Books · Witterings

November Roundup

You know that feeling when the end is in sight but you just can’t get there. I thought I might be able to reach the 100 I set myself as I did last year in November, but I am still a couple of books to go. I may well have done it, but reading seems to have taken a bit of a slump despite some cracking good books read in the month.

Christmas reading continued apace with Liz Eeles – A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle. The final part of this trilogy saw Christmas full of hot coffee and mince pies. Delicious.

Then it was a return to the Doctors with Penny Parkes – Snowed in at The Practice, this series of books is a joy to read and they really go into some interesting depth about the survival of GP practices and what affects the medical profession countrywide.

There is nothing like one of the worst periods of history to bring you back down with a bump and a reality check from all the lovely warm Christmas wishes. There is certainly no warmth in the setting of Lily Graham – The Child of Auschwitz. However the author deals with such a moving piece of history well and with such thoughtfulness that I was immediately drawn into the story, the characters and the outcome.

More history, even further back with Julian Fellowes – Belgravia. On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo events change the shape of two families lives forever. Think Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and add in the fact that it is to be on the TV in the new year and you have yourself a real Sunday Night Drama. The book was an interesting read of class, of status, money and love.

Another book full of love was Sara Cox – Till the Cows Come Home. I admit to being a bit of a fan girl with Sara Cox. I enjoyed her standing in for the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 and I am delighted to catch her on the Drivetime show now. Her book is a love letter to her family and to how she was brought up and the experiences that have clearly shaped her and made her into the chatterbox of delights. I would love to listen to the audio book of this.

And finally a bit of cosy murder mystery, in what has been a mix of reading themes this month. Helena Dixon – Murder at the Dolphin Hotel, set in Devon after the First World War, you could almost Poirot to appear or Miss Marple as the body count rises and the red herrings are aplenty. I look forward to more from this author.

So that was November – and the trouble I am having at the moment is choosing the next book to read. I have some on my shelf waiting to be read and I am waiting until I get the time off work (only 3 weeks left to go) to really get stuck into the god stuff.

In the meantime I end November reading a book that I want to know the secrets behind two of the main characters but I am a bit loathe to be reading the rest of it to get there. I should quit but I am ultimately nosey and so need to know! And now probably you all want to know the book too!

On with December…..

Books · Jottings · Witterings

September Roundup

September can always feel like a new year for me, when you have an enforced break from work as I do, it feels all ‘back to school’ somehow. Anyhow, as I get used to waking up in the dark, swimming in the dark and those darker nights setting in, the reading continues apace.

I was never going to beat my wonderful record in August, not that I had time too but Setpember has turned out to be the month of the kindle reading. Despite me actually starting and reading a physical book.

I having been trying to get through a backlog of books and when I get a bit request happy on netgalley they can build up. So I decided to jump in with Gill Paul – Another Woman’s Husband a book I have had for a while and one that I thought sound intriguing and interesting. The Princess Diana storyline did not sit quite right with me but the story of Mrs Wallis Simpson drew me right in and again reminded me of the power of historical fiction.

I had Cath Staincliffe – Ruthless for so long on the to read shelf, that it could almost be called historical fiction. The wonderful Scott and Bailey from the ITV series are brought to life here in one of three novels. I love Cath Staincliffe’s writing there is something so honest and unfussy about it all, the plot was great and had me more hooked that the tv programme.

What also had me hooked this month was Joanna Nell – The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker which I describe as a thoughtful and poignant book. Some might find it a difficult read and in places it was but I think it needed to be as we look with Mrs Henry Parker for the man Henry himself.

The Christmas reading obviously continues and by the time it comes round I will probably be all Christmas read out and want something completely opposite. (I have plans for that point) So where to start?

With an invitation of course! Trisha Ashley – The Christmas Invitation latest novel is one of sheer joy and it would not be Christmas without a novel from Trisha. No pressure! The books takes you to the depths of places Trisha has been before and you get to experience Christmas – full on!

Christmas is not easy for everyone and in Tilly Tennant – The Garden on Sparrow Street I would say that Nina is struggling to find ehr new future. A great start to Christmas reading as this book will ease you in gently.

As did Katie Ginger – Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage which was the first book I have read by this author. It took a while to get going but when it did, I was drawn into the cottage and it was great to see how the fallout of one particular event unfolded. I will certainly go back and look out her other novels.

If you want to go full on Christmas then go to Holly Martin – The Gift of Happiness a return to the wonderful village of happiness which embraces Christmas wholeheartedly even if the Christmas lights are bit suspect! I love Holly’s books they are so heartwarming that it feels like a great big hug.

As for Emma Davies – The Little Shop on Silver Linings Street she is also someone who can take you away in the pages of their book with such wonderful stories that you wonder where they all come from. It all works so beautifully and it was great to be able to relate to characters from previous novels too.

Enough about Christmas – it is only September…well October now. I know there is more Christmas to come and that is without even discussing it for work. But I must try and make a dent again in the physical books I have on the shelf just to perhaps dilute all the tinsel and snow.

Happy October readers.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

July Roundup

Another hot month and the reading has gone at two speeds  – fast and interminably slow! I blame the heat and nothing else.

Just because it is hot at home doesn’t mean it cannot be hot elsewhere on my reading travels. Which is why I was whisked away with Julie Caplin – The Secret Cove in Croatia – like reading a fictional holiday brochure! Utter bliss.

Of course I could stay at home and so I did with the latest Sarah Bennett – Sunshine over Bluebell Castle, the next in the trilogy and I spent many a happy hour vicariously gardening with Iggy and the gorgeous Will.

With all the heat what a better place to be than in the water – Libby Page – The Lido. The book has been on my radar for a while and it is the most delightful book I have read in a longtime, so touching and so gentle it deserves a second read and I need to get to my local lido!

Of course if you can’t go abroad or in a castle and you have no pool near you what about Emma Davies – The Beekeeper’s Cottage a place to relax and watch the bees do what they do best whilst the flowers of the farm next door, wave their stems in the wind releasing a scent that wafts off the page.

All of these are great summer reads, but actually will warm the coldest of days too!

Summer would not be summer without at wedding or two, and I have only one to experience as I catch up with Rachel Dove‘s work– The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street  another place in the fictional little town of Westfield.

Looking back on the previous six months of reading with my little exclusive meme Six in Six made me realise that I have read very little crime, easily sorted in July it seems.

Trying to work my way through some more Christie means I have picked up Agatha Christie – The Secret Adversary a Tommy and Tuppence novel which was featured in the Read Christie 2019 to be found on the official website. I do enjoy a gentle stroll back to some crime fiction of past ages.

I went even further back with Georgina Clarke – The Corpse Played Dead who has given us another tail of Lizzie Hardwicke, a lady of a certain occupation helping the magistrates and the Bow Street Runners – certainly know doing things ‘by the book’ in this novel.

Three years in the waiting meant I was thrilled to be back with Kate Saunders – Laetitia Rodd and the Case of the Wandering Scholar. Another historical crime novel, featuring a strong female lead and this time I was taken into the depths of missing men, affairs, murders and romance.

I finish July, reading another gothic novel, which I think is supposed to frighten me but as of yet has simply kept me reading with no nasty side effects.

August brings holiday and even more time for reading – I simply cannot wait.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

So what have I got to tell you about?

Well first of all if any of you enjoy Cathy Bramley’s novels then go and get this little short story –

Set in the Second World War it reveals a bit about the past where her next serial novel A Patchwork family is going to be set. There is a sneak preview of the book (August 2019 for publication)- but I cannot bring myself to read it – especially when I would have to wait – but I am going to also almost torture myself and wait until it is published as a whole later on in the year.

On and the book is free here but you will need a kindle reading app.

In the meantime I do have an unread Cathy Bramley to fill the time in before November.

This week just gone saw an author whose books I devoured last year – Emma Davies – publish her latest

This is a joyful heartwarming novel which kept my interest all the way through. So much so that I wanted to know more once I had finished and will now have to wait for the next novel.

You can read my full review here.

Now I need to tell you about Death and the Harlot. This is a new book, not some salacious headline about me and my life!

I am part of the blog tour coming up this week

Come back on the 17th (this Friday) to see an extract of the book. In the meantime you can catch my review which was just recently published here.

How is it in your parish? Anything to share?

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 · 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!