Books

The Killings at Kingfisher Hall – Sophie Hannah

Anyone taking on the task of taking Hercule Poirot and carrying on his tales is gong to always come in for some criticism – not least because it can never be the same. Very true but in a world where nothing is ever going to be the same, it is refreshing to revisit a familiar character doing what he does best – using the little grey cells to solve crime.

In this case, Poirot is waiting to board a coach to the Kingfisher Hill Estate. The coach is full and whilst he intends to sit with his friend and colleague Inspector Catchpool of Scotland Yard, the ramblings of a woman who thinks she will be killed if she sits a certain seat means that the journey Poirot and Catchpool take is very different.

Whilst one of them sits next to someone convinced they are going to be murdered, the other site next to someone who confesses to having done such a thing.

It is all very unsettling for Poirot, especially when the real reason for going to Kingfisher Hill is at the bequest of Richard Devonport. His fiancee is waiting to be hanged – for killing his brother Frank Devonport. The rest of the Devonport family are not to know why Poirot is really there.

But when another disclosure prevents Poirot from remaining undercover and unnoticed it seems that there is much to learn about the Devonport’s and the Kingfisher Hill Estate.

With numerous confessions, lies and truths littered throughout the book, it seems that it can only take Poirot to the right answer – which it turns out has been obvious from the beginning of his quest.

Can you see what Poirot can see?

Poirot’s nature, his use of his little grey cells, the way that his sidekick, Catchpool’s seemingly innocent in what is taking place round him and with some twists along the way, make it for an entertaining and intriguing read. Likeable and loathsome characters, changeable sympathies with the people along the way, the reader is drawn right in to the puzzling mystery.

If you can think of the best Christie you have read and team it with the best David Suchet Poirot adaptation you have seen then you have captured the essence of this book (and Hannah’s three previous Poirot novels). It works, don’t ask me how it just does.

Sophie Hannah’s novels are the closet we are ever going to get to wishing for more Agatha Christie stories – they are a must for all Golden Age Crime fans.

 

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

The Killings at Kingfisher Hill is out now. 

Books

August Roundup

So what was your August like – as you planned? Or like most people’s taking it as it comes. As the world around us changes, pivots, tilts and decides what is going to happen next I have sought much solace from being at home, reading, crafting and just being. Luckily enough now I can go back swimming which has been an absolute balm to soothe and has helped my mental health no end. As I go back to work and wait to find out what happens in terms of hours and contracts I just hope that all the things that help me continue to do so.

August was a real mix of books and were just what was needed – Louise Candlish – The Disappearance of Emily Marr has been sat on my shelf for awhile and as I make some dents in these books I picked this one up. The first I have read by this author and it was different from perhaps what I am used to and was a great change, I must seek more of her work out. Sometime you need a book that finishes and you just don;t know what happens!

Of course when it comes to murder mystery you have to know what happens, otherwise what would be the point! The book you will no doubt see a lot of is Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club. Sadly the formatting on the advanced copy was poor and that did make it harder to read, but once I got over my fastidious and got into the book I was hooked. If you want a book that says everything about being British – then this is it.

Of course if you want fastidious then look no further than Hercule Poirot. I can accept a tribute to such a great character and a great author and I know there are some naysayers out there but Sophie Hannah – The Killings at Kingfisher Hall is an excellent novel and a great introduction to good old fashioned golden age murder mystery.

Sticking with the golden age theme then picking up Anthony Horowitz – Moonflower Murders which took be back to Atticus Pund and his author Alan Conway, it is a novel within a novel. And if you think that can’t possibly work – trust me it does.

A book with no definite chapters can be a troubling read – it can work and it can fail spectacularly and reminds me of a colleague who writes emails and notices in a stream of what I can only call verbal diarrhoea. However when it works it works brilliantly as it does with Lissa Evans – V for Victory. A book that takes you to the heart of the conclusion of the war on the home front and the devastation still be wrought across London.

If you want devastation then imagine not having enough hay to feed the animals for the next year, or enough lambs to be able to sell or breed. Imagine doing that miles from any where and with nine children in tow. Well known on the television for their programme on Channel 5. I picked up Amanda Owen – The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen – A Year in the Life of The Yorkshire Shepherdess and Amanda Owen – Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess as a treat for not having a holiday this year. Amazing, what a life and again there is many critical of her chosen life and the way she has decide to raise her children – but I feel that they will be more well rounded adults than many of their generation to come. Their playground is acres of land and if that is the only way you can enjoy the outdoors then I implore you to read the books and watch the programmes.

Books are a great place to escape to other places and what better than to experience Holly Martin – Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls who manages to always achieve this and throws in a big dollop of romance too. I am booked into visit Jewel Island again I hope.

I also want to go and stay in Christie Barlow – Starcross Manor or even the little B & B in Heartcross because I know I will be welcome and there will be plenty of people to catch up on and you can walk for miles, breathe the fresh air and reconnect with nature.

Of course it can be whatever season you wish but what better than a Katie Fforde – A Rose Petal Summer where I was taken from London to Scotland to France and all back again. I simply enjoy Katie’s novels and they are just like old friends, pick one up and you are immediately whisked away.

Talking of old friends what about when you have made a pact with your oldest friends that it is the three of you forever? What happens to Ruth Jones – Us Three life has a funny way of making it a lot harder than you imagined and perhaps only giving you things you can actually deal with. Some friendships are just not meant to be forever.

Friendship betrayal and forgiveness can lead to all sorts of disaster and even escaping to Helen Rolfe – The Little Cottage in Lantern Square can have consequences . When it threatens your whole world surly the answer is to confront it head on and not run away again?

I don’t think I was disappointed with any of these books they all proved to be the right books at the right time. Serendipitous you could say!

How was you August?

 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As 2020 ambles along, the reading has been keeping apace and I seem to be devouring more books and spending more time with reading, crafts and jigsaws than I do television. The best bit about July was that first length in the outdoor pool at the gym on the 26th July. Sheer utter bliss!

Of course it is the books you are most interested in – so without further ado.

Proper sagas are what is missing in some of my previous reading months and years and I have found that whenever I go back to them, I seem to what to read more and more. Dilly Court – The Constant Heart a story to get lost in and that I did, I am sure I enjoyed it more by the feel of the book in my hand – I read a tremendous amount on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) but you cannot beat that feeling of being lost in a story and pages and holding on to it in your hands.

Joanna Rees – The Hidden Wife, is the second in a trilogy about the era of the Bright Young Things, the 1920s. This time action in the main has moved to Paris and as the story develops on one side of the channel, the past is stirring things up at home for all the main characters.

Moving forward a few decades got me to Cathy Mansell – The Dublin Girls, although read on kindle this is another author who if you are looking for something of the Catherine Cookson variety, then you have found it. Set in 1950s Ireland it is a great example of fiction that captures you and holds your attention to the very end.

Of course murder mysteries and thrillers can hold your attention too as did Simon Mayo – Knife Edge – the opening few pages have you right in the heart of the plot and the story and whilst I did think it got a bit “ploddy” for a while it soon picked up pace and had your heart racing to the denouement.

Talking of denouements is a great plot to segway into Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit, which was the Read Christie 2020 book for July. One I have never read, very different from a Poirot and a Marple but with the familiar face of Colonel Race who you see in other Christie novels. Another books ticked off my Christie list.

Chattering as I am about lists, I have add a new author for me to catch up on and read more of since I gave Jo Thomas – Escape to the French Farmhouse a go. I was swept away to the french countryside and the lavender fields, the glorious food and the love of a simple life. I cannot think of any better way in escaping the world than with a book like this.

You cannot always escape your past and sometimes it comes back to not just haunt you but to weave its way into your present day as it does with Emma Davies – The Wife’s Choice. A move away from perhaps what you are used to and this was an wonderful look at dysfunctional families and lives that need to move on.

Of course with dysfunctional families you cannot always go back to places you knew as a child but soemtimes you are drawn there as in Trisha Ashley – The Garden of Forgotten Wishes. Trisha’s books get better and better and this is no exception. And for those who cannot get into a garden for whatever reason, read this book – all the hard work without the muddy hands and aching back!

And of course we all like a happy ending, a good old fashioned wedding and a bit of a cry and Caroline Roberts – Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry delivers that in spades. What I assume is the end of series of books featuring Rachel and all her delightful cooking came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading what comes next from this author. (In the meantime I a Chocolate Shop to visit).

So that was July, a mix of genres as I need to be reminded that life is not all sunny and roses, but in the main I spent my time simply enjoying all the stories.

And there is plenty more to come in August.

How was your July? Anything you wish to recommend?

Books

May Roundup

Another month in ‘lockdown’ and the weather has been glorious which has probably been a blessing in disguise. As measures are carefully eased everyone waits to see what happens. In the meantime the reading and enjoying the simple things in life continues.

May has been quite a bumper month of reading, warm nights, nothing on the TV and good reads makes it all that much easier to get lost in a good book. There have been plenty.

I plough on with the amount I have requested from Netgalley and it times it panics me when I see what I have requested and read and then I see what I have on my shelf and wonder when I will ever get to it all?

Emylia Hall – A Heart Bent out of Shape has been one of the books languishing on my shelf for a while and so it made its way off there and was the sort of fiction book I have not read for a while. A coming of age novel, first loves and losses and with the backdrop of Switzerland it was a well crafted novel. This author’s work has always been excellent.

Of course knowing the author is always a draw when picking up a new book and all the books I have read this month have been by authors known to me, I have not branched to try something new. Which probably given our current circumstances is the right thing. There is something comforting by the familiar.

Always comforting and fascinating is Agatha Christie – The Body in the Library, read for the Christie 2020 challenge, ironically seen so many times on the television I haven’t actually read the book. Remedied now and one of the most clever pieces of Christie in my opinion.

Sticking with crime and set in similar times and locations I was delighted to rejoin Kitty Underhay in Helena Dixon – Murder at the Playhouse. The third in this serious and such perfect escapism, there are many on these ‘types’ of novels out at the moment, but this is the series I have decided to stick with and enjoy. I think the hotel setting and base for the main characters is one of the interesting draws for me.

As is train journeys and big houses and Sara Sheridan – Highland Fling in the latest Mirabelle Bevan novel is one of the best. We get to see more between Mirabelle and Alan and start to learn a lot more about their past.

So from the thirties, the fifties I was taken back to the Second World War with Fern Britton – Daughters of Cornwall. A multi narrative novel which was not what I was expecting from this author but is a sheer delight of mystery and intrigue made all the more interesting with the backdrop of Cornwall. Fern has definitely added another string to her bow with this novel.

Sticking in Cornwall as many books I read just happened to be set there is Helen Pollard – The Little Shop in Cornwall. Her latest takes us to the shop Healing Waves and the residents of the little seaside community. A book full of passion and frustration and a bit of balm to soothe.

Still in Cornwall, (the place must be over run with authors!) Rachel Dove – The Second Chance Hotel  introduces us to Shady Pines Chalet Park and the start of a new life for all the characters.

All this up down the country is making me feel dizzy but I was back in Scotland with Jenny Colgan – Five Hundred Miles From You. A book which is packed full of scenery, weather and landscape which adds so much to the story.

Back down to the coast and Brighton for Bella Osborne – Meet me at Pebble Beach, not quite the best I have read this month, felt the title was very misleading as it did seem to me that the beach was not mentioned enough to warrant it.

Finally I got to leave the UK with Julie Caplin – The Little Teashop in Tokyo and went half way round the world. These books could be compared to bringing holiday brochures to life with background and quirky characters from both home and abroad. This was certainly my cup of tea.

I have enjoyed all the books I have read, they have kept me occupied, enthralled, captivated and let me escape from the real world. Where has your May reading let you escape to?

On with June’s travels.

Books

April Roundup

Well that was April, it seemed long and no doubt many people felt the same way. But enough about that what about the books. I did think I had lost my reading momentum and that having a sudden abundance of time to read I wasn’t going to but I think that was a mere blip and I simply chose the right books for reading.

Which is why this month was lucky enough to feature some of my favourite authors. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut is to be published in May and was a wonderful read which took me to the beach and gave a big dollop of love and laughter. A real soothing balm of a book. All of her beach hut series work is standalone so you need no prior knowledge of anything and this a great book to get to know the author.

Another given with a good story is Katie Fforde – A Country Escape, pure escape and again left with that warm fuzzy feeling which was just what the doctor ordered! This book had been on the shelf for a while and it felt even better reading an actual book and being lost in it as it did, reading on my kindle.

As had Cathy Bramley – A Match Made in Devon, escaping again to Devon and the coast, where I would love to have stayed and experienced and watched all the comings and goings of a coastal village.

Going a bit further west and you reach Cornwall with Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Escape, so many people have escaped Porthmellow or escaped too Porthmellow it is all bound to come to a head at some point. And it does in a real interesting way.

You could say these four authors write similar fiction, and they do of course. However there writing is so good that they all stand out and do not merge into one which can happen when you read similar authors all the time.

That is unless the author takes a different path. I picked up Adele Parks – Just My Luck with slight anticipation as it was a number of years since I had read one of her books and they were my first foray into more adult women’s fiction than the family sagas I used to read. I was not disappointed this book was ‘edge of your seat’ stuff and had me guessing to the end and was one of those books that left you with the question – what would you do?

I have never read any of Sophie Hannah’s normal books for want of better way of putting it, but I have devoured her Poirot ones and so to catch up again with what I had on my shelf I picked up Sophie Hannah – The Mystery of the Three Quarters. Of course no one writes like Christie but this pretty damn close and a really good mystery to get into – red herrings and all!

Liking a mystery and having seen the BBC adaptation repeated over Christmas (I think) and also been to see a theatre production of a radio play of it. I thought it was about time I picked up and read John Buchan – The Thirty Nine Steps, it really has a pace to it and I felt I was being pursued as Hannay was in the book, I admit to being a bit confused with the who was who and what was what and the book could probably do with a rereading in years to come, but this is definitely one of those books I think everyone should read and see how thrillers have moved on since this was written over 100 years ago!

In a more sedate manner it is has been a joy to discover this series of books and a joy to pick up Robin Stevens – Jolly Foul Play, back at school and Daisy and Hazel seem to be discovering more bodies, this time the head girl. It does sound like jolly foul play to me but then no one liked the head girl apparently.

Recently having discovered Erica James books I was given the chance to read Erica James – Letters from the Past and whilst it featured characters from a previous unread novel, it was a great family story which was full and swept you away. I am definitely wanting to read more Erica James.

And only one new author to me this month – Jane Johnson – The Sea Gate again I was taken to Cornwall with this dual time narrative. A big house, a mystery and a war but is that in the past or in the present and it seems there is only some distant relative to uncover the truth.

Not a bad month, all things considered. I have found a rhythm of having a current or upcoming book on my kindle and one from my shelves as a physical copy so I can flick between the two. They need to be fairly different though as I can get muddled especially if they are set in similar plcs – Cornwall being a prime example.

So how has your reading faired? More or less? Or just the same?

 

 

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!

Books · Jottings

October Roundup

 

Here we are again, the clocks have gone back, autumn is in full swing and the wonder that is Christmas is all over the place, including this book!

Another dose of antibiotics to fell a horse were consumed and it has been a bit of an up and down time overall for this month – a lot to contend with. I can tell the reading has been affected.

Nonetheless what have I read?

Let’s get the Christmas reading out of the way first – Caroline Roberts – Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is a return to a book published earlier this year and is a delicious read if you want some comfort with your reading and with your puddings! I would like to go back and read some of Caroline’s earlier work as I think I would enjoy them.

The final part of the Bluebell Castle trilogy got devoured in less than 2 days – mainly because I want to move into the castle and be part of such a wonderful eclectic mix of people doing their own thing! Of course it was Christmas in Sarah Bennett – Starlight over Bluebell Castle and that just added to the magic even more.

Another book in a series that I have been with since the very beginning is Nancy Revell – Christmas with the Shipyard Girls. This is one of the best saga series out there and champion women in all the different roles they choose whilst the men are away at war. I await each book with anticipation and hope they continue.

It has been a while since I have read any Ellen Berry and I have since discovered that this is a pseudonym for Fiona Gibson.  Anyway I was taken to Snowdrops at Rosemary Cottage which was not quite full on Christmas as some books I have read lately.

Of course with all the Christmas and the lovely books I get the opportunity to read I do need to make a dent in what I have on shelves both actual and virtual which is why I picked up Liz Fenwick – The Cornish House, her books are a delight to read, this is an earlier work and great for anyone who is a fan of Cornwall as a backdrop for their stories.

Sue Perkins – East of Croydon was a Christmas present last year and has been sitting on the shelf. It is a record of her adventures to Asia and is a great accompaniment to the series she has made which I think are great fun to watch. Her humour is very unique and British and I think that is why she makes a good travel reporter as her delivery is spot on.  All read and another gap on the shelf!

As is there from Milly Johnson – The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew which was a recent buy and I have dipped in and out of this authors novels, as my whim takes me. This was quite powerful stuff and very apt for our current climate. I was rooting for Mrs Mayhew from the beginning and horrified that the people she was having to live with and deal with really do exist. We do not know what goes on behind closed doors.

Not knowing and suspicions leads me nicely into Agatha Christie – The Pale Horse which I think will be the BBC Christmas adaptation this year. I have seen then bizarre version with Miss Marple in (she does not appear in the book) and so I am intrigued as to how this will be portrayed. I wanted to read the book so I know I could do a good compare and contrast exercise with it. If you strip back the suspicions and the unknown – this is a really good mystery and a good example of Christie’s work that doesn’t feature her two main protagonists.

So that was October, I finish it reading Lily Graham’s new novel which is moving, powerful and heart wrenching that I have had to ration myself. So I picked up Belgravia, again sitting on my shelves for a while as I see this is going to be on ITV next year. More comparing and contrasting.

On with November.

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

And there goes August in a blink of an eye and eighteen, yes eighteen books later! I think that must be a record for me and I am not really sure what I can put it down to.

Well three weeks off work probably helps as does it being too hot to do much else that read. Added to that being away and not having to worry about cooking the dinner and washing the dishes meant even more time to read. But enough of how and why – what have I read!

Where to start as this month has also been the month that I have picked up the most physical books in a long time, as opposed to reading them on my kindle. This started with Agatha Christie – The Secret Adversary which had been languishing on my shelf for a while and it was one of the books chosen for Read Christie 2019 for the month of July so I thought I would get along and read it and tick another one off my Christie List.

Another book on my shelf that has been there a while was Tom Winter – Lost & Found. I had not lost it but found it again and decided it was time I got round to reading it. It still captured my interest from the first moment I picked it up and the gentleness and tragic story that unfolded was wonderfully written. I will look out for this author again.

Clearing the bookshelves again with a chunky one this time – Robert Galbraith – Lethal White. I got the hardback copy for a Christmas present last year and thought I better get round to reading it. Oh how I wished for the paperback version – still a chunky book but perhaps not as dangerous as a hardback. That said I was hooked and dragged it away with me and for the first day I was engrossed enough to keep reading it as I wanted to get up to date with Cormoran Strike and Robin. Now I am and I am ready for the adaptation – starting to be filmed according to Holliday Grainger (interviewed on Radio 2 with Zoe Ball in August). Not sure how long we will have to wait for another book though.

There are some definite gaps on my bookshelves now especially when I picked up Katie Fforde – Recipe for Love. You are always guaranteed a good story with Katie Ffforde and this was no different as whilst I had read a short story featuring these characters I had not understood how we got to the point. It was great to back to the beginning and see how it all started. I am slowly catching up on her oeuvre and spotted an unread one in a charity shop so snaffled it up for when I want something to lose myself in.

Maeve Haran – In A Country Garden was an author I had not read before and I was intrigued by the cover and the premise of the book so picked it up to make another dent in my bookshelf. A laugh out loud book about growing old and coming together to help each other. Not an author I might pick up again but it was a pleasant diversion.

Despite the gaps on my bookshelves there is still plenty to choose from but that doesn’t stop me buying more – well I have to fill those gaps with something! I am not a big fan of my local Waterstones, the books seem to be getting less and less and the other stuff more and more. However, I came away with enough to keep me occupied. Some before I even got out of the shop. Amanda Brown – The Prison Doctor had me hooked when I nipped to have a coffee and a cookie as a treat (well I was on holiday) and finished within twenty four hours, passed to my mum who ploughed through half the book in one afternoon in the garden. Its brutally honest tale was rather like watching “car crash television” and I forever grateful that there are people who do these jobs. These types of books are either a hit or a miss. This was a hit.

From Prisons to Schools with two books I picked up from the children’s section – Robin Stevens – Murder Most Unladylike and Robin Stevens – Arsenic for Tea. School girl tales which I spotted when scrolling through some website and I was intrigued. Think Enid Blyton meets Agatha Christie and you are already halfway there. I picked up book three at the same time but have yet to allow myself to read it. A bit of a risk but still and I am delighted to discover that there are another five plus short stories to catch up on. The covers are great and colourful, the illustrations are top notch and in fact they are totally spiffing stories!

Talking of murder and being ladylike leads me to the next Mitford sister in Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Scandal. This is the third novel and therefore third sister, Diana is the main character. These are really engrossing stories and you forget how much society overlapped in the early part of the twentieth century and that some these names are still known today.

Now if you mention Ann Cleeves to me, I might say wife of Henry VIII but also Vera the great character she created and brought to life by the sublime Brenda Blethyn. You also might think about Shetland as well. However now we are going to have someone else to talk about in – Ann Cleeves – The Long Call. DI Matthew Venn is the new detective on the block and we are all the way down in North Devon. A man’s body is discovered not far from Venn’s home and a vulnerable adult goes missing. Can they be connected in any way? Even more excitingly this has been optioned for television and we will have another detective series to enjoy over and over again.

Still with me – just over halfway now!

A holiday would not be a holiday without some treats and this book is definitely one of them – Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Bus. Normally released in parts I find Cressida’s books make much better reading as a whole and this is no exception. Who would not want to traverse Cornwall in a bus eating scones and clotted cream?

Talking of Cornwall took me to Laura Purcell – Bone China. Well written and with some fascinating elements however, the plot was too fanciful for me and my rational, logical mind always fights such things. The second of this authors books I have read and have felt the same.

Perhaps it is too fanciful for a woman to run off and join the Navy. They can nowadays although they are still very much in a man’s world. But what if it was over 200 years ago and the Navy were off to fight a war. Beryl Kingston – Hearts of Oak, is a reissue of an earlier novel and tells such a story of a women looking for husband as he is surreptitiously press ganged into Nelson’s Navy. Yes that Nelson and yes that battle. As a Portsmouth girl, the places and the local stories resonated with me. A great piece of historical fiction which has some fact woven into the story.

As well as making in dent in bookshelves in shops and home, there are some older requests on netgalley for which I have yet to get to. One of them was Rachel Burton – The Many Colours of Us, now having read it I do not know why it took me so long and why I have not perhaps caught up with her more recent work. An emotive story which you made you see all sides of events and the characters within the plot and you can see how many colours make us all up.

We all have different stories to tell and versions of ourselves but when Anna Darton runs away from home  she needs to reinvent herself and so she does in Joanna Rees – The Runaway Daughter. It is 1920s London and you can be anything that you want to be but your past is always in the shadows and sometimes cannot be outrun.

The past is a funny place to research even more so when it gives you clues to your own future. Katherine Slee – For Emily is a debut novel which I think is going to make quite a noise. The imagery used is carefully thought out and the quietness of the book suggests a time of grief and rediscovery for all.

New beginnings are common themes for many books and in Rachel Dove – The Fire House on Honeysuckle Street this is no different apart from the fact that both Lucy and Sam are starting again and they have to move forward no matter what. The latest from Rachel Dove’s books set in the fictional Yorkshire place Westfield.

And finally……what better place to start reading about Christmas in August than with Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Christmas. This book was not overtly Christmassy and had just enough festive cheer and tragedy that was needed to make a very interesting story come to life. No more about it though – you will have to wait a few months to read my review!

Thank you for making it thus far and popping into my little reading world.

I hope you enjoyed your August, I certainly did mine and now as I look to going back to work tomorrow I also look forward to seeing where my reading might take me next.

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

June Roundup

Of course now we are into July you can start posting your Six in Six posts. If you don’t know what I am on about please check out the link here and share what has been good and not so good in the last 6 months.

I packed a lot into the month of June, mainly because we have had some awful rainy days where there is nothing better than curling up with a book but also some blistering hot days when it is too hot to do anything apart from read and cool down with a gin and tonic.

Of course when you read it can be summer all the time and this month was certainly in terms of reading.

I caught up with Liz Eeles – A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle, nothing better than a browse in a bookshop and a strawberry cake for a treat as well. I hope all is still well at the Cosy Kettle.

Not everyone has access to bookshops so the bookshop can come to them it turns out in Jenny Colgan – The Bookshop on the Shore revisiting characters I had not met but a wonderful story which means I need to catch up in what goes on in Scotland.

Scotland happened to be a frequent place for me this month. I was beyond excited to catch up with the villagers of Heartcross in Christie Barlow – Foxglove Farm and even more excited that there will be another book. I don’t get out much!

I embraced Kirsty Wark – The House on the Loch which was a story of a family where tragedy creates a place to stay and the past is clearly affecting the present. Fascinating and well written, I need to read Wark’s debut novel this being the ‘difficult’ second novel.

Then within a page or two I can be transported down to Somerset in Veronica Henry – A Home from Home more family differences and secrets to be discovered.

Somerset is the perfect stop on the way to Cornwall which is where I ended up with Holly Martin – The Little Village of Happiness the premise an intriguing one – come and stay in the village of Happiness for a year with your own house and shop for free. Some people need to work at their happiness.

Of course you can go abroad for the summer to find out the answers to some questions and find your own happiness as well, Italy seems a popular place. Alex Brown – A Postcard from Italy a mix of modern and historical fiction in a change from what you would expect from Alex Brown. Though the glorious village of Tindledale is mentioned as it is in the little short story as well Alex Brown – The Great Summer Sewing Bee.

Some people see festivals as their holiday time and interspersed with weddings they can also make a summer. Annie Robertson – Four Weddings and a Festival takes you there in what I can only describe as a love letter of a book to Richard Curtis films and Hugh Grant!

But even if it is not all romance and weddings, festivals and farms it can still be very much families as it was in Agatha Christie – Dumb Witness. Another one to tick off my list and realise the brilliance of the writing and the plot.

What has you start to summer been like?