Books · Jottings

The Sixth Six in Six – 2017 Edition

So I have brought it back for a record sixth year – the meme that if you only do one in the year, then this is the one to do. It’s normally the meme I can only manage to do.

When did all this begin?

I started it in 2012, gave it another go in 2013 and went into 2014, then on into 2015 and 2016. Lots of you have been with me since the beginning.

What is it all about?

The idea being that as the end of June approaches and we are then halfway through the year,  let us share the books we have read in those first 6 months. In fact let’s share 6 books in 6 categories, or if time is of the essence then simply share just 6 books. Whatever combination works for you as long as it involves 6 books. Of course the same book can obviously feature in more than one category.

What categories can I choose from?

  • Six new authors to me
  • Six authors I have read before
  • Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of
  • Six books I have enjoyed the most
  • Six books I was disappointed with
  • Six series of books read or started
  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year
  • Six books that took me on extraordinary journeys
  • Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past
  • Six books from the past that drew me back there
  • Six books from authors I know will never let me down
  • Six books I must mention that don’t fit nicely into any category
  • Six books I started in the first six months of the year and was still caught up with in July
  • Six trips to Europe
  • Six blogging events I enjoyed
  • Six bookish things I’m looking forward to
  • Six Espionage or Historical Novels I enjoyed
  • Six Cool Classics
  • Six Non-US/Non-British Authors
  • Six From the Non-Fiction Shelf
  • Six books that didn’t live up to expectations
  • Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried
  • Six books that are related to The Great War or Second World War
  • Six bookshops I have visited
  • Six books I’ve read in an English translation
  • Six books which are better than the film
  • Six books which are worse than the film
  • Six books that have sport as their major theme
  • Six favourite places to read
  • Six books read on kindle and then went and bought an actual copy
  • Six books I abandoned
  • Six classics I have read
  • Six books I have read on my Kindle
  • Six physical books I have read
  • Six book covers I love
  • Six book covers that bear no resemblance to the story contained within
  • Six books to read to avoid politics
  • Six books I have read but not reviewed

I have again added a few new ones this year.

Or you can come up with your own category,  (If you do: please comment and I can add them to this list for future years)

What do I need to post?

Simply choose six of the categories above and list six books under that category. Some bloggers use pictures, some put excerpts of reviews. The main thing being it is six categories and six books. Of course if you want to do a shorter version, then just post something about six books you have read in the first six months of 2017.

Please link back to this post and/or my blog and share this post so we can have lots of people joining in. All those that participate I will endeavour to collate into one post.

When do I post?

Anytime in July. We have reading days left of June and that book might well fit nicely into one of the categories.

Anything else?

Please spread the word and get people to join in and let them know that we are all halfway through our 2017 reading year!

 

Books

May Roundup

I have to say that May has been the month of the kindle only two of the eight have been actual books I can hold in my hand. The rest have been ebooks downloaded from netgalley to get ahead of the reviewing game and enjoy some really good books.

So as well catching up with netgalley requests, I found myself going back to something familiar and picked up the next book I have not read in the Agatha Raisin series, M.C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and a Spoonful of Poison. I am still a few behind in this series, so I know I have some back up reading whenever I need it.

I also caught up with Fern Britton – A Good Catch, which was different from her more community focused novel as this was very much about getting the right man at whatever cost.

I have to confess to reading a lot of women’s fiction this month, but felt I needed a bit more of a thrill and that is why I picked up the current B.A. Paris – The Breakdown. A second novel which was as gripping and thought-provoking as the first. What would you do?

Sometimes it is nice to know the author that you are reading, not necessarily personally but the familiarity of the writing. although in this case I have seen the author speak. Emylia Hall – The Thousand Lights Hotel is her latest novel and takes you away to Italy, to another life and what you are searching for. Beautiful!

I have finally finished the Willow Cottage series of books, which was released initially in four parts. Bella Osborne – Summer Delights: Willow Cottage, publishing series of books seems to be very popular I do much prefer reading the whole novel. That way I can really absorb myself in the book.

Finishing a series of books is always good,because all the loose ends and unknowns are cleared up and there is enough unknowns left for you to know that their stories will go on long after the author has stopped writing and we have stopped reading them. Therefore I was excited to return to Penwith and Phillipa Ashley – Confetti at the Cornish Cafe. The final part of the trilogy does all the things I have mentioned and it was great to catch up with all the characters.

Quite a lot of my reading seems to be books that are set in Cornwall and that was no different with Liz Eeles – Annie’s Lovely Choir by the Sea. A debut novel which managed to give you a character you could love to hate. I look forward to seeing what else this author writes.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I do take part in many crafts, one of the most popular is paper crafting which is something I have never really got into, but I know many that have. Despite that I was drawn to the new novel, Carole Matthews – Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses which had so much packed into it, it was another novel which I couldn’t be torn away from.

How was your May? I hope you enjoyed what you were reading, is it moving towards a more summery feel?

Books

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Trisha Ashley

Alice always knew that her parents were not her real parents, her step father said she was discovered in Haworth outside the Bronte Parsonage. The story of her discovering was added to over the years until one day her stepfather dies.

It is only then that Alice discovers that her stepmother has always loathed her and never even wanted her. Suddenly adrift and alone again Alice tries to find a place to settle and maker her home and find some identity within her self.

In Cornwall she finds friendship with Edie who takes her under a wing and provides perhaps the motherly figure she has always been missing in her life. When Edie moves to Scotland, it isn’t long before Alice thinks that she will follow, her life in Cornwall not turning out to be very much.

In Scotland she starts to settle, meets Dan and helps in a local cafe where she can perfect her baking. But then tragedy strikes and Alice is adrift yet again. Now is the time to find out where she really belongs and so she heads to Haworth.

Making an impetuous purchase on an unseen cafe in Haworth Alice takes the bit between her teeth and decides to open a teashop with the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire. She does of course have many hurdles to overcome and has many doubters along the way but Alice’s determination to do something and make a mark is strong.

Hoping that she may well also discover the truth about her birth, as well as pursue a part-time career in writing fairy stories with a twist, Alice discovers that not all fairy tales are straightforward and they don not all have a happy ending.

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. In fact with this book you could almost say you were getting three stories for the price of one! I loved so much about this book because I cared so much for the main protagonists, I want to eat in the teashop and stay at the lovely Bed and Breakfast where Alice is made to feel at home. The short vignettes of one of the stories are no more than a paragraph and in that short space of time, I took a complete dislike to a character – that is the charm of Trisha Ashley’s novels and especially this one. There is so much packed into the pages.

One of my favourite reads of 2017 and of Trisha Ashley novels. Go buy and read it, you will not be disappointed and like me you will not want it to end.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is put now in hardback.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and of course to the wonderful Trisha Ashley for writing it. 

Books

February Roundup

It being a short month, February I have been reading shorter stories. Mainly because they have been available for me to read through netgalley and I have to confess to being rather requesting happy and now I need do some serious reading in the coming months.

I caught up with Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: Follow Your Heart which was part two of this serialised novel. Because I have started the novel this way, I will finish it this way.

Same applies to Bella Osborne – A Spring Affair: Willow Cottage this was the third part, so there is only one more to go before I have finished this story.

Obviously I prefer reading full novels and when I was given the opportunity to read Trisha Ashley – The Little Teashop of Lost and Found. I think it is the longest novel by far that she has written and it is definitely one of my favourite of the year and one of my favourite’s of hers. This is a book which you can disappear into and not come out of for ages!

Another of my favourite books so far this year is Jennifer Ryan – The Chilbury Ladies Choir, beautifully told through letters, notices and diary entries about the Second World War. This is an excellent debut novel and I thoroughly recommend it.

Of course when you choose books from netgalley, you are not always sure what you are getting and whether it will be a good book or not. I thought T.P. Fielden – The Riviera Express was going to be in the vain of a golden-age murder mystery story. But it did not work for me at all, I think it was the prose that jarred when reading it. Shame and the reason I finished it was I had to know who the perpetrator was.

Kellie Hailes – The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promises was a passable diversion but not a very strong example of women’s fiction. Predictable but the characters were not very well-formed and I could not connect with them. There are better novels out there.

An example of a better novel is Sarah Bennett – The Sunrise at Butterfly Cove. I was hooked immediately, I cared about the characters, I shed tears and wished for a happy ending. And it is great that I can go back to these characters and the setting as this is the first in a trilogy. Whilst it was a relatively short read, there is much packed into the pages it felt much longer.

I end the month with two books on the go, catching up with another one from netgalley as well as continuing the wonderful stories of Sidney Chambers.

Books

Blog Tours

Just thought I would let you know about two three blog tours that are stopping by this blog in February and March.

ambulance-girls-blog-tour-poster

Deborah Burrows is a new author to me and this was a really good read.

trisha-ashley-blog-tour

Trisha Ashley is one of my favourites and I was thrilled to be able to read her latest. If you love her work you will love this book.

A debut novel and one of the books of the year for me so far is The Chibury Ladies Choir

chilbury-blog-tour-banner

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

First month of 2107 gone. Done, dusted, put away. Surely it can only get better, brighter and warmer!

An average sort of month for reading, behind on my goodreads challenge already. which made me panic unnecessarily, because it is only the first month. However, I have throughly enjoyed all that I have read in January.

I caught up with Emma Burstall – The Cornish Guest House, I am a big fan of Emma’s work and probably should have read this when it first came out. Trouble is with authors I really like I tend to not want to read their books immedieatly as when you have done, you are bereft. I feel much the same about reading a Lucinda Riley novel.

Caught up in the hype of the new BBC Drama adaptation of Louise Doughty – Apple Tree Yard and having heard the beautiful Emily Watson be interviewed more than once, I had to read the book before it started on television. Gripping and so far the television is very much in the vision of the book I had when I read it.

What also was brought to life for me was Deborah Burrows – Ambulance Girls. A new author to me and I was asked whether I wanted to partake in the blog tour for the book. The setting is London in the Second World War, and the focus is on those that stayed behind and risked their lives while the bombs were reigning down. However there was a lot more depth to this book and I am looking forward to more in the series.

If you want comfort, easy reading then I normally turn to an author I know will provide that. Which is why I picked up Debbie Macomber – A Girl’s Guide to Moving On. It was one of a series which I did not realise, but it did not detract from the story. The book fulfilled what I wanted it to, but if you asked me to tell you what it was about I probably would struggle.

I have been rather request happy on netgalley in the last month, which is why I was suddenly at the recommended 80% feedback and now I am not. Like a child in a sweetshop looking at all the bright colours I was hooked by so many, and I think some might be of a similar ilk. However I started with Karen Clarke – The Beachside Sweet Shop. If the rest are as good as this, it will be great and I get my feedback percentage back up.

I have also picked up a book from my shelf that has been hanging around for a while which has been in complete contrast to everything else I have read this month Essie Fox – The Somnambulist. I am late to the Essie Fox party but that must mean I have a few to catch up on and enjoy.

So that was January – and I finish it reading another one of my requests from netgalley, which I can feel is going to be a stand out book.

 

 

Books

Paula Daly – Top Tips for Budding Writers

 

My latest review was the latest book from Paula Daly – The Trophy Child. Whilst I have participated in the blog tour for this, I was a bit remiss in not publishing the fact but the lovely people at Penguin Random House and of course Paula herself has sent me some ‘tips for budding writers’ to support my review which was published on this blog on the 27 January.

Without further ado, I hand over to Paula:

Full disclosure: I could not have found the time to write when I had a full time job and a young family. Some people do. I am not one of them. I’ve read accounts of people getting up at four in the morning, writing a thousand words before work, to pursue their dreams of becoming a published author, but when my kids were small the best I could do was get a meal on the table each evening, and make sure they had clean uniforms to wear.

I started writing when, after a move to France, I was able to work part time when I returned to the UK. I have three children and my youngest would have been around three at the time. For me, the key to getting the words down on paper was carving out a decent amount of time in which to write. Say, an hour or so. So I got super-organised with everything else that needed doing around the house. Everything that could be done outside of that hour I did fast and efficiently, to protect the writing time. Then I would pick my youngest up from nursery, put him in front of the TV with some toys, jigsaws and a drink, and I would write in the next room for as long as I was able to.

Now that my kids are teenagers everything is easier. And now that I’m a fulltime novelist I no longer have to slot writing in around a day job. But I do employ a number of tricks to maximise my writing time. Here are my five top tips:

1)                          Plan your meals weekly and shop for groceries online. This whole process takes me twenty minutes per week using the Tesco app. I used to find grocery shopping for five frustrating and a colossal drain of my energy. Now I can have it delivered to my kitchen towards the end of my writing day. So I get the word count done and all I have to do is put the stuff away.

2)                          Don’t answer the phone. My extended family know that I don’t answer the phone if I’m working. I screen calls and if it’s not one of the kids, or their school calling, I don’t pick up. Relatives don’t think writing is a proper job and think you can stop and have a chat whenever you like. You can’t. Call them back when you’ve finished. Or else better still, call them and put them speakerphone when you’re doing something mindless like folding washing. Two birds etc.

3)                          Have a notepad handy. When I first started writing, I was bursting with ideas but I couldn’t get these ideas down on paper until my allotted ‘writing time’. So I would write notes all day: when the vegetables were boiling, when the kids were in the bath, when I was outside school waiting for them to come out. What I found was, when I did finally get down to writing, it felt more like I was taking dictation, as I had all of my ideas already formed.

4)                          Lose the guilt. To make a real go of this you’re probably going to have to put your writing before your kids a little more. And what I mean by that is, you may have to get rid of some of the extra-curricular activities. My youngest quite liked football and wanted to join a team…but we refused. I didn’t want to spend my weekends, rising early, driving thirty miles to stand in the freezing rain, when I could have been reading a book in bed instead. Because to be a writer you must read a lot. And you need the time to do it.

5)                          Once the kids are of an age when they can be left to play alone, tell them you’re writing and you’re not to be disturbed. They won’t care. Really, they won’t. And they won’t become damaged by your not spending ‘quality time’ with them either. Most kids don’t actually like quality time and would much rather be pleasing themselves than doing an activity that you deem to be a good use of their time.

Thanks to Paula, I hope it has inspired some people out there. If it hasn’t then remember all that hard work of Paula’s has gone into creating some cracking good reads – do check out The Trophy Child.