Books

Books in 2017

So I did it – 100 books. Looking back over the previous years of this challenge on GoodReads I have been reading fewer books, as I have to confess that I sort of only just made it to 100 books in 2017 – I was still reading my 100th book as the clock struck 12 and the calendar went back to 1. So I have stretched the rules and snuck it into the 2017 list!

But with all reading and list keeping, it is all about what YOU want and not to be judged by anyone else!

GoodReads do a wonderful thing and you can look back at your year with some good old-fashioned statistics and all the lovely book covers – the statistics first:

The shortest book was 35 pages.

The longest book was  665 pages.

A total of 31,215 pages! I cannot possibly imagine how many words that translates to!

I did a quick count up of my own – and in terms of books read on kindle as opposed to the ‘real’ thing then I am somewhat shocked. 75 on kindle, 25 ‘real’. I know the main reason for this – netgalley. It has given me the opportunity to read lots of books, well before publication date and I have utilised it very much in 2017 and have plenty on there to read, but whilst I really need to make a dent in the amount I have requested I need to make a dent in my actual books, and remember why I enjoy reading – that physical act of holding a book, turning pages, referring back and becoming lost in a story.

I cannot promise that the statistics at the end of this year will be any different but I will give it a good go!

As for my books of the year? Oh that is a tough one but these are a few that just simply stood out for me, along with a snapshot of the review.

The use of letters, diary entries and public notices, forms a very rounded picture of the village and characters within. It is almost like experiencing the Mass Observation movement. Here was how others felt about what was going on around them in a small snapshot of the Second World War. An d whilst you may think perhaps it would be insular in its outlook, the book actually touches on problems far away from the village green and choir.

A really unique way of telling a story, and one that worked so beautifully, you could actually pick it up and read it again. An excellent debut novel. This is certainly going to be up there as one of my favourite books of 2017.

As with any Trisha Ashley novel, this is well written, the characters fully formed and developed and there is always more than one plot line weaving its way through the book.

There is so much packed into the pages.

No one knows the truth about Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926. We can all surmise from what we do know, but what we don’t know we can perhaps weave a story around. This is exactly what Andrew Wilson has done in this exciting novel, a must for all Christie fans.

Windward, 1945 – The marquee is out there on the lawn waiting for the wedding guests. Adele watches on and wonders how she has got to this point.

Windward, 2015 – The wedding marquee is out on the lawn waiting for the guests. Elle watches on and wonders how she ended up here.

It is in fact not the intervening years which complete the story it is that which has passed before.

I was transported to Elba, to the beautiful hotel, the intense heat and warmth of the sun. The sea as it was calm in the morning as Kit went to break the surface, to wake herself up, to find what she was looking for.

Star is going to have to step out of the shadow of her younger sister CeCe who since the beginning of the series I have found oppressive and claustrophobic, I was cheering Star on right from the start.

…Star has an address of a book shop in London and the name Flora MacNichol, a small black figurine and the translated quote ” The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow”.

the skill of Lucinda Riley as a creator of wonderful dual narrative stories comes into its own. We are transported back to Cumbria, to the turn of the century where the Victorian Era had been only over for about 8 years and to a young lady who is determined not to marry, to not become anything of note in society but to enjoy her artistic talents and her small animals that have become her pets and to live near her idol, Beatrix Potter.

I have never been a fan of self-help books, but if they were all like this then I would be reading far more!

If you are not a fan of Sarah Millican then this probably isn’t your cup of tea. But if you are then, grab a large slab of cake, a mug of tea and find out how to be champion or in my case more champion than I already am!

 

Dee Blackthorn is ruthless when it comes to the corporate business world and she strives for one hundred percent success. She works hard and that is all she does, there is no stop, there is no pause. Dee lives for her work.

That is until one day she finds herself without a job and back living with her brother, JP. Suddenly working all the time is not the priority.

So there you go, a selection of some of my favourites. I think looking back on the year I have stuck to favourite genres – contemporary women’s fiction and good old fashioned sagas. I have simply been reading for pure enjoyment and I intend to do the same for this coming year.

I hope you will continue to read with me in 2018.

Happy New Year.

 

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Books

The Murderess – Jennifer Wells

1931 – Kate witnesses her mother, Millicent push a woman in front of a train. Kate is fifteen. She doesn’t know who the woman was or why her mother did it.

1940 – Kate’s mother will possibly be out on parole within a year. She was spared her life despite taking another’s.

Kate has to face up to what her mother has done.

On the ninth anniversary of the tragic events, Kate sees a man on the station holding flowers, her memory is jogged and she is determined to find out the truth behind the event which has shaped her life, that of her father and family ever since.

The book is told from the point of view of both mother and daughter. Kate’s tale is told during the 1940 and Millicent’s in 1915 and up to the conclusion of events on that tragic day in 1931. Two women who are caught in world wars with very different experiences and lives but bound by the fact that they are mother and daughter.

It took awhile for me to get into the two ‘voices’ of the story initially but once I had found them, I let myself be swept along by the story. As I read there is one more story to tell that of the woman who was sadly pushed in front of the train. What part did she play and was I going to get her side of the story.

I was not expecting what I got from this book. Initially I thought it was going to be of the wartime saga variety which I love to read but this was much richer and deeper and had more realism. Starting the book with someone being pushed in front of a train is certainly going to get your attention.

As I read the pieces all started to come together, but whilst some may say it was obvious what was going to happen, I let it all unfold as I read and took each twist as it came and when I reached the end of the book – I was shocked. Inevitable perhaps but my experience of historical sagas has never been like this book – and I am hooked.

I am going to go and read this authors first novel, she clearly has the storytelling gene and it encompasses history within a saga setting and a bit of crime – a perfect combination for me.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Murderess is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

December Roundup

There we go then – December done and dusted with (well depending on when you are reading this of course).

It is time to reflect back on Decembers reading and see where it took me – into Christmas quite obviously!

I finished the lovely Canal Boat story I started earlier in the year with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Starboard Home. 

I also caught up on another author I read this year with her Christmas story Karen Clarke – The Beachside Christmas which was the best out of the trilogy she has written.

My favourite Christmas book was Heidi Swain – Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair I have loved all the books that I have read so far from this author and delight in the fact that I have two more to catch up on into the new year. This really is a Christmas feel good novel to lose yourself in completely. I so wanted to be apart of it.

I fell into the trap again of picking up what I thought was a short story only to find it was part one of four books. Grrr! Trouble is I fell for the cover of Holly Hepburn – Snowy Nights at Castle Court and didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Never mind, I have preordered the next three and only have myself to blame. Although I did resist another part one on netgalley. Serves me right for being smug about it!

I came across Samantha Silva – Mr Dickens and his Carol on The Book Trail blog and it sounded an interesting read – a bargain on Amazon for 99p (still is as of this post) and if you are a fan of Dickens this makes for an interesting concept about how the story of A Christmas Carol came to be. I wish I had discovered it earlier in the month as I would have gone ahead and reread the said book. It always seems strange reading it at any other time of the year!

With all this ‘nice’ christmas feeling books – i needed something to counteract it all and so I had been lent Paula Hawkins – Into the Water. Her second novel after the momentous Girl on a Train and for me the book was a bit of a let down, second books can either be amazing or just meh. For me it was the latter option, still good but not quite so gripping.

Back to some saga, to some well trodden path and who better to fill that spot than Rosie Goodwin – The Maid’s Courage. I thoroughly enjoyed it, some say it follows the same old formula but hey if it works why try and change it when it means you can escape real life for a few hundred pages.

And so to the books of 2018 – I have had a little head start by reading Trisha Ashley – A Good Heart is Hard to Find, one of her earlier works which has been tweaked and renamed. More about that in 2018.

I end the year (and slightly cheating because I am not sure if I will actually finish it before 23:59) reading Carole Matthews  – A Million Love Songs. A discover only in the last couple of years and whilst I should go back and read some of her earlier work I am too busy reading her recent stuff – another one to look out for in 2018.

Where will next years reading take me? Where will it take you?

 

 

Books

The Beachside Christmas – Karen Clarke

This is the final part of the Beachside Trilogy and it started with a sweet ship went over to a flower stall and now we are in the middle of Christmas and the debate rages about who has the best Christmas lights and who should turn them on in the town of Shipley.

Enter Lily Ambrose, who buys a house in Shipley because she remembers the lovely summer holidays she had there when she was a child. Buying it and moving in winter in the run up to Christmas might not be the best of moves, but Lily is leaving everything behind.

When she arrives she is thrown into the Christmas lights display and rashly makes a promise that she can get a celebrity to turn on the lights, thanks to her contacts from her past.

Trouble is the celebrity is not who or what everyone is expecting. Ollie is a failed reality TV star with a chip on both shoulders and a man not afraid to hurt anyone when it comes to giving an opinion.

He needs to reinvent himself after some rather untimely PR disasters and so he agrees to turn on the lights, but he has other ideas at the same time.

Bringing Craig his long time friend and a cameraman with him to boot, it looks like the Shipley residents and the turning on of the lights is going to be the next reality show and it seems that Lily will be at the centre of it all.

Trouble is the residents have other ideas and Lily simply wants to fit in and write her novel.

This is a really lovely read and I have to confess for me the best of the three novels in this trilogy. You do not have to have read the previous two, they all work as standalone but of course some characters crossover, not so much that you cannot enjoy each book individually.

The friendships are all portrayed as genuine, the characters believable even if their actions might be unbelievably crass, you felt you part of the story. Of course there is romance, but what will become of Lily and the choices she makes? Well you will have to read the book to find out!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Beachside Christmas is out now. 

Books

Annie’s Christmas by the Sea – Liz Eeles

I first met Annie back earlier in the year and I have to say I did not warm to her in the first book, however as the story progressed I could see the change in Annie and of course my change in the way I viewed her and the story.

So I was delighted to be back with Annie, to see how she is getting on by the sea away from the bright lights of London that she left behind in the first book.

Just when she has settled into Salt Bay, is enjoying being part of the choir which has restarted after a long ago tragedy. Her boyfriend Josh is everything she could want and she has started to feel that she actually belongs somewhere.

That is until the past comes back – the past that is actually her father, Barry  and he brings a stroppy teenage stepsister, Storm in tow as well. Clearly he thinks that perhaps Annie has some wealth. Their presence seems to be upsetting not just Annie but everyone in the village as well. They have put so many peoples backs up that Annie feels that perhaps she does not belong in Salt Bay after all.

Even her relationship with Josh is now under strain and when Barry gets involved with the choir, there seems to be nothing that Annie can do anymore that is just for her.

As Christmas looms round the corner and there is an unexpected fall of snow on the Cornish Coast, Annie struggles to work out how all these individuals will ever get on and how is the choir going to fair when they are entered for a competition?

Just like the first, this is a lovely story which shows how far Annie has comes from the original book (you don’t need to have read this to enjoy this book). Annie has softened she has let the place and the people embrace her and it has made her a better person. Along with us the reader, Annie is learning about a past she knew nothing about and how she can fit into Salt Bay and really be part of a community, a family, a relationship and a choir!

As good as the first novel and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Annie’s Christmas by the Sea is out now. 

Books

The Mitford Murders – Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Sisters have always fascinated me. How six women made such an impact on social and political history throughout the twentieth century. The people they knew and associated with jump from the pages of a history book.

When I first saw this title, I was intrigued. even more so when I learnt the author is related to Julian Fellowes* of Downton Abbey fame. There must be a storytelling gene somewhere in them there Fellowes!

But whilst this is a story, this is also a book based in reality, based in truth but I am not going to give anymore away about what reality and what truth – because like me you can read the book and find out in the end.

Louisa Cannon lives with her mother and an unpleasant Uncle, teetering on the border of poverty in London.

She finds herself escaping her uncle and going to work at the Mitford’s Oxfordshire home where she becomes a maid and companion to the Nanny and the small Mitford girls but also a friend and confidante with Nancy Mitford the eldest. Her life is going to change and Nancy sees Louisa as a way to escape the confines of being in society.

Florence Nightingale Shore related to her namesake and a nurse as well finds herself on a train at the same time as Louisa, the two do not know each other but their lives are about to become entwined especially as one ends up dead and the other making her own investigations.

This is a book which is a mix of fact made into wonderful fiction. The settings are perfect, the insight into the Mitford Sisters early upbringing intriguing although of course we  do not know how much poetic license has been taken, but the infamy perhaps gives you an idea of the characters they were when they were small.

This really is a different murder mystery book, but also seems to sit right in the Golden Age Mystery category. I am intrigued as to how the next book will pan out and what fact or reality is going to be featured and just how will the Mitford’s fit in. There is so much scope with setting yourself such a task.

* His adaptation of Mary Poppins for the stage is phenomenal!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Mitford Murders is out now. 

I loved this book but I do know that the review does not do it justice. That is what comes from being so busy that finding time to review was so difficult and I have lost the momentum you have when you want to sing from the roof tops about a book! Note to self – must try harder!