Books · Witterings

February Roundup

I want to say an extra day has given me an extra days worth of reading but I feel that probably is not the case, I am on target for my 100 for the year but who can possibly be thinking about when we have only completed two months of the year.

All but one of the book was on kindle, and that makes me glad and grumpy in equal measure. I delight in holding the actual book but with so many opportunities to read great books, the kindle was heavily used in February.

Having only read The Hunting Party back at the beginning of the year, I was intrigued to get Lucy Foley – The Guest List. A great twisting turn of a novel which kept me guessing or did I really know but not want to admit it? Read it see if you think the same?

There was more murder with Daisy Waugh – In the Crypt with a Candlestick, not an author I have read before and one I probably would be reluctant to pick up again. This was very tongue in cheek but lost something in the aim of the book. I am afraid I was swayed by the cover, judged and was wrong.

And even more murder with Helena Dixon – Murder at Enderley Hall, the second in a series of novels, set in the 1930s and featuring the wonderful Kitty Underhay and ex Army Captain Matthew Bryant. This time they are in the big country house and that can only mean one thing – murder!

Staying in the past I was delighted to be back with Nancy Revell – Triumph of the Shipyard Girls. This saga gets better and better as the book goes on and I am delighted it continues apace.

Learning about the past is a wonderful pastime and one I thoroughly enjoy in many forms. No more so that picking up Sandi Toksvig – Between the Stops. Sandi has not written your average autobiography, but then she is not your average women really. This is Sandi on a journey, on a bus through London on the way she tells us about her surroundings, the buildings, the roads, the famous people and it jogs ehr memory to what has happened to her in her past. Whether that be with her mother and father and the places she was luckily to travel, to her schooldays, early days of celebrity and more recent experiences. It is a great book to dip in and out of.

Talking about taking journey’s there is one place I really want to visit (though it is not a real place) and that is Heartcross in Scotland. It was great to be back there with Christie Barlow – Clover Cottage. Here we join the local vet Rory and his girlfriend Allie who are struggling with the concept of escaping the little village and finding an adventure. Sometimes adventures can be had at home. But is that enough?

Cottages unintentionally started to be a theme in February when I was off to visit Kate Forster – Starting over at Acorn Cottage. A dream of Clara’s to live in a cottage because a nightmare when reality bites and she finds herself in a rundown cottage with no roof, no job and no prospects. But events can take an unexpected turn.

More run down properties in Lisa Swift – The School of Starting Over mean that new resident Nell has a lot to contend with if she wishes to settle into the village. Being the new reception class teacher will help but what else is distracting Nell as she makes the home of her dreams?

Fulfilling people’s dreams seems the obvious job description for a wedding planner, but Lara is not the perfect contender for that in Tilly Tennant – The Break Up. Determined to not let her personal life affect her job she throws herself wholeheartedly into weddings and looking after her cat. But then it seems someone else has been feeding the cat….

Not a bad month, it is only when I look back how I see that some of these books connect and follow different themes. I promise you it is not an intended course of action but a wonderful coincidence. It makes me wonder where my March reading is going to take me.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

This is the first Parish Notices of the year so it seems and I wanted to share some bits and pieces with you.

March seems like a long way off and my stop on this blog tour is in April but I wanted to let you know about the wonderful new book from Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise.

A sneak peek from my review

…this second novel is better than the first……. shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters…

A book that you may have seen in or out of the press is Libby Page – The 24 Hour Cafe. In a similar vein to her debut novel The Lido, this is a book to draw you in.

 

How often do you stop and wonder about those around you – what their story is and whether it is happier or more troubled than your own? Whether there are people looking at you thinking the same, just for 24 hours Libby Page gives us that insight and as you finish the book, you go back to your own life and carry on.

Another recommend is Tracy Rees – The House at Silvermoor. If you want something Catherine Cookson-esque in fact something even better than this is the book for you.

This book is packed full of wonderful passages and it’s pace at times might seem slower than other novels but then I think that is intended…

……There are many more scenes I could choose from to describe how wonderful the writing is but that would just spoil the book for you.

It is ten years this year since I first started the blog and there is a reflection post of that very first year and throughout this year I hope to revisit each of the years in turn. It has jogged my memory of books, authors and crafts I was doing and so I hope to return to some of these and perhaps share some early reviews as well.

So whilst my parish maybe wet and windy thanks to Storm Ciara Dennis I have books and crafts to keep my company. What is going on in your parish?

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

January Roundup

Boom and one month gone! My nan was right, time goes quicker the older you get.

But this month time has been spent reading more books that have been hanging around for a while.

I saw all the hype regarding Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party, the cover itself makes the books stand out and when I spotted her new crime novel available on netgalley I only thought it fair to read the first. A page turner that is well worth a read and I have to admit was probably worth a lot fo the hype as well! As for her second I end the month reading that and well it seems to be up there with the first!

January 2020 is the month we lost Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton and I therefore thought it as fitting to read one of the books which I had on my shelf for a while M.C.Beaton – Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride. A passable book which almost cleans your brain for whatever else is to come and what you have read before, they are a simply forumliac joy. My only wish is that they do not ship in a ghostwriter to carry on the oeuvre simply for making money.

Last year was the first time of reading anything by Caroline Roberts and I had did a bit of a binge with Caroline Roberts – The Cosy Teashop in the Castle followed straight away with Caroline Roberts – The Cosy Christmas Teashop. Both delightful reads and I think a first for me reading a Christmas themed book after the event and not before. I look forward to catching up with more from this author.

To balance it all out a bit I did read some of the wonderful new novels which I gain access to through netgalley. Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise, second novel is as good if not better than the first. A great historical dual time narrative set in the second world war which draws you in and keeps you in the wilds of Scotland.

Going further back to the turn of the century and mining takes me to Tracy Rees – The House at Silvermoor. This time we are taken to Yorkshire, mining villages, conflicts between families and the lies and mysteries that a seemingly empty house brings. One of the best books written by Tracy Rees with such fantastic attention to detail you could almost taste the coal being mined.

And finally across the oceans to Australia and the mid nineteen eighties. Sophie Green – The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle, showing the strength of friendship and community in a shared love. Swimming. It appealed to me because of my own love of swimming although the coast around Portsmouth has slightly cooler water than that of Australia!

So that was January 2020 – not a bad month really. A time to reflect and get back to some sort of order and resemblance which helps my mental health no end. Unfortunately the grey weather does not. More books full of sunshine needed.

How has your January been? What is bringing you colour?

 

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2010

This year marks 10 years in August since I started this blog and posting out into the unknown. And as it is a new decade as well, I thought it might be good to reflect back at the last ten years of posting and see how much has changed.

To be honest when I have gone back and looked at some of the posts I have wanted to cringe – did I really say that, did I share that nonsense? I did share a lot more about my crafts in the early posts, which I do not seem to now. Mainly I think because I no longer have a laptop and the only access for a computer (other than work) is when I visit my mum and dad – I have yet to master WordPress on my iPad successfully enough to warrant using it all the time. Perhaps I should endeavour to do more of that in 2020?

The first post I want to link back to is from August 2010 and funnily enough does feature some craft. These were also the days when I had a digital camera and photos were uploaded that way – then along come iPads and iPhones and it all seemed a bit more easier and less of a faff. So much has changed in 10 years.

These are some of the finished projects from that post –

As for the books I read in 2010 – an eclectic mix for sure. Not all of them were reviewed on this blog as I did not start it until three quarters of the way through the year – some of the reviews were originally on Amazon. That said I have looked back and randomly picked out two books (click on the book covers to be taken to the review)

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader.

This is the story of Julie Jacobs who upon the death of her Aunt, her guardian since her mother and father died in a tragic car accident, learns the truth about her name, her place in life, her background and her history. History which goes back to the 14th Century and involves a familiar story to Julie, in fact her favourite – William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and theories about where Shakespeare got his stories from and where they fit into today literature then this is the book for you.

So that is a look back from the posts of 2010 and if anything I have picked up a reminder of the lovely stitching designers I liked and have patterns of galore in my home. The books I read were very varied and I picked up an author I have not read anymore of since 2010 – Deanna Raybourn so I think I might have to rectify that and also share the reviews of the first three novels that I read.

I am going to look at 2011 next, so please pop back at some point over the coming weeks and months to see what I have rediscovered.

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2019

And with a blink if eye another year has passed (in fact a decade – more about that on another post) and it is time to reflect on what perhaps I have read this year…..

Numbers and statistics first!

107 books in total – 2 less than last year but still more than recent years. And there was no rush to the finish either.

Shortest book was 48 Pages

Longest book was 672 Pages

In total 35,554 pages read.

81 were on my kindle. In the main that is in fact due to my requests on netgalley which has enabled me to read a lot of lovely new books before they hit the shelves and I can share them with you all. However I find that sometimes that can be my undoing as when I ventured into my local bookshop, I looked round and thought ‘read that and that’. That said I am endeavouring to keep my list down on netgalley to a more manageable level and reading more off my shelves….well that’s the plan.

So what books have stood out for me in 2019? Everyone’s list is different, for different reasons and I think sometimes list envy kicks in when you think I have not read the books that everyone else is or has read. So my list is my list.

Mystery and Crime – When I got back to looking at the last ten years of reading, I realise that perhaps this genre has tailed off in recent years. My need for “happy” probably is my current state of mind. However I choose these books

Historical Fiction – now what do I choose to put in this category? Books about the past and ‘real’ people or books simply set in the past. Which some of the books in the previous category would happily fit into.

 

Multiple Books – in other words authors who I have read more than one of their oeuvre in 2019.

More statistics – 7 authors who I have read 3 books of are as follows Sarah Bennett, Agatha Christie, Emma Davies, Rachel Dove, Liz Eeles, Holly Martin, Robin Stevens. 

I will give a special mention to Agatha Christie – whose work is still confounding people even after all these years.  She cannot of course say anything back to me!

I will pick out another 3 who deserve special mentions

Sarah Bennett – 2019 was the year of Bluebell Castle and the best of her work so far, in my humble opinion. I am a great advocate of her work and witter on about it on here and twitter where we are tiwtter chums.

Holly Martin – her books need no introduction, apart from the fact if you want an absorbing read and pure escapism. Holly must be your go to author.

Robin Stevens – a new author to me and I stumbled across this delightful series of children’s books. They are pitched for 9-11 year olds but I think they are tremendous jolly fun. A cross between Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie and I just love the bright colours of the covers.

Of the authors who I have read 2 books of it is quite a list, Phillipa Ashley, Trisha Ashley, Christie Barlow, Julie Caplin, Georgina Clarke, Liz Fenwick, Rachael Lucas, Libby Page, Laura Purcell, Nancy Revell, Caroline Roberts, Helen Rolfe, Sara Sheridan, Heidi Swain and Tilly Tennant.

Who to choose of the 15….

Heidi Swain – one of the authors who I can rely on to cheer me from beginning of a book right up to the end. And despite many witterings on here I still have not read her first book The Cherry Tree Cafe.

 

Georgina Clarke – combining many things, strong women, crime and history. What more could someone like me who is a fan of such things want in a novel. A new author this year and one to watch!

 

Nancy Revell if there ever was a series that you wanted to run and run this is it. If you love historical saga then you will love The Shipyard Girls series.

Christie Barlow – the Love Heart Lane is another heartwarming series and I just want to move there! Which considering I also want to move to Bluebell Castle with Sarah Bennett and Wynbridge with Heidi Swain, it is going to be rather difficult.

And Finally.…mention must go to these

As I look back at this year, I then go back and look at the last decade of reading. But that is for another post because I am really not sure how I consolidate, categories, list or even talk about all those books.

In terms of this blog, I cannot believe it has been going for so long. Thank you to everyone who visits whether it is every week or only now and again.

In 2019 I posted 102 posts (50,731 words!), which looking back is about average. Gone are the heady days of 177 posts in 2012. I actively chose to stop reviewing every book I read as it was becoming too much to maintain and I suppose I have stepped away from posting anything other than ‘book’ posts in the recent years.

So let’s get on with the next year, the next decade and the next book!

Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It appears to have been a bit quiet round here lately, but I just wanted to pop in to say a festive hello and remind you of some festive reads which are out at the moment and perhaps some ones from the archive as well!

A Perfect Cornish Christmas – Phillipa Ashley

A moving read which eases you into your Christmas reading with great settings and great characters which capture your heart. A must for any fan of Ashley’s other works or discovering for the first time. A perfect read Christmas or not!

Starlight over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

An excellent Christmas read which captures so many wonderful elements of Christmas but the most important one – being with people you love and cherish. That is the best gift of all.

The Gift of Happiness – Holly Martin

Holly Martin’s novels are a joy to read. So heartwarming and like receiving a great big hug all through the power of a few words on paper. A Five Sparkly Christmas Star read!

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland – Heidi Swain

An excellent Christmas read and if your Christmas is normally wet, grey and miserable this is a sure-fire way of immersing yourself in a Christmas that can exist!

A Christmas Cracker – Trisha Ashley

You cannot beat a cracking good read and you cannot beat Trisha Ashley to deliver such a read. This latest Christmas novel has everything in it to while away a Christmas Afternoon on the sofa with copious amounts of tea and christmas cake snuggled right under a blanket as you absorb yourself in the story.

In other news I have also completed my challenge of 100 books with about 20 days to spare! So let us see what the final number will be by 31 December.

I will need to turn to my favourite books of the year soon but in the meantime on with more reading……

*I have received these books in exchange for an honest review and I receive nothing in payment for recommendation more than once on this blog or on any other social media channel I use. I simply pass on the books that have given me joy. 

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?