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!

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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……..

Books · Jottings

October Roundup

What a funny old month – the reading slowed down and then has sped up at a great speed due to illness and not being able to sleep! At this point I am grateful to my kindle, but not so grateful to whoever gave me an ear & chest infection along with laryngitis. It has been a quiet and deaf last few days of October.

Anyway, enough of my ailments – what about the books?

In a bid to make a dent in my own bookshelves I only managed to read Katie Fforde – A Secret Garden. A classic Katie Fforde and a perfect piece of escapism. There is something rather comforting relying on particular authors to transport you away, which is why I was eager to read Jenny Colgan – Island Christmas.

I stumble across this series of Colgan books by accident and devoured them all up and then had to wait to continue the wonderful story of the lives and characters of the fictitious island of Mure, based on an island in the Hebrides. If a book inspired you to go somewhere it was these books – in a busy and demanding world sometimes the thought of escape to recapture oneself is a dream.

I am also just discovering more of Milly Johnson’s work and so to take another book that has been languishing on my netgalley shelf this time I picked up Milly Johnson – The Perfectly Imperfect Woman. It had everything in a story that I like and made me keep coming back for more.

Trouble when you start a series of books and you are hooked, you do have to keep coming back for more, which is why I got hold of the last in the trilogy of Lavender Bay Sarah Bennett – Snowflakes at Lavender Bay. I know series have to end, but there are some of the characters I always want to go back and see again – that was this book.

Trying to lose some of what some people might call ‘fluffy’ reading I picked up Lesley Kara – The Rumour. I love rumours, what starts out as something innocent can snowball and gather pace until it bears no resemblance to the truth. But what if some rumours are actually pure simple truth? I say no more, but I think this a book that you are going to have to look out for when published at the end of the year.

Rumours is how many an Agatha Christie is solved, that innocent piece of gossip actually leads Poirot or Marple to the truth. In bid to make my way through her body of work and because I caught the adaptation on the television a while back I picked up Agatha Christie – After the Funeral. Some might think it bizarre to read after the watch, and for the majority I would agree. But when it comes to Dame A sometimes a little prior knowledge means that I approach the book as a challenge and see if I can see the clues.

Rumours and clues and then of course there is secrets. Moving away from women’s fiction, Lily Graham is branching out into dual time narrative historical fiction and she is winning the race. Lily Graham – The Paris Secret is a book which reminds you of the innocence of love during wartime and what some of the consequences could be. Fascinating.

Finally, I got to Joanna Nell – The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which is another book been hanging around the netgalley shelf. It is a lovely quiet read, that takes you all the way to Australia – I did not realise this until about two-thirds of the way through the book. (*rolls eyes*). I did not even pick it up from the language, but it tells the story of the women in a retirement village who are not quite yet ready to retire from living a life!

So that was October, and whilst I write this in November and having already finished one book I am hoping that the lurgy dispatches soon as much as I enjoy all the stories, I would like some actual sleep at night.

Books · Jottings

September Roundup

Normally I have to confess my September reading tails off mainly due to being back to work and feeling like I have overread when I have had so much time at home during August. But this year, 2018 seems to be a very different year. I am 12 books ahead in my challenge and read a respectable 9 in September and one of them was over 700 pages long!

I am fairly new to Milly Johnson books and there is a few to catch back up with, but Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner and her latest Milly Johnson – The Mother of all Christmases were both enjoyed in September, even if one of them had a slight Christmas feel! Unfortunately the ARC copy I had via netgalley was very badly formatted and it took a while to get going, but when I did I will say it was a lovely book to read.

Talking of Christmas I completed two series of books with Karen Clarke – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove. Reading quite a lot of authors who are of a similar vein, some are more stronger than others and I have to say this series was not quite so good and I think I will certainly think twice about embarking on another read from her, not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the writing, but I know there are other books out there which are much stronger and also lots of books I have to read as well!

I don’t think I will venture far away from Holly Martin – Coming Home to Maple Cottage all of her novels have been a delight so warm and funny, I just have to keep reading. Christmas is the perfect time for a family to come together.

I only discovered Emma Davies this year and when I say she was writing a series of books around one place, I thought I would give them a go – what turned into a read to save for my holidays got absolutely devoured long before I had even sailed away on my cruise. Which is why I was there on day of publication for Emma Davies – Return to The Little Cottage on the Hill. Bringing to life the life of a blacksmith as well as the well cooked food and the people of Joy’s Acre. I have just preordered the next one!

Without netgalley I know I would not have been able to try half the books I have read and that is where I stumble across many an author and which is why then they have a new book I always like to go and see what it is all about which is why I found myself with Jennifer Joyce – The Single Mums’ Picnic Club. I am always in two minds about reading books featuring babies, mums etc as having had or been neither I do wonder if it will be as enthralling as they maybe to mothers? Only they can answer that question I suppose but this was a great book to show how friendships can be formed with different women with different backgrounds with the commonality of being a mum.

Food is a great way to draw people together and many books feature the joy of food cooking, catching, growing, eating, preparing and when you mention patissiere you can imagine the glorious feeling of biting into a fresh chocolate eclair and the cream just oozing out! Therefore reading Julie Caplin – The Little Paris Patisserie was like this without the calories. The story for me was weaker than her previous two novels in this series, but it made me want to break a choux pastry recipe and do them for myself.

A lot of the books I have read in September have been modern, contemporary novels and whilst Tracy Rees – Darling Blue is a modern author who manages to write historical fiction that just about manages to fit in that genre as her books change with each story and fit in nothing but the Tracy Rees box. Tracy wrote me a lovely message after the review of her latest was published here on this blog

It’s always nice to hear positive things about my books and especially so when I feel the reader really got it! I love how you said about each book being different and not fitting into the genre box. That’s something that’s really important to me, to keep doing something different and try for variety even within the loose category of ‘historical fiction. It’s not playing safe but it keeps me interested and hopefully gives each book its own life.

It always crosses my mind that if an author reads my review they may not like it. Of course not every book is for every person even if you have read from the author before. But so far for me Tracy Rees has delivered.

Of course fans of this blog (if there are any out there) should know I am a fna of Lucinda Riley and for me her books continue to deliver book after book.

Having finished The Pearl Sister back in August when Lucinda Riley – The Moon Sister landed on the mat, I had two options – place it reverently by the bed, thinking oh how wonderful I have this to read and I get to experience the story of The Seven Sisters or dive straight in and indulge in whatever story comes away from the page. reader I did the latter and so glad I did. The review is to follow as I want the book to settle in my mind, for the vibrations to continue that bit longer as I try to consolidate how I really feel about this story. One thing is for sure, each one is my favourite and I cannot distinguish between the first five.

So a pretty good September, but I know for October I want to get an inroad into my actual teetering pile of books I have around my home. The kindle and netgalley is a wonderful thing but I feel I need to hold onto some actual books for a while.

Happy Reading in October.

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

August Roundup

What a month August has been – I have been away on my first cruise to Norway and had a lovely three week break from work and of course read some wonderful (and not so) books.

So where to start – with the not so books I think.

Kim Barnes – In the Kingdom of Men has been sat on my shelf for a very long time and I decided in a bid to read some on my shelf to pick this one up. Set in the lates 1960s, around the oil industry between America and the Arabs it was a very claustrophobic novel which really did not come to much until the last thirty pages or so of the book. I have read it and passed it on. Someone else might get more from it than me.

When I picked the latest Nicky Pellegrino – A Year at Hotel Gondola I knew what I was expecting to get, sadly I was disappointed with the strnegth of character but I was transported away to Italy and Venice, so there was some good to be had.

Carol Wyer – Take a Chance on Me was another book that had been sitting on my netgalley shelf for a long time and I thought again it was about time I made room on their too! A book that you could read when you needed something that did not hold your attention, I have read better.

I took a chance on Lesley Eames – The Silver Ladies of London when I spotted it. A lovely historical saga with four female protagonists with different backgrounds finding themselves in London, no where to live, no job and only a Roll Royce. What more could a girl want in the 1920s. A great saga and I will look out for more by this author.

Sometimes when you are reading, all you want to go back to is what you know and love which is why I have picked up authors I know I am going to get a great story from.

I am keeping up with this series, thanks in part to netgalley but also because I am so involved with the characters which is why I couldn’t wait to read Nancy Revell – Victory for the Shipyard Girls – when it appeared on netgalley. Forget soap operas – this series is much better.

I am lucky to get access to current releases early thanks to netgalley and some I read straight away and some I hold to and read at another time – don’t ask me what the logic is I don’t know myself. Anyway I caught up with last years Christie Barlow release and thought let’s just dive into this years so I did with Christie Barlow – A Home at Honeysuckle Farm which takes you from New York to a small village from losing your dreams to finding them again. And this is a book to get you in the mood for the upcoming series of Strictly!

Julie Caplin – The Little Brooklyn Bakery – last time I went to Copenhagen this time it is Brooklyn. THat is the beauty of reading it can transport you anywhere! This is the second in the series of books and I thik much better than the first. I have the third to read and I cannot wait to be transported away again.

Binge is very much a word of recent times – Binge Eating and Binge Watching spring to mind – then there is Binge Reading. I know I probably don’t really qualify for the amateurs even when it comes to Binge Reading, but when I discover an author and a particular story I am sometimes hooked that I have to read the next one in the series. Which is why I was going to take Emma Davies – The Little Cottage on the Hill on holiday with me but then I started reading it and was hooked so went straight into Emma Davies – Summer at The Little Cottage on the Hill before I had even thought about packing! I have just downloaded the third in the series and preordered the fourth!

Looking at my lists, it seems that I only have one Heidi Swain to catch up on, which oddly enough is her first novel. I will get to that I promise but in the meantime I could not help delving into Heidi Swain – Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square which moves away (but close) to the lovely Wynbridge and all its characters. But no fear I was back there in her Christmas (yes I said the word) Heidi Swain – Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland though you will have to wait a while for the review for this one!

And finally I come to Lucinda Riley – The Pearl Sister. You could say I have saved the best for last and whilst that is partly true it is more to do with the fact that I have had this book for a year and it is by my bed sat being unread – it is almost as if I do read it the magic of the anticipation of the novel goes away. How daft, thinks me so I got on and read it in August – it is a mighty tome to read and not very conducive to lying down in bed but easy enough for sitting in the shade while the heat was baring down. It is everything I anticipated and more and now having the next one in the series, I am not making the same mistake – I started it straight away when it arrived.

So that was my August, some mighty fine reading and I am motoring through books, not sure why but there you go. Too hot perhaps to do anything else these last two months.

So as we turn to Autumn I feel the Christmas reads will be on me soon and I will be dreaming about the days of Summer and all the lovely places I have been.

How was your August? What are you looking forward to in September?

 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As with the weather my reading has continued to heat up and with not being able to knit and nothing on the television I have been motoring along.

I gave up with one book because it was not working as I knew I had plenty more to be reading, especially to make a dent in my netgalley shelf.

It has been a month of catching up with favourite authors and interesting characters and returning to lovely places.

The first book finished in July was Jenny Colgan – Endless Beach which carried on a story which I started in June and I get to go back there towards the end of the year when the next part is out. I am fairly new to Colgan’s work but loving the stories.

Cornwall is a big draw for many people and many authors to set their books. I went back to the Scilly Isles with Phillipa Ashley – Summer on the Little Cornish Isles and completed the tale. I rediscovered characters from a while back when I was with Ali McNamara – Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van.

As summer holidays start around the country it is always lovely to escape into reading and getting some sunshine in Holly Martin – The Cottage on Sunshine Beach or perhaps smelling the lavender that is billowing in the fields in Sarah Bennett – Summer at Lavender Bay. Although these books are of a similar ilk which I do not deny, they are such joyus books to read and provide laughter, tears and pure escapism.

A canal boat holiday is something that I have never partook in but has always intrigued me and I had Christie Barlow – The Cosy Canal Boat Dream sitting waiting to be read for over a year. What a great story which had so much, canal boats, cinemas and cake!

Of course you can’t beat a summer wedding and in Jennifer Joyce – The Wedding that changed Everything the wedding is a week long in a castle! With treasure hunts, quizzes and cocktails what more could you ask, but when families get together tensions run high.

Adding something different into the mix, meant I picked up Rachel Brimble – The Mistress of Pennington’s set in the Edwardian times, it reminded me of one of those sunday night tv dramas brought to life on the page. I have read better and it was a bit long and drawn out but could have been much stronger.

Another book which did not quite live up to what I was expecting was Cathy Hopkins – Dancing over the Hill, the previous novel I had read was good – this did not really live up to it and I felt quite flat by the end of it, perhaps because I could not relate to some of the plot?

I definitely could not relate to Poppy Dolan – Confessions of a First Time Mum, but no matter as this was laugh out loud funny and written so well there was something for everyone, mum or otherwise in the book.

I am wanting to work my way through the works of the great Agatha Christie and spurred on my recent repeats of Poirot on ITV3 I started Agatha Christie – The Clocks. Poirot comes late into the story as opposed to the TV adaptation but nonetheless I think was a well written book which had the red herrings and got the little grey cells working. Another one off the list.

Finally for this month I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in Six in Six. If you have and not let me know then please leave a link so I can make sure you are mentioned in the round up post which will feature soon.

On with more reading….how was your July?

Books · Jottings

Six in Six – 2018 My Choices

 

I thought it was about time I got round to posting my own Six in Six. If you have not joined in yet then there is still a few more days left of July for you to participate. Just follow the link above to find out what it is all about.

  • Six book covers I liked

 

  • Six physical books I have read
  1. Robert Galbraith – Career of Evil
  2. Ruth Jones – Never Greener
  3. Mary Ann Shaffer – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  4. Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  5. A.J. Pearce – Dear Mrs Bird
  6. Katharine McMahon – The Woman in the Picture
  • Six authors I have read before and know I am going to get a really good read!
  1. Trisha Ashley
  2. Cathy Bramley
  3. Emma Burstall 
  4. Sarah Bennett 
  5. Fern Britton
  6. Veronica Henry
  • Six books I have enjoyed the most
  1. Trisha Ashley – The House of Hopes and Dreams
  2. Heidi Swain – Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage
  3. Cathy Bramley – Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery
  4. Hazel Gaynor – A Memory of Violets
  5. A.J. Pearce – Dear Mrs Bird
  6. Jenny Colgan – The Summer Seaside Kitchen
  • Six books I was disappointed with
  1. Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
  2. Monica McInerney – The Trip of a Lifetime
  3. Rosie Meddon – The Housekeeper’s Daughter
  4. Sophie Green – The Inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club
  5. Lynne Truss – A Shot in the Dark
  6. Jill Steeples – Wedding Bells at The Dog and Duck
  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year
  1. Lucinda Riley
  2. Katie Fforde
  3. Rosie Goodwin
  4. Cressida McLaughlin
  5. Judith Kinghorn
  6. Kate Williams

I actually found this years quite tough – looking back I have been swept into many stories, but some critics may say that the books were all much of a muchness – all the same. Maybe so but do you know – I have thoroughly enjoyed all I have read and been honest with the ones that I haven’t enjoyed and actually given up on a couple as well. In terms of my reading, I call that progress.

Here is to the next 6 months which no doubt will have some more of the same and quite a lot new too!