December Roundup

That’s it then – all done for 2018!

Of course to keep in with the rest of this blog structure, I of course have to do a December Roundup Post. So without further ado….

I sort of lost my reading mojo a bit in December, probably because it is a fully packed and busy 3 weeks before I have time off work and it is a case of sleep,swim,work,eat and repeat for a number of the days with added socialising as well.

But of course I did read some books and I have a head start on 2019 with Carole Matthews – Happiness for Beginners a real delightful book to brighten the greyest of days. And behind with last years reading and probably my last Christmas Book for 2018 was the lovely signed, hardback copy of Carole Matthews – Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights where I revisited previous characters and it was like reading about old friends – I just hope that there is more to come from these particular characters.

Getting ahead again with 2019 (I will soon get behind) took me to Sheila Norton – The Pet Shop at Pennycombe Bay. It was back last year that I picked up a Sheila Norton novel and they seem to always have a few pets at the heart of the story and are a delight to read.

I have spent probably a greater part of this years reading with commercial women’s fiction but I do like historical fiction and should I know probably read more of it. Being transported abroad and to another time is almost like an adventure but with Jennifer McVeigh – Leopard at the Door it was rather a frightening eye opener as I learnt about the Mau Mau.

Sometimes I miss out on the big books the books that everyone is reading about and talking about which is how I was passed Joel Dicker – The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. I knew nothing of heard anything about it – set in America and a translation as well I was hooked and could see the fascination and it kept reading well into the night. As for the TV adaptation I am not a subscriber to SKY so it has passed my by, but probably the old adage is appropriate here – the book is always better?

Finding the start of a series is always frustrating when you have to wait what seems an age for the next part and no more so than with Jessica Fellowes – Bright Young Dead, the second of the books using the Mitford Sisters as characters and focusing on real events woven into the stories. It was a book I thoroughly enjoyed but strongly felt you needed to have read the first book to get any sense of a greater part of the first third of this. I hope the subsequent novels are not like this.

Adam Kay – This is Going to Hurt was a recommendation picked up from a friend, I spotted it on my 6 monthly (who am I kidding?) book buying spree in Waterstones, read a paragraph, chuckle loudly, bought the book, the assistant told me it was hilarious and I pretty much started reading it as soon as I got home. Black Humour – we all have it our places of work, I certainly do but I don’t think it would translate well into a book – this on the other hand does. The secret diaries of a now former Junior Doctor, a great insight to the medical world and people! They are all out there!

So that was December, I close the year reading a saga from Jennifer Wells who I discovered in 2018. I have plenty to keep me going in 2019 and I will of course bring you a round-up of 2018 in the coming days.

In the meantime – Happy New Year!



The Rumour – Lesley Kara

Joanna and her young son Alfie move to Flinstead, to move out of London, to be near Joanna’s mother. For a better life for Alfie.

Joanna is the new mum at the school gate, she needs to make friends. So she mentions something that she has heard…..

There is a child killer living in Flinstead.

How does Joanna know? It is only a rumour?

Isn’t it?

Then why is she suddenly being followed by someone on Twitter that seems to be adding truth to this rumour?

Joanna’s almost off the cuff remark, sets a chain of events that makes everyone doubt everyone else.

But is the rumour true?

This book asks lots of questions:

Can a child killer become a reformed adult? Who is really the victim, when the killer released can be given a whole new life and protected? Does the public need to know where these criminals are? What if you are wrongly accused of being that killer? How does that affect a town, a person? So many questions – but does the book have the answers or do we as readers make our own conclusions.

This is an interesting debut novel and difficult to write a review of, because you could perhaps give something away, start a rumour about a possible plot line and outcome and then the books is ruined for all.

It has twists and turns and emotions running right through it, that you can feel yourself caught up in the gossip, though I confess I made the correct assumption but still I had to see what happened, I wanted those various questions answered  – right up to the final line……..

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. This would make an ideal book club read – it raises so many questions. 

The Rumour is out on 27 December 2018. 



Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh

Rachel at 18 has decided to go back to the home she knows in Kenya.

After spending the last 6 years in England away from her father and still very much grieving for her mother, Rachel simply wants to go home.

But the home she is going to doesn’t exist anymore.

It is 1952, the world is changing. Queen Elizabeth has just come to the throne, and the empire is slowly breaking apart and moving away to be independent.

As in Kenya, the Mau Mau are playing a strong role in disturbing the peace and not in a peaceful way. Rachel thinks it is al rumours until she finally reaches her family farm.

Her father warned her not to come, maybe because he knew the risks and the danger ahead and maybe because he had not told her about Sara.

Sara now lives with Rachel’s father along with her son Harold. Sara makes no secret of her dislike of the natives and how she wants to return to some sort of civilised world. Nor does she hide her dislike of Rachel.

Rachel is shocked, the people she grew up with, the cook Jim, her childhood friend Michael are now kept on the periphery of the farm. This is not the world she left behind.

This book places you in the centre of the Kenya uprising and shows a small part of what went on with the rise of the Mau Mau. I knew very little about it, the name synonymous with violence and death but little else. This brought to life the magnificence of the African landscape, the desolation, the heat, the vast expanse, peppered with shots of violence, some of it made me want to stop reading the book. But I had to learn more about Rachel’s life and more about a turbulent time in British and Kenyan History.

I didn’t know where this book was going to lead me and although I had worked out one of the outcomes for Rachel, I did not predict the rest and it opened my eyes.

For fans of Dinah Jefferies or Julia Gregson then this book will appeal to you. Well written and taking a rather difficult and political subject and sparking your interest about it all through the wonder of historical fiction. What more can you ask from a book?

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read the book.

Leopard at the Door is out now. 


The Wish – Alex Brown

Back to Tindledale with this novel from Alex Brown which is a village that has been brought to life be her wonderful stories over the last few years.

Sam Morgan has returned to the village where his wife Chrissie and daughter Holly live, he has been away working hard at making a life for them, so they don’t have to worry about anything. Trouble is he has missed important dates, events and not been there to deal with his daughter’s condition.

Chrissie, his wife is very reluctant to accept Sam back, in fact she doesn’t want him back. All Holly wishes is for her parents to be together again and perhaps she can help that happen.

Jude, Chrissie’s friend and Holly’s godmother is back in Tindledale from America. She takes over the local antiques shop and thinks she can rebuild a life in the village where she grew up and not have to deal with anything from her past. It seems though that someone else’s past might well be there to change things for everyone. With a faded rock star to contend with, as well as her friends marriage problems and goddaughters problems, the peaceful life Jude wants may be a while in coming.

This is a heart warming story which captures the problems of long distance relationships and secrets of the past. The village is not featured as much as previous Tindledale stories but you still get that feel of a community all coming together.

There is plenty to make you laugh, cry and empathise with in this novel and that is what makes it a pleasant read. Personally not of the best Alex Brown novels but a good escapist read if that is needed.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Wish is out now. 



The Disappearance – Annabel Kantaria

Audrey plans a once in a lifetime cruise around the Greek Isles as a 70th birthday present to herself. She asks that her two children – Lexi and John to come away with her.

Lexi and John reluctantly accompany her. But when she goes missing they then start questioning the relationship they have with each other, their deceased father and their mother.

Intriguingly we know that Audrey is missing right from the first page of the book – as we read on we are waiting until we get to that point in the story.

In dual time narrative, we are taken back to another ship and another time. One where Audrey is bound for India, where she meets the man who becomes her husband. When the world and its values were a very different place.

How does Audrey’s past have anything to do with the present and possibly the future?

I found this novel riveting, not just the background to Audrey who I felt sorry for from beginning to end but the well drawn characters of Lexie and John. Lexie has poured her heart and soul into wanting a child. That is her main focus, so much so that it is eating away at her relationship with everyone. My opinion of her changed as she tried to deal with her own personal grief as well as that of looking after an aging mother.

John on the other hand, I disliked from the start and nothing he did made me feel any different. Working himself into an early grave no doubt and trying to maintain a facade that was slowly crumbling. But the hope of an inheritance when his mother dies……

So when did Audrey go missing on that cruise and the ultimate question – did she jump or was she pushed?

There is only one way to find out and that is to read the novel.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. Even if it has taken me a while!

I had not heard of this author before and certainly would be interested to see what else she has written. 


Happily Ever After at the Dog and Duck – Jill Steeples

I thought the previous book was the last in this series about the villagers of Little Leyton. It seemed that everything was tidied up and there were no loose ends, of course sometimes you always want to nip back and see what is happening.

And this is what Jill Steeples has done with this, her definite last book in the series.

Ellie, now finding her feet as a mum, as well as still being the owner of the Dog and Duck and lady of the manor in the big house in the village, which seems to attract everyone.

Ellie realises that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Max and that it is the perfect time for them to get married. So with only a few weeks to get everything organised she adds another thing to do to her already full list!

But she doesn’t bank on a fire, a mother in law moving in, lost dogs, secrets, accidents and snow!

With a lot packed into this book it is obvious that the path to the altar is not going to be straightforward, but has Ellie got the strength?

It was lovely to go back and especially spend another Christmas at Little Leyton, it felt like getting caught up again with your favourite characters in a television programme (that perfect Sunday Night Drama).

Heartwarming and a simply lovely read, best read as a whole series from the beginning then I think you get a real sense of the place and the people.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

All of the Dog and Duck series are out now. 



November Roundup

First of all November was the month where I completed by Goodreads Challenge.

I think this is the first time I have done so as early as mid November. Ironically my reading has since slowed down and I have given up on two books, but more of that later. I am quite chuffed but still maintain I won’t change that 100 number for 2019.

It seemed to be the month of completing series of books as I did when I picked up Emma Davies – Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill. I highly recommend these books and they are great if you fancy a binge read.

It is always a great when you think a series of books is over and then you get another one Jill Steeples – Happily Ever After at The Dog & Duck does just that and now I think the series is finally over! Again another lovely set of books to read.

Of course thanks to netgalley I get to read a lot of books but no matter how many I read on my kindle I still love holding a book in my hands and the chunkier the better. That was the case when I picked off my shelf Michelle Magorian – Impossible. This is the author of Goodnight Mister Tom and through the years I have read many of her other books and they have always been a great delight and capturing reads. This one, not so much but not enough to stop reading her books.

Another actual hold in your hand book was Celia Imrie – Sail Away. I have always been sceptical of famous people or ‘celebs’ writing fiction and in some cases it doesn’t always work and in others it does. This falls into the latter (thank goodness) and was a great pick since I went on my first cruise this year. Luckily though none of the things that happened in this book I was aware of on my cruise. But I did miss seeing any of the dancing in the afternoon!

Cruising seemed to be a theme when I then unaware picked up Annabel Kantaria  – The Disappearance. It had been languishing on my netgalley to read shelf which was the only reason for choosing it. But did she jump or was she pushed? Who, where and why? You will have to read the book to find out for yourself.

The classic whodunnit means I alway go back to Agatha Christie and in slow time bid to read all her novels I have ticked another off the list – Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders. This is one of the latest Sarah Phelps adaptations and will be shown over the Christmas period on the BBC.

Obviously because Christmas is coming I cracked on with some more Christmas reading with a most recent publication Veronica Henry – Christmas at The Beach Hut. A good festive read on the beach and a return to a place the author has been before. Ironically The Beach Hut was the first of this authors work that I read!

The final book for the month I read was Alex Brown – The Wish another book which has been hanging around on my netgalley shelf and I don’t know why because I enjoy this authors work. Sometimes you can have just too many books to read and not enough time.

I am currently reading a book I knew nothing about – The Truth About the Harry Querbert Affair which has got me gripped but I have been so busy with birthdays, nights out, work that the reading and the knitting has taken a bit of a back seat.

Whether it is because I have been busy or tired but there were two books which just did not do it for me. The Last Romeo – Justin Myers and The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness – Laura Kemp. We should probably give up on more books than we do as there are so many more out there to read.

So that’s November and here we are in December and I need some more Christmas reading to get me in the spirit after a whole weekend of Christmas decorating at work.