Jottings

Slow Sunday

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It’s slow round here at the moment. Books are being read, book reviews are sort of happening, sewing and knitting is happening, baking is happening, fitness is happening. In fact life is happening.

However it seems this blog is not happening. There is in fact lots that I would like to blog about

  • I have finished a piece of cross stitch, a book related one too, that has been on the go for a while.
  • I have started and finished a knitted hedgehog.
  • I have started another piece of cross stitch…..
  • I am busy trying to finish a pair of socks…..
  • I have completed a jigsaw which had been hanging around for over 2 years and is now complete, so I started another one…..
  • I am now starting to think about Christmas Presents, and ones that I could possible make……
  • I have been away to somewhere new and would love to tell you all about it….
  • I have watched the latest adaptation of An Inspector Calls on the television and I want to share my thoughts about it and the play which I reread before it started…..
  • Of course Strictly is back and Downton Abbey and we will soon know who the winner of this years GBBO is. I have no idea who it is going to be?
  • Stanley is still delighting everyone and is now 17 weeks old, with teeth as sharp as razors and a personality to match!
  • I want to share some of my baking virtually of course……
  • I even realised that I saw some authors last year and I never got round to blogging about it at all.
  • I have no idea what is going on in the book world, as have just not had chance to see what is happening, normally twitter is good for this, but I seem to have quieted myself down on there.

For some reason, I have not been able to motivate myself and get all this stuff down out of my head and into some sort of coherent form.

For that reason I am sure some of my reviews have been slightly lacklustre, as it has taken me weeks before I even get round to putting my thoughts down on paper. I feel I am not giving my reviews the right impact that they should have, although not reviewing every book has been the right choice for this year.

So in all I am rather in a bit of a blog murk and I am not sure where anything is going to go.

 

 

Books

High Tide – Veronica Henry

Who cannot wish to swept away to Cornwall with the author Veronica Henry who weaves so much between the covers of her books that you actually feel that you are there living it all with the characters.

High Tide is no different and is the wonderful new novel from this author.

Kate is on a flying visit to Pennfleet where she grew up as a child, she is there to clear her parents house out, and attend her mother’s funeral. Life is very different in this quiet yet touristy part of Cornwall. nothing like the, stressful life she has been living in America. Is Kate being swept back to her home and the past?

Sam is starting again in a deli he listens to the locals and visitors as they unburden their troubles but with two teenagers and no hint of romance it seems that Sam has enough to be getting on with. However his teenage children have other ideas.

Nathan a local lad, happy with what he does, where he lives and the life he leads makes his money running picnics on his fishing boat as well as turning his hand to anything that comes along. This includes working for the local funeral director, but when some behaviour which could be frowned upon happens with a recent rich widow, it seems that Nathan has suddenly stopped being happy.

As always, the book is packed full of characters and additionally in this novel is the wonderful setting of Pennfleet which the author brings to life. I was drawn in to walk down the lane where Kate lived, to eat with Sam in his Deli and perhaps have the opportunity to meet the gorgeous Nathan in the local pub.

I cared for these characters, they are having to deal with death in many different ways, some recently and some long forgotten. However they are also dealing with life and the many changes it can bring and embracing them all can perhaps make for a better future.

The future I want is perhaps to return to Pennfleet and catch up with these characters and see how they are all getting on now they have made their choices? No pressure to Veronica Henry then!

High Tide is published on 24 September in paperback and kindle. 

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me to read this book. 

Yet again I find myself in Cornwall for another story, this was not through a pointed choice by myself, it is just how it seems to have worked out. I am thoroughly enjoying all the books from this part of the world and I almost feel like I am vicariously experiencing life down there.

The beauty of books to be able to take you on that journey and allow you that experience whilst you share someones else story. 

Books

Wedding Season – Katie Fforde

There is a certain amount of irony in having a Wedding Planner who is adamant on staying resolutely single. Sarah is that wedding planner and to her weddings and romance are her business but not her life.

Dealing with a particularly stressful wedding, sees her rely on two other women. Elsa, a quiet very much in the background of everything dress designer, who catches the eye of a best man at a wedding where she is forced to be a bridesmaid.

Bron on the other hand is outgoing and chatty, she has many skills apart from hairdressing including cake baking and make up. However the only skill she has not managed to achieve is to live happily ever after with her boyfriend.

When the chance to get involved in not just one but two weddings both scheduled on the same day and some miles apart it falls to Sarah, Elsa and Bron to a make two very different brides happy.

With great humour, with great love this is an excellent example of Katie Fforde’s work. With a good group of strong friends, you can overcome pretty much anything and in fact you might even find love along the way. And even if you don’t you will always have each other.

A story to lose yourself in and dream of your own big day – with perhaps not so many problems!

When I am feeling a bit lost about things, I have found that reading select authors certainly gives you a much needed positive boost. Katie Fforde is one of the authors I turn to. 

That is the beauty of a good book you can absolutely lose yourself. 

Books

The Flower Arrangement – Ella Griffin

Flowers mean different things to different people. They can be for romance, for weddings, for forgiveness, for birth, for death and everything in between. Each chosen flower has a story and whoever ends up with those flowers has a story to.

Lara owns the florist Blossom & Grow in Dublin. It was not her first choice of career but she has come to it, after reassessing her life after tragedy strikes. Her sensitivity with flowers is astute and she seems to make sub conscious choices for anyone that visits.

But whilst helping others Lara loses something of herself and when another tragedy strikes in her life, she wonders whether it is worth anything at all bringing these flowers into other people’s lives when hers is so damaged and broken.

As each different customer walks through the door of Blossom & Grow, or has some connection with Lara or the other main characters, Ella Griffin weaves a tale like a ribbon around a blossoming bouquet. Everything eventually comes back to Lara and Blossom & Grow, but for a time we are taken through other characters lives and how flowers have helped them.

This is such a sensitively written novel, I was so drawn into the flowers and the way that different ones take us all to different places and evoke different memories, that it simply enhanced a wonderful plot.

At times I felt I was reading a book full of some short stories and some long, perhaps reflecting the length of life certain flowers have when they are cut, but what the author, in my opinion has cleverly done is bring everything together as such just like a bouquet. A really warm, uplifting story and flowery in all the right ways.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me a copy of this book for review. The Flower Arrangement is out now on kindle. 

This is the first Ella Griffin I have read. I knew nothing of the author before I chose this book, I just liked the sound of it. Yet again I have picked an author from Ireland and it seems when I do this, I am guaranteed such a wonderful story that I get swept away with it all.

This is also the second book (I think without checking) that I have read this year which has featured flowers. There appears to be a number of themes coming out of the books I have read so far this year. 

Books

Spare Brides – Adele Parks

The Great War is over, a new decade has dawned and it will bring some changes. However for four women, the effect of the war is going to last a lot longer and change their lives in ways they may not have imagined.

Lydia is one of the lucky ones, her man survived the war. She knows nothing of heartache, of poverty only of wealth and a protected privileged lifestyle.

Her friend, Ava is only out to have a good time. She does not want to be tied down, she doesn’t want to go through the expected rigmarole of marriage and all the expectations of society. Ava is ahead of her time, she is what Lydia seems to emulate, but somehow only Ava can make it look right and respectable.

Sarah and her sister Beatrice are in a different class it seems to Ava and Lydia, despite them all having once dazzled as debutante. Sarah is living her life as best she can now she no longer has a husband and is a war widow with children to bring up. Beatrice is living a secondary lifestyle in society as she is not going to stand out amongst her sparkling friends and has to make do helping someone else become that debutante and find the right man.

These four women drive the story along, although for me it was dominated too much by Lydia and her story. I would like to have learnt more about Sarah and Beatrice and their family. Their brother features intermittently to show that some men came back from war but they came back irreparably damaged. Ava was a feisty character and I liked her the most, her intelligence was her asset and she used her beauty and position in society to simply move forward ideas. She was the one who was going to gain the most unlike Lydia who seemed to have much to lose.

I did not at any point warm to Lydia, her attitude grated me and her actions were testing. Whilst I did not like her very much, this actually made her a character you loved to despise. There is some skill in an author to evoke that sort of reaction in me. I read on as Lydia’s choices unfolded in front of me and I was unable to do anything about it, especially as they seemed to take a long time to build to any sort of conclusion. When it got there I was not left surprised.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Adele Parks debut into historical fiction. It is a difficult genre to perhaps tackle and this was a very good first attempt. It was a book that challenged me and took me into a different time and place. I am interested to see if her future writing takes back to other periods and whether she can successfully combine the two.

My review is perhaps a little woolly. I enjoyed the book as I do historical fiction. I have read some of Parks other novels, so I was interested to see how she tackled this. The overriding factor that I noticed is that I read the book, her women’s fiction novels I can get trough at quite a pace. This was a book that needed to be savoured and read carefully, which is why it challenged me. I had made an assumption when I picked it up that I would be reading it as if I was reading her contemporary fiction. I was wrong.

It is interesting always to see when an author takes another direction. 

 

Books

The Mistake I Made – Paula Daly

I have a confession to make. I made a mistake with this book when I saw it on netgalley, not really paying attention I thought this was the new book from Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train) and requested it. Of course I realised my mistake later on and more to the point, how would Paula Hawkins have had time to write another book in such a short space of time? Anyway, I thought as it was on my kindle, I would give it a go…………..

The book blew me away. It was a fantastic read, a page turner which I devoured in less than 24 hours. I had to know. I had to get an answer. And if you pick this book up, then I implore you to have nothing to do for the next day or so (depending on how quick you read) and devour it too. 

This is a book mistake I am so glad I made. 

Roz is holding on to everything she has got, but it is slowly slipping away from her. She had a successful physiotherapy practice, but that went, she had a marriage, but that went, she had a lifestyle, but that went.

All she has now is her son who seems to be unsettled at school. Debts which are becoming unmanageable and….. an eviction notice.

Roz is desperate and has to consider doing anything to put everything right.

She meets Scott and it seems he can make it all right for Roz…. for a price.

It could solve a number of Roz’s problems. But can she morally justify to herself this type of behaviour. Does she have a choice?

Roz has got in too deep and the consequences reach far and wide.

As the book goes on, you question many of Roz’s actions that have led her to the place she is in. I also questioned whether I should like Roz or not? Yes or No? It is very conflicting, you can see how she got into the mess, you can also see how she could have gotten out of it, but chose not to take those options, you understand the basic need to survive at all costs. Then suddenly with a complete twist which the author brings out of nowhere, I had the utmost sympathy for her. Perhaps I do like her?

Although in books like this, character dominates greatly, here the author has kept it authentic and grounded by Roz’s occupation as a physiotherapist. You learn much about how the body works, which for me as an interesting concept. Roz knows how the body works, but can she possibly begin to understand how you can detach a working body from the emotion and feelings that are generated in the situation she finds herself.

Then there is the location of the book, the Lake District. Beautiful scenery is described as we see actions unfold, that it almost taints the surroundings.

Somehow, Paula Daly brings everything together and writes a cracking good page turner. This is a book which had me open-mouthed at various points, is a thriller which you simply cannot put down.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me to read this book. 

The Mistake I Made is out now in hardback and on kindle.

Sometimes making a mistake with a book, pays off – it did here. Let me know of any mistakes you have made in terms of your reading choices. 

Books

A Meditation on Murder – Robert Thorogood

If you like classic mysteries then this is certainly the book for you. In the vein of the Golden Age Detective, Robert Thorogood’s debut novel bringing to life some characters which you may be familiar with on-screen.

Death in Paradise is a BBC Crime Drama set on a Caribbean island and has been on our screens since 2011. This book picks up the original characters from the first series, DI Richard Poole, very much out of sorts being on a Caribbean island. Camille, still feisty and trying to understand the weird ways of her English boss. Of course we have the wonderful Fidel, who is organised and methodical and then there is Dwayne who with his network of contacts and friends, seems to always know someone who knows someone about whatever crooked deal is going on. Whether he is on the right side is a question that is never answered.

To add to reliable characters and humour,  you have a classic locked room story. One murder, five suspects, a locked door. Surely it is a simple solution. But then if you know how detective novels work then you know it will not be and everything is not as it may seem, even drawing pins.

DI Poole’s instincts tell him one thing, the evidence another and the person that confesses something completely different. He has to unpick all of the strands of this story and find the solution. It is there, staring him and us as readers in the face, but can you spot it?

If you have never watched or even heard of the programme, that do not let that put off the novel. It is a great novel, which is very much harking back to the old days of detective novels. There is no need for page after page of blood, guts and gore. It may be simple in its storytelling but it is all very effective.

We are even brought into the incident room at the Honore Police Station as the evidence is on the board for us to see, read and come to our own conclusions. (This did not work well layout wise on kindle or iPad for reading – I hope the actual book it seems better).

When you have all the clues in front of you, heard the evidence and dismissed the red herrings, of course the murderer is obvious……….

I hope you discover this delightful read soon.

I stumbled across this book on Amazon by accident and I am glad I did. Especially as I see there are going to be two more novels after this one. Thank you to Robert Thorogood – though I wonder whether these stories will subsequently appear as plots in future episodes. 

I do like what my mum and I call a nice murder. This TV programme and certainly this book fit into the category well.

I love watching the programmes and though I have to confess that I much prefer DI Humphrey Goodman than I do, DI Richard Poole, but that is personal preference. Of course you can indulge in the setting and the warmth of the Caribbean without having to leave the comfort of your chair. Which is why I think scheduling this series in Winter is just the tonic needed and I think reading this book in the more wetter and colder days, will also help…… “the Caribbean sea sparkled emerald green as it lapped against the white sand……”

Perhaps Robert Thorogood might want to pop by this blog and write something about his TV series and his novels, once the latest one is finished?