Books · Witterings

April Roundup

Here we are again another month done! And what a month. A plethora of bank holidays and a plethora of books both bought and read.

I started the month with a sickness bug, and all I could manage to read was some Enid Blyton which I am sure aided my recovery like it did when I was younger. I went back and visited First Term at Malory Towers again, and I remember these books with such fondness, and I have a real liking for school stories! I followed this up with Jill Murphy’s – The Worst Witch. Long before the days of the little boy wizard we have grown to either love or loathe there was Mildred Hubble! I have not reviewed this yet, as I have decided to review all four books I got in the set together, but have counted it here for the purposes of books read in April.

I tried to continue that theme during the month and read Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons set in an all girls school. I will at some point reread the rest of Malory Towers and then venture over to St Clare’s. As for Agatha Christie, I can always venture over there at any point and I discovered Parker Pyne Investigates. No Poriot and Miss Marple how will I cope? Fantastically well, and the short stories were a perfect tonic and were just right, I could go back and read the book again and again quite happily.

Talking of short stories, I am going to venture that The Travelling Matchmaker fits into this category very nicely. They are short books, less than 180 pages and have taken me roughly a day to read. I started in Exeter with Emily (Emily goes to Exeter), moved with Belinda to Bath (Belinda goes to Bath)and am waiting to pick up the adventure with Penelope in Portsmouth, my home city. There are three more places to visit, Brighton, Dover and York with Beatrice, Deborah and Yvonne.

Another foray into short stories this month with Penelope Fitzgerald – The Bookshop. Because of seeing so much on blogs about this, I wanted to share in the experience and that I did. A very thought provoking book. Review to follow shortly. Another blog recommendation and spotted on a few blogs (Book blogging does wonders for my book shelves but not my bank balance) was Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader.  Just a fabulous book and the thought of perhaps the Queen sneaking a book as she travelled to Westminster Abbey on Friday last just to pass the time made me smile!

If you have been following this blog for a while you may well have picked up on another theme I always seem to come back to – stories set in big houses with a history or at least a family history. Here this month I discovered Katherine Webb – The Legacy, which fits into the ‘big house’ category for me. I also stumbled across Linda Gillard – House of Silence on Amazon, only available as an e-book (more about that later) and again, this is about a family history which unravels at Christmas when they are all gathered at the family home.  A big thank you here to Linda, who replied to my correspondence and has sent me two of her earlier books as I recognised the strength of craft when it comes to mental health.

History was prevalent in Louisa Young – My Dear I Wanted To Tell You, which I read thanks to Amazon Vine, and has been pitched as one of those books you must read in 2011 and probably it is a book you must read if only to experience another side of how the First World War effected so many people. In some ways the Travelling Matchmaker books are history as they are set in the 1800s but for more historical based fiction with an element of truth then I picked up the second book in a burgeoning series Rhys Bowen – A Royal Pain. Set in the 1930s.

Real life books were also read this month. By that definition I mean books where the main characters are real and exist now. Tessa Hainsworth – Seagulls in the Attic is the follow up to the brilliant Up with the Larks where she continues to fictionalise her life as a Cornish Postie after having been something “big” in London and wanting to take stock of her life and probably what is called downsize. Another author who has had a change of direction is Scott Barfield – Zen and the Diary of a B&B Owner. This rather short book was a collection of anecdotes of the guests and visitors to his B&B in Brighton. It was fun and enlightening and all the more interesting because I have a little knowledge of the area of Brighton as it is just an hour away from me.

It was rather a chick lit free month in some ways, the only book that fitted into that category was Deborah Wrights – Swimming with Dolphins and I still feel guilty about being slightly scathing about the book when I saw on Amazon that other reviewers loved it enough for 5 stars. I have to keep reminding myself that it is a good job that we do not all like the same books! Life would be boring! I did go for another book by the end of the month in what I have dubbed “young” chick lit, mainly because I think the book 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson, is rather aimed at the teenage audience and a transition book perhaps into more adult books. The review for that will follow this post in coming days.

This month has been quite a strong month for using my Kindle. I have read 5 books on it, they are marked by a K at my 2011 Books. Not through choice but more through accident and discovery and for those I paid for, because they were cheap and I was trying to be thrifty (ignoring my mass book buying for this month). I am sure I am reading quicker on my Kindle, but it could be that I am just reading shorter books on there! I have discovered some fabulous authors which has led me on to looking for more books.

As the month of April ends I am currently reading Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and White and throughly enjoying it. I will have to wait until the TV series is repeated now. Plenty of books to choose from in May though I am not sure I will be able to read so many – 16 in April.

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3 thoughts on “April Roundup

  1. Are you interested in autobiographical “big house” books? I enjoyed Liza Campbell’s TITLE DEEDS, about a family growing up in Cawdor Castle. It’s rather sad but fascinating. http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385658001/qid=1149761110/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2_1_1/202-4902915-7586258

    THE GUYND: A SCOTTISH JOURNAL by Belinda Rathbone is another memoir about Scottish country house living.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guynd-Scottish-Journal-Belinda-Rathbone/dp/1593720157/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304269302&sr=1-1

    I love books like this (which is why I wrote one!)

    I too find I’m reading faster on my Kindle.

  2. A great number of books read and they all seem to flow smoothly into one another in your roundup post. Well done 🙂 I wasn’t too taken with the Travelling Matchmaker series but I look forward to your reviews. I have also been reading more on my Sony Reader and it is such a boon to get hold of books quickly and cheaply. I also use the Amazon sample facility like you – a wonderful way to exponentially increase your TBR list!
    Whereabouts are you, Jo, if Brighton is an hour away? I used to like popping into Brighton on occassion when I lived in St Leonards. I love the Sussex coast.

  3. That looks like a wonderful month of reading. The Legacy is one of many (too many) books I have underway and it looks very promising. And I picked up Parker Pyne on your recommendation and was enchanted too – thank you!

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