Books · Jottings

August Roundup

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will probably know that August is a bumper month when it comes to reading and this August was seemingly no different.

Despite buying more books (as if I need them!) I was trying to make a more concerted effort to read from shelves and so that is how I came to pick up Jane Healey – The Animals at Lockwood Manor which had been languishing for a while. It was a rather strange book, with a gothic twist set during the war, but I have feeling these types of books never really feel like that with me. It was a pleasant enough diversion and made room on the shelf for my purchases.

A book of the year and one that all fans of reading and books must read is this debut Sara Nisha Adams – The Reading List. A book about all those books that have helped us in the past and continue to do so in the present and the future. The story weaved around such classics as Little Women and Rebecca was really impactful and I felt I had a glimpse into another life for a while.

Glimpsing into another life with Mel Giedroyc – The Best Things was like watching a car crash in slow motion, except this was not a car crash but a financial one. As a family disintegrates in front of our eyes, we see how that money is not the answer to all our happiness. I will be intrigued as to what this author produces next. I sensed a lot of research and experience in this book that others might not necessarily have brought to such a novel.

Research is the key to all historical fiction and it was clear that in Celia Imrie – Orphans of the Storm had an abundance of it. I knew nothing of the real people fictionalised into the book. I knew from the setting of the book and the time period where we would be going with it, but that it was all true was a surprise. I was most grateful to have read this on my kindle which meant that I could not easily flick to the back where all the ‘research’ and ;’real life’ notes were covered. It really would have spoilt the book for me.

I do love my history and when it becomes relatively local to me in setting then I always take bit more of an interest. Tracy Chevalier – A Single Thread was featured heavily on local news when the hardback version was published, but I waited until the paperback copy before I indulged in this glorious tale of Embroiderers’, Winchester Cathedral and the possibilities of being a single woman so soon after the First World War. I have never read any Chevalier before and of course I have heard of her most famous novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring but for some reason have never picked it up. Next time I am in a bookshop…..

Now it looks like August was the month of Catherine’s or Cath’s. First up is Cath Staincliffe – Running out of Road; her latest novel combines three unrelated people caught up in a very modern story, that you could have been reading a news report. You will have felt you have run more than one road when you get to the end. Catherine Cooper – The Chateau is another book which kept me hooked and turning the page until I could begin to make sense of the characters portrayed and they had all ended up in France in this Chateau.

And to have a bit of a rest from all that thrilling adventure it was a pure joy to pick up Cathy Bramley – A Patchwork Family. These are the sorts of books I buy without even reading the blurb on the back and just dive straight in and become immersed in the story. It was beautiful and had me quietly weeping as the joy of brining all generations together to thrive really worked.

Another author I have no doubt about diving straight into is Trisha Ashley – One More Christmas at the Castle and this is her latest. A Christmas novel in August always seems an alien concept but I don’t care the world has been topsy-turvy enough of late to worry about such things. This is a delightful book and I adored it and any fan of Trisha Ashley will too.

Whilst I only have one of Trisha Ashley’s back catalogue to read, I do still have a few more of Caroline Roberts – The Seaside Cocktail Campervan to catch up on. But in the meantime in her latest I was transported to parties, festivals and markets to partake of a cocktail and a pizza or two and to fall in love with the main characters. I do hope we get to see more of them in future novels.

I am up to date with the wonderful Tracy Rees – The Rose Garden and her latest historical offering which brought the plight of various different females, of various different creeds and classes in London near the turn of the twentieth century. How far and how little the position of women has perhaps come in those intervening years. I am now looking forward to coming back to the present with Tracy Rees more contemporary offering for Christmas.

And as the month closes I return to Ann Cleeves and her new detective, Matthew Venn. Ann Cleeves – The Heron’s Cry. A classic piece of writing from this author, in the vein of all her others but with the background of North Devon and the tense conscious of a detective with a methodical clam presence which covers the guilt he seems to carry with him.

The Christmas books are now appearing alarming regularity so I can see how the next couple of months are going to be spent. Hopefully punctuated by some other great reads too. Do keep reading to find out more.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six 2021 – My Choices

Here are my choices for this years Six in Six – there is still time to join in. Please see the original post here for all the details.

  • Six authors I have read before

Sarah Bennett – Summer Kisses at Mermaid’s Point

Tracy Rees – The Little Book of Secrets

Heidi Swain – A Taste of Home

Holly Martin – Sunlight over Crystal Sands

Katie Fforde – A Wedding in the Country

Helena Dixon – Murder in the Belltower/Murder at Elm House

  • Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past

Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls on the Home Front 

Helen Fripp – The French House 

Kate Quinn – The Rose Code

Emily Hourican – The Glorious Guinness Girls 

Lorna Cook – The Girl from the Island

Liz Fenwick – The River Between Us 

  • Six books I have read but not reviewed

Lucinda Riley – The Sun Sister

Julia Quinn – Bridgerton: The Duke and I

Marika Cobbold – On Hampstead Heath

Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Wedding

Christine Lee – The Midwife’s Sister

Amanda Owen – Tales from the Farm from the Yorkshire Shepherdess

  • Six books that I really want to buy in the next 6 months

Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood

Stacey Halls – Mrs England

Emma Barnett – Period

Sue Teddern – Annie Stanley, All At Sea

Jodie Chapman – Another Life

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

  • Six books that feature a building in the title

Julie Caplin – The Little Swiss Ski Chalet

Katie Ginger – The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse

Poppy Alexander – The Littlest Library 

Rachael Lucas – The Village Green Bookshop 

Beth Cowan-Erskine – Loch Down Abbey

Gervase Phinn – Tales out of School

  • Six book covers that were bright and cheerful

So that is my Six in Six. It is always great to look back and I cannot wait to see where the next six months of reading takes me.

I will be back in August with a roundup post of all the blogs that have joined in and shared their last six months reading. Still time to take part!

Books · Jottings

Parish Notices

Hello readers, I hope things are well in your parishes?

I thought I might pop on and share some recent books with you, just in case you haven’t had the chance to hear about them.

Hidden Secrets at the Little Village Church – Tracy Rees

A warm and heartfelt book where I wasn’t sure if I could warm to the two main protagonists who I found tiresome, sullen and quite prickly at the beginning. They both needed a good shake, but how wonderful to see such a small task be able to change Gwen and Jarvis and also my perception about them as I learnt more……..Thank you Tracy Rees this book was a pure tonic of a read and if you want to write more like this I for one will certainly be reading them. A little book of pure joy.

Holidays are quite the topic at the moment, but you can escape through reading I promise you and you might even find a mermaid on your travels.

Summer Kisses at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

Laurie Morgan runs a small café, next door to a gift shop that her parents run, her brother Nick can be found on the tour boats in this delightful costal village and her aunt can also be found popping into help in the café. A real family feel to this book and I am sure in subsequent books we will get to know more about them all.

A wonderful escapist novel, which sweeps you away to the seaside, that takes you for a paddle in the waters, to the mouth watering cakes of Laurie’s café as the well as the warmth of the community environment and the strength of family. This book has so many layers of warmth that you will never feel cold reading it!

I do love a bit of history and I highly recommend this read which fascinated me.

The Girl From the Island – Lorna Cook

This is a fascinating book which gives a real insight into life under German occupation on the island and shows the conflicts and battles that the islanders had to face as well as the occupying German forces as well. The book certainly pushed your expectations to make you think of both sides during the war and for that I commend it.

This latest from Lorna Cook, like her previous novels takes an element of history that is perhaps overlooked or not given as much page space and weaves the fact with the fiction to create a story to draw you in and care.

And a latest finish, which has yet to appear on my blog is the latest from Liz Fenwick

Published in the coming days, this is a real delight and a must for fans of historical fiction, family sagas, big houses and the complexity of family.

What have you been reading in your parish? Anything of note? Anything you are looking forward to? I have only ventured to a bookshop once since restrictions lifted and I will endeavour to get there again because there is a lot of books I want to read…and of course so little time.

Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

I thought it was about time for some notices, it seems that it has been near on four months since I have produced any and you might think this parish had disappeared. It hasn’t but it has certainly been in hibernation.

As spring has sprung and I have been able to go swimming again, it feels like a huge fog or fug has lifted and there has been a little more lightness in many ways. So I dust off this parish notice to let you know about some bits and pieces.

I shared a year of jigsaws with you and I have since finished another one and share that now, just in case you think you have to wait another year! It was a great way of consolidating all I have done and also putting theme somewhere so they were not taking space up on my iPad!

I have of course been creating and perhaps I need to share more of this on my blog too, so here is a sneak peak of something you will see come to life very soon…..

Of course in the main this is a book blog so what about some books – here are a few that might have passed you by and I think are worth a look.

This is a delightful debut novel from Sarah Steele who clearly has a flair for dressmaking, the details that have gone into using this as a means to tell a story is insightful and thoughtful. It really added to the depth of the story for me as these stories ran concurrently and then were all swept and stitched together.

My Review – 11 Jan 2021

This is the debut novel from this author and when I picked it up, I knew little of the subject matter and the history of Champagne. And if truth be known I am not a big fan of it – the drink not the book.

My Review – 3 Mar 2021

This book drew me straight in, I have been fortunate to visit Bletchley Park (and so want to go back) that I really did feel like I was walking through those gates, hunkering down in a hut with nothing but a jumble of letters and paper and pencils to crack something unknowable. What an experience it must have been and Kate Quinn brings that experience so much to life in this book.

My Review – 29 Mar 2021

I hope things are good in your parish? I appreciate everyone who pops by and says hello and also those who just pop by. I hope you find your time here enjoyable and of course pick up a book recommendation or two!

Jottings

A Year of Jigsaws

I though it might be interesting to look back at a particular favourite lockdown hobby for many – jigsaws. This has always been something I have done so in that respect it wasn’t anything new to me, but it did make getting hold of them in the last twelve months rather tricky. I do like a good quality jigsaw and Gibsons are probably my go to place, but some of the following do not come from there, in fact some have come from the street!

Lots has been written about how they are good for you and that even the Queen is known to participate in a jigsaw or two. They are a great timewaster, even as the light fades and it gets chillier I have been known to just find one more piece!

So enjoy this gallery of jigsaws that I have done, I know I am missing some pictures of the 500 piece ones that were part of a set of 4 but they will have been of a similar ilk to the other pictures. I tend to favour 1000 mainly because that is the biggest my jigsaw puzzle board fits and I am not blessed with a table of sorts to keep them on.

oooo those white pieces!
From the street – with pieces missing (circled) I eventually sold, yes sold this on despite the missing pieces!

On with the next 12 months of jigsaws, the perfect distraction from all sorts of things, not just pandemics!

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It has been a while since I have posted any notices around here. I want to say it is because I have been too busy doing all sorts of wonderful things. But it is 2020 and doing all sorts of things are very limited and look like they will remain so for a little while yet.

How are you getting on around your parish?

So what has been happening…

Well reading of course, this is a book blog after all! Here are a couple of recommendations for you, just in case you need more books to read!

There is only one Queen of Crime (Agatha Christie if you don’t know) but what if the Queen was involved in solving crime. Well she needs to fill her days somehow between all the papers, visits and family battles surely?

This really is an exuberant take on the cosy mystery genre and has some good research done on it, to understand the workings of the the Royal Family and also the descriptions of Windsor Castle. There are some humorous moments and it had me laughing out loud and what seems like the absurdity of it all but then do we really know what goes on behind palace walls?

There is something reassuring about Heidi Swain’s novels. They take you to places that you just don’t want to visit, but also live and the beauty is you get to go back again and again.

One of my most favourite books of the year and is an example of escapism reading at it’s best as are all of this author’s novels. Be transported to the wonderful people of Nightingale Square and all that it offers and if you spot a place for sale- let me know, I have my bags packed and I am moving in.

Other than work and swimming (in between lockdowns) I have been busy with crafts. I have made quite a lot this year and I will not bore you with it all. However, I finished a blanket I started in 2019…

Dune Blanket from Attic24 pattern

The only trouble I found starting something in April 2019 and not finishing until November 2020 is that your tension changes quite considerably! Good job it is only a blanket – but it keeps me lovely and warm and that really is a blanket’s purpose in life.

I got into Toft crochet quite considerably through the lockdown and have enjoyed the creative challenges it brings, even if I have a fear of missing out and what all the new things now! One of these challenges was Rohit the Peacock.

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I was not sure about making him, as I have picked up the superstition that anything peacock in the house can bring you bad luck. I think I am safe with this crochet version.

This is an old superstition and an even earlier version claims that having peacock feathers in the house not only brings bad luck but destines any unmarried female to become an old maid.

Many actors will not allow peacock feathers to be brought onto the stage either as a prop or part of a costume and veteran actors and directors have recounted tales of sets falling down during performances that involve peacock feathers.

It is thought the superstition originated in the Mediterranean where the evil eye markings are said to represent the eye of he she-devil Lilith who is responsible for the unexplained deaths of children. By keeping peacock feathers in the house she is ever present and able to watch over your home.

However, in India, China and Japan bringing peacock feathers indoors is actually supposed to increase good luck by providing extra eyes around the house to protect the occupants from danger.

Taken from 7 Bird Superstitions @ Birdspot.co.uk

Perhaps I will share some more creating journey’s again on Parish Notices in the future?

So that is some news and highlights from my parish? How is it in yours?

Books · Jottings

November Roundup

Well only one month to go in 2020, thank goodness though I don’t think we are out of the woods just yet. But November was a month where I hit my annual target of 100 books – such a satisfying feeling and also a month where I have just simply read and not worried (well not too much) about the never ending netgalley request list.

So what was on my November shelf?

Only one Christmas book, I think I reached peak Christmas in the previous couple of months but Anne Marie Ryan – The Six Tales of Christmas was a quiet tale reminiscence of previous American styled Christmas novels that I read. It’s message was very lovely though.

Of course snow for many equals Christmas but the snow in Catherine Cooper – The Chalet was a lot more sinister and this debut thriller novel is one to watch out for. Excellent and kept me hooked quite happily and made a change from all the ‘nice’ books.

To contrast the snow what better than to go back to summer with Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Summer where I caught up with old friends and made some new ones on the lovely bus in Cornwall and with an added dollop of actors as well as clotted cream this made for a great read. I rushed out to buy the next in the series and have started that within the last couple of days of November.

Cornwall was the setting of Raynor Winn – The Salt Path a book leant to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it. I did. I knew nothing of the South West Costal path and it was a joy to read an ‘actual’ book where I could quite happily flick back to the map at the beginning so I could see locations and get a sense of place. One of the downsides of kindle reading is this ability. Wild camping is not something I would want to do, but certainly walking and in Cornwall is a place I would like to be.

More Cornwall was featured in Emma Burstall – A Cornish Secret and Emma Burstall – The Girl Who Came Home to Cornwall. The latter of the two novels I had on my kindle for ages meaning to be read, but knowing it was book five and I had omitted to read book four and it turns out I bought that ages ago to. Anyway, enough of the procrastinating as I know I enjoy this author immensely so I just went from one to the other and it was delightful to just keep reading about the same place, same characters like watching a continuing drama without the break. I do wonder if Emma Burstall has any more plans for Tremarnock.

Now as there are six Mitford sisters, I know that there is more to follow after Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Trial. These are really excellent novels and I got a lovely response on Twitter from the author, because I ‘got the book’ in the way she intended it to be written. I had to go and reread my review just in case I had said something insightful – well I can’t see it. But if the author is happy and then I am happy as the plots of all of these books are great and really tap into my love of history.

Feeling rather ‘out of sorts’ about many things, like many people across the globe no doubt. So I picked up Ben Schott – Jeeves and the King of Clubs again this was because I got the latest Schott novel featuring Jeeves and Wooster through netgalley and realised I had not read the first of these homages. It was spiffing, tip top and everything you would expect from Wodehouse and I have read many over the years. It was a sheer delight to be back in their world and I rush to read the latest and go back and relieve some of Wodehouse’s best. My heart was fair cheered.

Not a bad month overall and I made a dent in some old books on my netgalley list as well as reading some ‘actual’ books, I really much prefer this way, but the kindle has let me read so many more I probably would not have read. It’s a conundrum for many an avid reader I am sure?

So what was on your November shelf? Any plans for December?

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As 2020 ambles along, the reading has been keeping apace and I seem to be devouring more books and spending more time with reading, crafts and jigsaws than I do television. The best bit about July was that first length in the outdoor pool at the gym on the 26th July. Sheer utter bliss!

Of course it is the books you are most interested in – so without further ado.

Proper sagas are what is missing in some of my previous reading months and years and I have found that whenever I go back to them, I seem to what to read more and more. Dilly Court – The Constant Heart a story to get lost in and that I did, I am sure I enjoyed it more by the feel of the book in my hand – I read a tremendous amount on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) but you cannot beat that feeling of being lost in a story and pages and holding on to it in your hands.

Joanna Rees – The Hidden Wife, is the second in a trilogy about the era of the Bright Young Things, the 1920s. This time action in the main has moved to Paris and as the story develops on one side of the channel, the past is stirring things up at home for all the main characters.

Moving forward a few decades got me to Cathy Mansell – The Dublin Girls, although read on kindle this is another author who if you are looking for something of the Catherine Cookson variety, then you have found it. Set in 1950s Ireland it is a great example of fiction that captures you and holds your attention to the very end.

Of course murder mysteries and thrillers can hold your attention too as did Simon Mayo – Knife Edge – the opening few pages have you right in the heart of the plot and the story and whilst I did think it got a bit “ploddy” for a while it soon picked up pace and had your heart racing to the denouement.

Talking of denouements is a great plot to segway into Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit, which was the Read Christie 2020 book for July. One I have never read, very different from a Poirot and a Marple but with the familiar face of Colonel Race who you see in other Christie novels. Another books ticked off my Christie list.

Chattering as I am about lists, I have add a new author for me to catch up on and read more of since I gave Jo Thomas – Escape to the French Farmhouse a go. I was swept away to the french countryside and the lavender fields, the glorious food and the love of a simple life. I cannot think of any better way in escaping the world than with a book like this.

You cannot always escape your past and sometimes it comes back to not just haunt you but to weave its way into your present day as it does with Emma Davies – The Wife’s Choice. A move away from perhaps what you are used to and this was an wonderful look at dysfunctional families and lives that need to move on.

Of course with dysfunctional families you cannot always go back to places you knew as a child but soemtimes you are drawn there as in Trisha Ashley – The Garden of Forgotten Wishes. Trisha’s books get better and better and this is no exception. And for those who cannot get into a garden for whatever reason, read this book – all the hard work without the muddy hands and aching back!

And of course we all like a happy ending, a good old fashioned wedding and a bit of a cry and Caroline Roberts – Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry delivers that in spades. What I assume is the end of series of books featuring Rachel and all her delightful cooking came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading what comes next from this author. (In the meantime I a Chocolate Shop to visit).

So that was July, a mix of genres as I need to be reminded that life is not all sunny and roses, but in the main I spent my time simply enjoying all the stories.

And there is plenty more to come in August.

How was your July? Anything you wish to recommend?

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six 2020 – My Choices

Here are my choices for this years Six in Six – there is still time to join in and it is looking like a bumper year of blogs taking part!

Six Classic or Modern Mysteries

  1. Rachel Rhys – Dangerous Crossing
  2. Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party
  3. Sophie Hannah – The Mystery of the Three Quarters
  4. Agatha Christie  – A Murder is Announced
  5. Sara Sheridan – Highland Fling
  6. John Buchan – The Thirty Nine Steps

Six book covers that stand out

Six books I have enjoyed the most

  1. Brenda Davies – The Girl Behind the Gates
  2. Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party
  3. Sandi Toksvig – Between the Stops
  4. Ali McNamara – Kate and Clara’s Curious Craft Shop
  5. Katie Fforde – A Country Escape
  6. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut

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

  1. Lucinda Riley
  2. Trisha Ashley
  3. Liz Fenwick
  4. Sarah Bennett
  5. Ann Cleeves
  6. Jessica Fellowes

Six books from the past that drew me back there

  1. Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise
  2. Nancy Revell – Triumph of the Shipyard Girls
  3. Jennifer Wells – The Lost Girls
  4. Jane Johnson – The Sea Gate
  5. Fern Britton – Daughters of Cornwall
  6. Jessie Burton – The Muse

Six books set in or near a beach

  1. Carole Matthews – Sunny Days and Sea Breezes
  2. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut
  3. Heidi Swain – The Secret Seaside Escape
  4. Cathy Bramley – A Match Made in Devon
  5. Helen Pollard – The Little Shop in Cornwall
  6. Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Escape

I think I am quite pleased with my choices and 2020 in terms of reading has been good. Of course some books fit in more than one category because they were great and worth reading. Some average books of course but lots that were above average, I hope the next six months is just as interesting!

As I said at the beginning – still time for you to join in!

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It has been a couple of months since we have had any notices around here, so I thought it was about time to share some bits and pieces.

I hope you are all well and adapting to the what I think will be the phrase of 2020 ‘the new normal’. It looks like I will be able to take to the swimming pool in couple of weeks, which I am most looking forward to. Work continues, in a rather odd and stilted fashion with no plans to be made and nothing to work towards other than surviving day to day. They tell me 2021 will be better.

I am still enjoying the jigsaws, the craft continues and of course so does the reading…

What have you read in the last 6 months – do come and join in my Six in Six meme which features but just once a year on this blog. We are a select few that join in but it is still fun.

So what other books can I share with you – something summery and holiday themed perhaps?

 

This is a fantastic read. It has everything you want from a book, humour, tragedy, light and dark moments and covers some difficult subjects with careful consideration. Plus I got to learn a lot about viticulture as well as the word itself! Wonderful characters which are introduced gradually and all play a part in the overall story.

The Cornish setting added to the atmosphere and the author has an uncanny knack of making it all three dimensional away from the page. I could taste the salt in the sea air and feel the heat of the sun.

The Path to the Sea works on so many levels and is a book to escape right into and immerse yourself in secrets of history, of life, of family and of love.

 

if you are looking for escapist reads that take you away, where it may not all be rosy but at least some people get their comeuppance and others get their happily ever afters then you need to buy this series of books.

 

The Little French Guesthouse in question is La Cour des Roses and Emmy is still working there, with the wonderful Rupert who has become a firm friends since circumstances brought them together in the first ‘French Guesthouse’ book.

They are as busy as every and Emmy is settling very much into village life…….drip the sunshine into the pages and the rolling hillsides, even the delicious food prepared in the guesthouse has you salivating as you can almost taste the chilled white wine, easing away your troubles.

Links to my reviews of these select books can be found below.

Cathy Bramley – A Vintage Summer

Liz Fenwick – A Path to the Sea 

Sarah Bennett – Sunshine over Bluebell Castle

Helen Pollard – Summer at the Little French Guesthouse

This was a mere random selection – I hope perhaps you find something new to read or you have found the odd post that you have not read before on this blog.

Plenty of books to look forward to in the coming days, July 23rd seems to be the most popular publishing day in recent months.

I am hoping to get back to looking at 2013 on my blog in a round up post at some point, because before I know it it will be December and that will be another thing not achieved this year!

So plenty to keep me busy. What has been keeping you busy?