Books · Jottings

March Roundup

It has been a very odd month reading wise – work has been horrendous in varying measures and I have been so exhausted and stressed by it all I have probably not read as much as I normally do and had a slump of about five days when I just could not get into any book at all.

I felt disheartened, especially when I ploughed on with Judy Leigh – The Age of Misadventure when I perhaps should have given it up. It was an okay book, but nothing about the characters made me warm to any of them and if anything they were quite irritating and the plot meant you needed to suspend reality for a little while. I know some have loved it and will love it but it really was not for me. That will be my extent of my review on netgalley.

I did try to start a number of other books over the month, The Road to Grantchester was one, which I read quite a bit, but I found the war setting at the beginning rather harrowing and put the book down, as I felt it was not helping my mental state. In the end I just went a couple of days without reading.

It all sounds depressing but there was some lovely bright reads amongst my melancholy March!

Sarah Bennett – Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle this is the first in a new series from Sarah Bennett, who I have been reading since her first book was published and you will find her a popular author on this blog. This I think is goign to be the beginning of the best series so far. I am pitching it as Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey – it will bring some much needed sun and warmth into your life. It helped me no end – and I cannot wait to go back to Bluebell Castle.

Of course Cornwall always brings as smile to the soul, even if I have never been and only lived the place vicariously through my reading. Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Summer does just that and adds in a food festival to make your mouth water as you read. A perfect read for summer and holidays in fact at anytime!

So from Derbyshire with Sarah to Cornwall with Phillipa I then went to the Cotswolds with Liz and more food after all that travelling. Liz Eeles – New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle treats us to a cup of tea and a cherry tart if you fancy in the cafe situated in a bookshop. What more could a book loving customer want! And we can go back for seconds at the Cosy Kettle when the next book comes out.

The last few years my blog has been dominated by a lot of women’s fiction – I know that is not everyones cup of tea but isn’t that the great thing about reading and books? Something to fit everyone and every mood. Of course I do love a good historical saga and anything set in the past as well which is why some of the books I read are vastly different to the perhaps the majority!

That was the case with this debut novel Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot: A Lizzie Hardwicke Novel where I was transported back to the 18th century, to London, to highwaymen, murders and ladies of the night. What an interesting background for a murder mystery and an interesting twist of a sidekick for a detective!

Further forward to the Second World War with Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village a dual timeline and narrative about a village requisitioned and never returned to its residents. It still lays empty today.

Even further forward to the 1980s and 1990s, as I grow older I realise this is very much the past and history for some! Tracy Buchanan – The Family Secret  a new author to me and one who I will return to. This is a story of mothers, of loss and of secrets that are kept to protect and punish others. Fascinating and gripping!

All of the books read in March are from netgalley requests and I think I need to spend some time reading off my shelves for a while. So many books calling out to me and with two weeks of holiday about to start, there is plenty of time for reading.

Happy April everyone!

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Knitting · Witterings

Parish Notices

Hello all!

Just thought I would stop by for a quick hello and update of what is going on around here.

In a matter of days I am taking part in a Blog Tour for Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle.

She wasn’t looking for love…

When Lucie Kennington flees the bright lights of London for the quiet Derbyshire countryside, she’s shocked to discover that the heir to the Bluebell Castle estate is far from the wizened employer she expected.

In fact, Arthur Ludworth might just be the most handsome man Lucie’s ever laid eyes on – and a terrible distraction! So when she stumbles across a legendary painting feared lost for centuries, she can’t believe her luck – perhaps this is the hidden treasure to save Arthur and his family from ruin?

But it’s only a matter of time before Lucie’s past catches up with her and by then it’s too late, she’s falling for him…

Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Rachael Lucas and Hilary Boyd.

In more reading news and a very different change from Sarah Bennett’s book I have stepped back in time to the days of the Bow Street Runners and Highwaymen. You will have to wait until May for this one though.

A gripping historical crime debut from an exciting new voice.‘It’s strange, the way fortune deals her hand.’

The year is 1759 and London is shrouded in a cloak of fear. With the constables at the mercy of highwaymen, it’s a perilous time to work the already dangerous streets of Soho. Lizzie Hardwicke makes her living as a prostitute, somewhat protected from the fray as one of Mrs Farley’s girls. But then one of her wealthy customers is found brutally murdered… and Lizzie was the last person to see him alive.

Constable William Davenport has no hard evidence against Lizzie but his presence and questions make life increasingly difficult. Desperate to be rid of him and prove her innocence Lizzie turns amateur detective, determined to find the true killer, whatever the cost.

Yet as the body count rises Lizzie realises that, just like her, everyone has a secret they will do almost anything to keep buried…

Also if you have not caught these on my blog yet – do go and check them out. Worth a read I promise.

 

Cathy Bramley – A Vintage Summer OUT NOW 

My Review can be found here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holly Martin – The Summer of Chasing Dreams 

Published on 29 March – This week!!!

My Review can be found here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julie Caplin – The Northern Lights Lodge OUT NOW

My review can be found here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So that was a quick round up of the books that have been read in recent weeks but what else have I been doing….


Perhaps more about these two journeys on another post.

 

Books · Jottings

February Roundup

Yes we have just had February and even if the weather was very spring if not summer like I can confirm that February is still in winter!

Back to more inclement weather for the UK as I compose this post. As for my reading well the seasons did play a small part.

Cathy Bramley – A Vintage Summer new novel for 2019 is a delight. I dived right in without even reading the blurb on the back. You just have to do that with some authors, you can have confidence in their writing,their plot and their characters. This did not disappoint and took me right into the vineyards and Yorkshire!

If I was too hot in the summer there was no need, because a trip to Iceland was the perfect place to cool down in Julie Caplin – The Northern Lights Lodge. Where I experienced, waterfalls, ice climbing and friendship in abundance. Oh how I want to go myself and see it all.

Having holidays vicariously through books is a pleasure many get and so was the case with Holly Martin – The Summer of Chasing Dreams where I went round the world with Eva and her hunky tour guide Thor.

Some people chose to holiday closer to home and you can find no better place than Cornwall where I went on more than one occasion. Holly Hepburn – The Picture House by the Sea was a lovely book and if you are a fan of those great old films then you will relish how Gina brings an old cinema back to life along with an old romance too.

I went back to Pendruggan, the fictional setting for Fern Britton – The Newcomer, where many a book has been set and we see the temporary female vicar make her present felt in this Cornish village.

Going back to familiar places is the same as going back to familiar authors which is why I picked up Trisha Ashley – Written from the Heart, very different from her most recent work. In the spirit of completeness I wanted to read this book previously published as Happy Endings.

A rather romantic, women’s fiction dominated month and whilst I fitted in some historical fiction this was still very strongly female dominated. Natasha Solomons – House of Gold – Greta Goldbaum is the main female character and behaves in a way not becoming of a Goldbaum wife or mother. Times are changing for the Goldbaums.

Without a doubt, at the moment my favourite saga series is the Shipyard Girls. I was lucky enough to get the latest book Nancy Revell – Courage of the Shipyard Girls. It is 1942, the war is still on and it is starting to directly affect the Shipyard Girls and becomes rather too close for comfort. Whilst the bombs rain down, the malicious actions of some will have some nasty consequences. I cannot wait until the next part is out.

Not bad for February…bring on March with more days for reading!

 

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

 

2019 has begun and we are already a month down. I hope if you have had snow you are safe, well and warm and if you haven’t the same sentiment applies! I am warm and we had a fluttering of snow but as for being well, I am shaking of the remnants of a chest infection and thank my GP, the wonder that is the NHS and antibiotics who made feel a lot better when I really didn’t know I was that ill.

As for the books that kept me going in January – it was a mixed bag and only one of them was an actual book – Sara Sheridan – Russian Roulette. I enjoy the adventures of Mirabelle Bevan and whilst I may not blog about the series anymore, do feel free to search the blog for the ones I have spoken about and you may well find another series to get into. Great for Murder Mystery fans.

More murder and more mystery came with the second book in another series Anthony Horowitz – The Sentence is Death. The author is in fact a character in the book and lets you into his ‘real’ life. If you know the name, you will know his oeuvre. It sounds confusing but actually is the least confusing thing about the mystery.

With murder there comes guilt. But what if the guilt was you witnessed a crime? Mel McGrath – The Guilty Party explores this concept but who is telling the truth? A very different sort of thriller, not the best I have read but interesting nonetheless.

I started 2018 reading Jennifer Wells and I started 2019 doing exactly the same. What on the fact of it seem ‘sagas’ they are in fact much more than that. Jennifer Wells – The Secret, this year’s read was no different. During the 1920s, a dancer is taken to a house to rest. In 1942 a nurse visits the same house. Surely the two things cannot be connected?

A new author to me was Helen Rolfe – The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier. Previously released as short novellas, this is the whole book (and my prefered way of reading said stories). As living somewhere with 2 piers, I felt drawn to the story and the food that was being served at the Little Cafe. If this is the quality of the writing, I will certainly be back for more.

A while since I have read any Rachael Lucas but I was drawn by the cover of this one Rachael Lucas – Finding Hope at Hillside Farm. Hope can be found in many forms at Hillside Farm but for its owner Ella and her horses, it is going to change her life forever.

Finally a book which I flew through in less than 24 hours, okay so I was aided by the fact the constant coughing kept me awake but so did the book too. In fact I recommended it to my friend as she was having a tough time and she flew through it too. So I heartily recommend Christie Barlow – Love Heart Lane. A book which will definitely make it onto the books of the year and it only being January is a feat I know but also the joy that I get to go back and visit Love Heart Lane later in the year. The book is already on preorder!!

So that was January…how was yours?

 

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

Hello readers!

A while since I have written anything on this blog other than book reviews, which I am sure is what you really do stop by for!

Hopefully when the mood strikes, I may well pop back and talk more about other things in life but in the meanwhile it is still books.

Which leads me to a few things:

I read The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier at the beginning of January – but my original post title and cover was called A Year at the Cafe at the End of the Pier which when I requested it from Netgalley was the original title. So all updated.

I was also sent this lovely personalised quote card from Hodder & Stoughton to promote The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.

And with some excitement here is the cover of Heidi Swain’s new novel.

This should give me at least chance to read the only Heidi Swain novel I have yet to read and then I will be ready!

Do check out the reviews where I have put up links and here is a list of all of the Heidi Swain novels:

The Cherry Tree Cafe (the one I have yet to read)

Summer at Skylark Farm

Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market

Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage 

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2018

Before January runs aways with us – I thought I should look back at the books I read in 2018.Books in 2018

So a few stats:

 

109 Books Read – My challenge completed in November, which I am sure is a first!

The shortest book was 34 pages.

The longest book was 738 pages.

In total of the 109 books that is 35,040 pages equal to 671 pages per week or 95 pages per day.

In terms of physical books and ebooks – this year the kindle overtook at 78 books and I know this is down to the wonder that is netgalley which is giving me the opportunity to read so many books before they are published or just as they are in return for a review.

New for 2018 was re-read and this was one book – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society a wonderful book which I wanted to remind myself of as I was looking forward to seeing the film.

Never mind the statistics what of the actual books – oh gosh well here it goes I suppose.

Regular readers of this blog will know I am a big Lucinda Riley fan which is why of course no list would be without one of her books – I held onto The Pearl Sister to read in 2018

CeCe feeling rejected, unwanted and definitely unloved begins her travels to Australia with the only clue that her adoptive father has left her the name of a woman pioneer and an old black and white photograph. Two things that seemingly have no links to each other let alone CeCe.

But this is a Lucinda Riley book and there is a link and a wonderful and beautiful story to tell.

And rather than wait and saviour the next in The Seven Sisters series I dived straight into The Moon Sister

The author, transported me back to this place, the darkness of the caves, the problems that the gitanos faced being on the outer edges of the city, of society, of religion, of what was considered normal behaviour. But showed a community brought together by all that makes them different, the culture, the music and of course the dance.

Words are lyrical, they can take you somewhere, they can form pictures in your imagination. But in this book, the description of the flamenco dancing and the music, but the flamenco especially, just resonates off the page. You can feel the vibrations of the feet, as they stamp and form, as the beat increases, as the arms move in almost synchronicity to the feet, as the dress is moved in time to the music and as the appreciative audience are held spellbound by such a display.

Reading multiple books by the same author certainly seems to have been a ‘thing’ of 2018 and therefore mention must go to:

Phillipa Ashley

I enjoy Phillipa Ashley’s novels, she writes with such warmth, that it feels that I am transported to wherever she wants to take me and I become part of the story which is why I can read her books so quickly. The only downside being I then have to wait ages for the next one! I either need to read slower or Phillipa needs to write quicker!

Christie Barlow

A warm fuzzy novel that leaves you wanting more and as Christie Barlow writes more her storylines go from strength to strength. You will not be disappointed.

Sarah Bennett

Yet again Sarah Bennett delivers a story which has you falling in love not just with the gorgeous Jack but the setting as well. I wanted to walk along the promenade at the bay as well as delight in the smell of the lavender that I am convinced was seeping off the pages.

Cathy Bramley

I could see it coming and this is no reflection on Cathy Bramley’s writing or plotting. The book is well written and you could see that the author has reflected on all the characters and the effect the tragedy would have on them. This was not simply about one person’s issues and the rest of the characters faded into the background you got the full effect and you almost had to decide what you would perhaps do in that situation?

Emma Davies

This is the final book in the series of the Little Cottage on the Hill. I would heartily recommend reading all of them in order (my OCD kicking in) because that way you’ll understand the draw of Joy’s Acre, as well as experience such strong writing and characterisation.

Holly Martin

Thank you Holly for the joy you bring in your writing.

Heidi Swain

Heidi Swain in my opinion has done it again in drawing you into a story which of course has a romantic plot line but has so much else going on as well. She manages to make sure all the characters are well-rounded and have depth, even if they are minor and I am as much intrigued by Dorothy and Molly as I was delighted to be able to catch up with Anna and Jamie.

I have picked these authors because I know I will come back to them time and time again – there are some more authors who I read a number of their books during 2018 but whilst they were pleasant diversions realistically sometimes you have to stick to your favourites. Maybe I will come back to them in years to come – who knows?

Of course when you find new authors you cannot neglect your favourites and so the year would not be complete without reading one (or more) of their novels. So here goes my annual mention for Trisha Ashley – The House of Hopes and Dreams

This book has everything you might want in a book, romance, death, big houses, dogs, cake, quirky characters, history and laughs. Not sure you could ask for more really?

A favourite of mine for 2018 and it’s only February, I could in fact go back to the beginning and read the whole thing again!

And of course Veronica Henry – A Family Recipe 

A heartwarming novel which shows you the strength of love, the choices you make and the place that you should always call home. What more of a recipe do you need to read this book?

Then of course I have gone back to some sagas and I am itching to read the next in the series of the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell

I cannot say that these novels have becoming formulaic or boring, the author somehow injects different plot devices into them just to keep us readers on our toes and also covers some of the more less publicised aspects of the Second World War. I am intrigued as to where the author will go next.

This series of novels has really captured me and it is a long time since I have read any decent sagas which I want to return to and continue the story. I envy anyone who picks up the first of these novels – they have such joy to come.

I personally think the last couple of years my reading has been dominated by women’s fiction and whilst I may not be reading the books every critic or newspaper column thinks I should be reading – I have read simply what I have wanted to. Do you know what? I have loved every page of it.

Of course there have been some books which did not really do it for me and whilst I persevered with some I did give up a few others. I really believe in passing on a book and know that some books work for some and others don’t.

Interestingly The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton features on many favourites – I could not get on with it.

 

I persevered because the book is clever, the concept of seeing something happen again and again but in the guise of someone else is intriguing. The twist of being able to stop it to save yourself gives it another added layer.

But I wonder whether this book was simply too clever for me? I think it might have been. It had all the right elements I like in novels, a cast of characters both masters and servants, a big house, set in the past, a mystery, a twist but it whilst it held my attention enough to keep me reading I was left feeling rather flat at the end.

Others disliked Dear Mrs Bird – AJ Pearce which I adored.

This is a wonderful novel which transports you into the heart of Emmeline’s life, into the heart of London, into the reality that is war on the Home Front. Not afraid to tackle subjects either through the letters that are written in to Mrs Bird or the main storyline of the book, this debut author captured my heart and attention immediately and I was completely drawn into the story.

Who else should get a mention, Jenny Colgan, Lesley Kara, Adam Kay, Carole Matthews, Lily Graham, Ruth Jones and Gail Honeyman. 


 

 

 

 

So that was 2018 and I did not sign up for any specific challenges in 2018 other than wanting to read 100 books and at least 4 Agatha Christie. 1 out of 2 is not bad! It was 3 for the Christie and I will certainly try for another 4 this year. Other than the obvious 100 books I will take the year and my reading as it comes!

Books · Jottings

Challenge Completed!

Just a quick interruption to reviews to say that I have reached the goal I set myself back at the beginning of the year. 

I did consider adjusting the goal but decided that was not the original plan so I am going to simply keep on reading and see where I get to at the end of the year. Then maybe it might be a different figure for 2019.

I am not sure why I have hit the target now as the last few years it has gone right to the last day of December.

Have the books been shorter? Have I not watched as much television? Have the books and authors been so good that I have had to keep reading? Whatever the answer I think this is the first year in six when I have got there with days to spare.

So if you will excuse me I better get back to the reading……..