Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2021

So I am probably one of the last people with a book blog to actually witter on about what my favourite books were last year and it seems to have taken me an age to get to this point where I have put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard to consolidate the reading of 2021.

Some facts and figures for those geeks that like that sort of thing!

The Shortest Book was Katie Fforde – Saving the Day at 92 pages

The Longest Book was Kate Quinn – The Rose Code at 624 pages

I read 109 books which was 31,042 pages!

87 were on my Kindle – that is rather shocking when I think of the amount of books on my shelves. I solely blame netgalley which feeds this habit, but I have had the opportunity to read so many wonderful stories because of it and discover new authors that I can perhaps only be a little bit cross with myself!

It is quite clear I come back to the same authors time and time again, for comfort but also because you know you are going to get a cracking good read! So again, I look back on those I have read more than 1 of and this year it seems that 3 is the magic number!

Multiple Books by the same Author

I have marked in bold those who fell into the same category last year too.

3 Books: Christie Barlow, Sarah Bennett, Helena Dixon, Holly Martin, Cressida McLaughlin, Tracy Rees.

2 Books: Merryn Allingham, Phillipa Ashley, Cathy Bramley, Alex Brown, Rachel Burton, Julie Caplin, Liz Eeles, Katie Fforde, Kate Forster, Katie Ginger, Cathy Lake, Shelia Norton, Gervase Phinn, Nancy Revell, Helen Rolfe, Heidi Swain.

Of course all of these colourful covers just make reading even more joyful as to the story insdie.

I read no Agatha Christie! I could have sworn I had, but that probably shows you how much the stories stay with you, or I have watched far too many on the TV! Perhaps this year I will read more. Then again, I have no plans for this blog which is probably why it has taken so long to write this round up post for last year!

I don’t think I have a favourite book, there are too many I read that I enjoy and I just simply love reading. But these are the standout books for that are not featured above just in case you want some more to add to your list.

This is a powerful and emotional book and I was caught out by one particular plot thread, so swept away was I with the story and the characters, it felt that I was suffering my own loss. The comfort was the familiarity of books, the comfort that they can give and the way they help and heal. The message which this debut novel has conveyed with sensitivity, across cultures, across ages and across book shelves.

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.

I adored this book, it reminds me of my great love of historical fiction and was an part of history which I knew little about and also even less about the great Champagne houses. How wonderful to discover that a woman was behind one of the greatest much to the chagrin of most. Historical fiction is of course just that but what it does and this book does it in abundance is open your eyes and the world up to reading much more about these fabulous women who have shaped history, who have made an impact and should be recognised much more. It reminded me why I love history. 

I did wonder where and how this book was going to culminate and I was so intrigued by the characters that were created. I was completely surprised by the fact that whilst this story was fiction – every person and experience was based on real people and real events. The information and research given at the end of the book is fascinating and brought more to the story than if it had been pure fiction.

This is a long novel but so worth it, to get so involved with everything, whether it be the light hearted moments, or the thrill of the chase when it came to cracking a code or experiencing life as a debutante in war torn London. 

A real thoughtful book which concentrates on the simplicity of family and friendship, with some difficult moments that leaving you thinking, even if it seems that all works out alright on the surface.

I feel I have been all over the world with Lucina Riley and the Seven Sister series and I have learnt so much from all of the places I have been. The fact that real life events, real people are simply weaved into the fictional tale is a testament to the skill of Riley’s writing and means that for me she is without a doubt one of my most favourite authors.

Sadly the world lost Lucinda Riley in 2021, a great loss and I am thrilled but saddened in equal measure that I still have some of books left to read on my shelf. It will be with poignancy when I do get round to reading these.

So that is the flavour of 2021. I hope you will excuse the time it has taken me to get to this post. And I once again I thank all my blog readers who stop by and read, comment or simply like a post. I feel over the last few years, the book blogging world has changed, but this for me has always been about my little place, my little jotter where I share what I love.

Who knows where this blog will go in 2022, but so far the books and the reading continue.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It has been a while since we have had any notices around this parish, time is speeding by and I try and spend as much of it doing all the things I enjoy. But I never get round to sharing them with people. If you follow my on Instagram then you will see me post my weekly picture of what has been a reflection of my week. So if you want some more regular idea of what I have been up to then that is the place to go. One day I think I will have the time to witter on about it all on my blog….one day….

However I am dropping into to tell you all about the Christmas reading that has already been going on around this parts.

I am part of a blog tour for Tracy Rees – The Little Christmas House

Come back on the 27th October to find out what happens behind the doors in The Little Christmas House.

What about spending Christmas in a Castle and with Trisha Ashley. One of the best ways to spend Christmas

………Pure Christmas escapism with plenty of mulled wine and mince pies to keep you full up at any time of the year.

The perfect book for Christmas and one that is worthy of a reread for many Christmases to come!

Or of course you could take a trip to Jewel Island if you should fancy.

...Everything you would expect from a Christmas market too! Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate, Snow, Churros and a visit from Santa. What more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

You could choose to discover Mermaids Point in this novella which introduces you to the characters in festive spirit and that means you will need to go back and catch up on their stories.

This little novella, is like a Christmas Present from Sarah Bennett for fans of all her books, but most importantly if you have fallen in love with Mermaids Point and everyone that lives there.

Visting a unique place for a Christmas outing is sometimes a change so why not visit Fox Farm

To see the wonderful art work, to eat delicious cakes and hot chocolate whilst watching the children get excited about Christmas seems like the perfect place to spend some time. What better book to bring out the true Christmas spirit with a lovely romance added in.

Every home needs a Christmas Tree no matter how large or small.

If you are looking for a Christmas read to curl up in front of a log fire, the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, a hot chocolate full of calories then this is the book for you.

There is more to come and I am excited about escaping (hopefully!) in some of these.

I must get on as these books won’t read themselves.

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!

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!

Books · Witterings

Parish Notices

Gosh what a tumultuous few days. I have gone from Tier 2 to 3 to 4 in the space of about 72 hours. I was bogged down by the news yesterday and admit it got to me. I am now making a concerted effort to not get all consumed.

I came across these two little fun memes on some of the blogs I read so thought it would make a good diversion for a while. Links will take you to the reviews where there are some.

 

Describe yourself: Emylia Hall – A Heart Bent out of Shape

How do you feel: Sandi Toksvig – Between the Stops

Describe where you currently live: Helen Rolfe – The Little Cottage in Lantern Square

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Julie Caplin – The Little Teashop in Tokyo

Your favourite form of transportation: Raynor Winn – The Salt Path

Your best friend is: Amanda Owen – The Yorkshire Shepherdess

You and your friends are: Lucy Foley – The Guest List

What’s the weather like: Carole Matthews – Sunny Days and Sea Breezes

You fear: Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile

What is the best advice you have to give: Lissa Evans – V for Victory

Thought for the day: Bella Osborne – One Family Christmas

My soul’s present condition: Ann Cleeves – The Darkest Evening

 

Using only books you have read this year (2020), answer these prompts.

 

In high school I was Robin Stevens – Jolly Foul Play

People might be surprised by Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut

I will never be Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit

My life in lockdown was like Brenda Davies – The Girl Behind the Gates

My fantasy job is Emma Burstall – A Cornish Secret

At the end of a long day I need Tilly Tennant – Cathy’s Christmas Kitchen

I hate being Jenny Colgan – Five Hundred Miles From You

Wish I had Katie Fforde – A Rose Petal Summer

My family reunions are Helena Dixon – Murder on the Dance Floor

At a party you’d find me with Joanna Rees – The Hidden Wife

I’ve never been to Christie Barlow – Clover Cottage 

A happy day includes Trisha Ashley – The Garden of Forgotten Wishes

Motto I live by Lisa Swift – The School of Starting Over 

On my bucket list is Hazel Prior – Away with the Penguins

In my next life, I want to have Phillipa Ashley – A Surprise Christmas Wedding

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 · Witterings

September Roundup

And out blows September. Here in the UK, the weather has definitely taken an autumnal turn and cardigans, socks and warm blankets are a must as we move into October. Though I think the reading has taken a seasonal leap and I am into Christmas already. The world has been so upside down in 2020 that I don’t think it matters at all.

It started for me this year with Rachel Burton – The Tea Room on the Bay which whilst being set in Winter and at Christmas had a real sunny feel about it and was wonderfully cheering when perhaps what was goign on with me wasn’t – the perfect antidote.

Emma Davies – A Year at Appleyard Farm, originally four separate novellas covering a whole year does of course mention Christmas, so perhaps should be the first book considered for Christmas reading but the book felt much more than that and was almost the perfect book for the changing of seasons. No matter what is going on the seasons are continuing to change.

Seasons are of course important if you are a gardener and very important to Heidi Swain – The Winter Garden. Back to Nightingale Square and it’s residents and the gorgeous garden being created to aspire and bring joy in the dark winter months. For someone who has not ready access to a garden this was an absolute joy to read.

Now of course I do have access to a kitchen and on many occasion it does take on the smell of baking but no where near the amount in Tilly Tennant – Cathy’s Christmas Kitchen. There is something comforting about baking and reading and this books combines both with a joyous outcome.

Of course Christmas is a lot of the time about family and never more so than the latest novel Bella Osborne – One Family Christmas, this could be your ultimate nightmare, all family stuck together at Christmas or it could be the best thing ever. Whatever your choice, the book is bound to make you smile.

Even though it has no Christmas theme, Ann Cleeves – The Darkest Evening did have a lot of snow in it. This is the latest Vera novel and I really must get round to reading more of them as they are great detective stories and you can see Brenda Blethyn jump of the page as you read them. I will be interested to see if they make this particular story into a TV adaptation.

Agatha Christie – The Seven Dials Mystery perhaps not the most well known of Christie’s novels and was certainly interesting and it mentions characters met in previous novels which made for a different sort of novel. Trouble is you can get used to Marple and Poirot and when it changes it can be a bit of a shock! At least it is another one off my list.

Salvador Dali was out to shock and whilst I knew the name and very little about his work, I learnt a lot more when I picked up Jeremy Vine – The Diver and the Lover. Sadly the plot which weaved the fiction into the truth was not that great and it did disappoint me. I wanted to like it more but I couldn’t. I do enjoy historical fiction but this did rather leave me wanting.

So that was September and the reading continues apace which in a world full of uncertainty, I can at least escape into a book or two!

I wonder where October will take me?

 

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?

Books · Witterings

Parish Notices

 

How is it going in your part of the world? Here in the UK, we wait until 1900 this evening when Boris Johnson, Prime Minister sets out the next phase for us as a country. The speculation is beginning to wear a bit thin and I think that the ‘people’ are getting a bit restless without guidance and instruction. Until then though I thought I might let you know about some bits and pieces.

I am part of the Phillipa Ashley Blog Tour in June for her new novel A Perfect Cornish Escape.

Summer in Cornwall is the perfect time for a fresh start…

Seven years ago, Marina Hudson’s husband was lost at sea. She vowed to love him for the rest of her life – but when kind-hearted Lachlan arrives in Porthmellow, should she deny herself another chance at happiness?

Tiff Trescott was living life to the full as a journalist in London – until her boyfriend’s betrayal brought it all crashing down. Fleeing to her cousin Marina’s cottage, Tiff feels like a fish-out-of-water. And when brooding local Dirk wins a day with her in a charity auction, she’s thrown headfirst into Cornish life.

This summer promises new beginnings for both Tiff and Marina. But are they too good to be true?

Pop back on the 15th June (if not before) and see my review.

Another book I need to tell you about it is the new novel from Holly Martin coming in the Autumn funnily enough and we will be taken back to the place and the characters first featured in Sunrise over Sapphire Bay

I am desperately missing the gym and especially swimming and it has been a real struggle this last week to manage everyday stuff including work without that outlet. So when I have not been reading and crafting, it has been jigsaws that have occupied my time.

I love seeing them come together. So here is a few over the last few weeks, the small 500 piece ones take me no more than a day. I am not sure whether that is the size or the picture that make them seemingly easy!

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There are a few more waiting to be done so I am good to go for a few more weeks yet.

What has been happening in your parish? How is the reading? Have you got to jigsaws yet?