. They liked it to and the choice of fish is wonderful, the chips delicious, the cheesecake for pudding divine and the portions ENORMOUS!

F is for future things to look forward to. London trip to include Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Masons. Another Spa break, weekend away with the girls on the Isle of Wight. Readers Day at Winchester. Portsmouth Bookfest.

G is for Rosie Goodwin. I have never read any of her books before and was sent her latest Home Front Girls to read. I loved it, and it reminded me very much of the novels and sagas of  Maureen Lee.

H is for habits. It takes three weeks to break one apparently. I need to break the going down the biscuit aisle and buying biscuits and eating them all habit. It might help with the diet Jo! It worked this week – only 2 weeks to go then.

I is for Inferno – Dan Brown’s Inferno to be precise. It seems to have rather a mixed bag of reviews, page turning but not going to set fire to the literary world! As I still have The Lost Symbol to read, I think I might refrain from buying this one!

J is for Maggie Joel I have been sent The Second-Last Woman in England to read and review and she will be featuring on my blog towards the end of June.

K is for knitting. I have done a few characters lately, and have pictures on my iPad which I have now put into a post. Look out for them coming soon.

L is for Lego. I am a huge fan and if I had the room, it would all be out and built as it was when I was a kid. Then we had the space and I had a whole town set out, complete with train track that went round the perimeter. But in the interim I do have a wonderful shop that I was bought a couple of years ago for Christmas. When I opened this huge box, the sheer pleasure on my face apparently upset my dad, he could see the child in me still! It is still made, it took  me a couple of days and despite the dust I love looking at it. I am coveting one of the new exclusives ‘Palace Cinema’ but in the interim, I spotted this book Brick City – a Lego lovers dream – I bought it because it was half price in WHSmiths but if I had the money, the space and the Lego bricks…..

To celebrate the Royal nuptials of Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton, four Adult Fans of LEGO built a giant scale replica model of a wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey

M is for Money back from the gas man. I overpaid the last 6 months and did not use as much gas. It has been cold, for a lot longer than normal. But I love cosying up on the sofa or under the duvet with an extra blanket or two – and knitting invariably keeps you warm and saves money it turns out too.

N is for Nexus the new computer system at work. Don’t you just love a new computer system with a wire that goes into the wall but is nowhere near the computer and trails right across the office and is fixed down with black masking tape! To resolve it I was allowed to buy a longer cable – I went for pink. So what – I work in an office full of men.

is for Offer.  Work this one out if you will – 1 x  500g tub of Cottage Cheese is £1.90. 1 x 250g tub of Cottage Cheese is £1.45. That in itself is rather a rip off – then add in the buy 2 of the 250g tubs for £2.50 So that is £2.50 for 500g or £1.90 for 500g. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.

P is for Pointless. The tea time programme on BBC1 is entertaining and informative. Both Richard Osman and Alexander Armstrong make me laugh – and people really do not know stuff!

Q is for Quentin. Caroline Quentin and her National Parks TV programme. She has been in Scotland, Wales and in her final programme into the New Forest. Her delivery and enthusiasm for all she does is rather good and the humour underlying is subtle as well. I have only caught the odd one or two of her Cornwall shows but I hope she does more discovering Britain programmes soon. It is what makes our country so unique.

R is for Running. I have been sneaking in a few little and short runs. But I really think running is not for me. Shin splints, despite proper footwear leave me aching too much. I am not getting the adrenalin kick that I do from this as I do from  swimming, Body Pump, Zumba and even walking. I am a walker not a runner.

S is for Sunday Roasts. Whether it be Chicken, Beef, Pork or Gammon. (I don’t like lamb) you can’t beat a roast with all the trimmings, surprisingly even though I rarely cook one. I decamp to my parents every Sunday where one is probably 99% guaranteed. And amazingly all cooked the slimming way too – and you could not tell. Well perhaps the lack of crispy potatoes but apart from that.

T is for Transworld. One of the lovely publishing houses that send me books galore and the chance to read books I would have avoided in a bookshop.

U is for Uniform. New company (currently same job!) but now I have to wear a fetching black and white spotty scarf! Along with the white shirt and black skirt that I have been wearing for aeons!

V is for Vesta Churchill. A character in Brighton Belle by Sara Sheridan (review coming soon). A young black female in Fifties Britain. An interesting idea which the author I am sure will develop as the series goes along.

W is for Winter it is still with us.

X is for X back swimming costumes – the stringy variety – I hate you! Give me a proper back if you will and something that does not get tangled up and tries to garrote me half way through a swim. I have now disposed of all said garments. Mind you what can you do with swimming costumes when the lyrca has gone on them other than throw them in the bin?

Y is for Yes there are some things repeated on this list, compared to my last one back in March! Not intentional, but I have just gone back and looked – funny how certain stuff stays in your conscience.

Z is for Zips. If you watched the Great British Sewing Bee then you will know putting in a zip is a difficult yet clever thing. When you spot a knitting pattern that has one in, I tink it is best to avoid it!

Thanks for persevering to the end. It felt like lately that I had not really been here on the blog, despite the book reviews and so I wanted to rectify that. I am here and in the coming days, weeks, months; there will be some knitting posts, there will be some book reviews and I also have a couple of books to giveaway – so there will be that too. Do pop by whenever you can, I really do appreciate it.