Books

May Roundup

May has rather been a wash out, weather wise – as for the reading well it was fine with few showers!

I think in reference tot he showers I must refer to the last book I read for the month which was Julie Shackman – A Secret Scottish Escape. A book I took a chance on from netgalley but sadly it did not live up to it’s premise. Of course I feel guilty and then I question why did I finish it if I didn’t like it. I have yet to answer that question myself. I just have to recognise that not all books fit sometimes.

Trying my hand with another new author to me Faith Hogan – The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club, took me away to Ireland and the wonder that is swimming. Something I adore. Although I have yet to venture into the sea, the outdoor pool is about as far as I go, but I might be tempted to the lido quite soon. This was a book which would warm you from the coldest swim.

Of course not everyone is passionate about water and the sea and when you find yourself on the coast with bad memories of a childhood incident it can cause some heartache. Liz Eeles – A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea helps reveal secrets from the past and heal past misdemeanours in this latest book.

Sticking with the sea and the beach theme, takes me back to Jewel Island and the sensuous stories that come from Holly Martin – Sunlight over Crystal Sands. Her books are fantastic travel escapism and this series seems to be getting better and better.

Travelling all over the place with my reading means I can be in Ireland, in Cornwall or all the way up to Scotland where I get to revisit another place I have enjoyed getting to know Heartcross. Back now with Christie Barlow – Primrose Park who introduces us to more people in this village and some wonderful animals too. Another place to escape to if you feel you need that.

Back down to the Cotswolds as I go back to a village I have visited before, this time I am with newcomer Hannah who decides to restart her life in Rachael Lucas – The Village Green Bookshop. Some tough subjects dealt with tact and truth and brought to life by this author with such skill.

The only trouble with reading books from authors you have read before and part of the series means you never have that thrill of devouring them one after the other and immersing yourself amongst them. When you are all caught up, you simply have to wait until the next one appears.

It is such joy when it does and I get to go back to Dartmouth and back in history with Helena Dixon – Murder at Elm House, Kitty and her beau are still caught up in some mysteries and murders and it seems we are no nearer to finding out about poor Kitty’s mother. Which means I am now patiently waiting for the next one….

I don’t have to wait with the Murder Most Unladylike novels as I have few more of these to read before I have caught up with the complete set, the latest read being Robin Stevens – Creams Buns and Crime. Despite being for children, these really indulge my love of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton’s school stories and I think are great starting point for some young readers wanting to branch out a bit.

In world full of fake news, of accusations about who said what to whom and how they were treated by the parents flit backwards and forwards across the Atlantic, it is a perfect way to escape it all between the pages of the book. However this latest, Marika Cobbold – On Hampstead Heath takes this and shows us the people that we have perhaps become and the way we need this news at the same time showing you the people who are trying to control it all. A book which challenged me and left me feeling better for being challenged.

As we go to June, I know regular followers of my blog with be well aware of Six in Six and I will be bringing that back for 2021. Do look out for the information posts in the coming days and spread the word to those who might want to join in our small select group!

Books

Hidden Secrets at the Little Village Church – Tracy Rees

This is Tracy Rees first foray into writing more contemporary fiction, and of course when an author deviates from what they are known for it is always a sense of trepidation that you approach their new work.

For me, Tracy Rees need not worry. This was a book which was simply magical and marvellous and let me escape as I devoured it in one day.

Gwen and Jarvis both in the twenties are lost. Gwen an aspiring writer is lost after losing her parents, she is still grieving and she has taken shelter and sanctuary with her Aunt Mary in the village of Hopley. But this sanctuary is more like a prison and Gwen feels trapped in the life that she has created for herself.

Her only escape is church.

Jarvis an aspiring artist. His first exposure to the art world has left him broken and with self doubt and he spends his days sleeping off the night before and his nights blotting out his days. The village of Hopley is not really the place for him, but what other choice does he have if he wants to stay at his parents.

His only escape the dream of finding the woman from three years previous at the church.

When the local vicar, pleads to his dwindling congregation for help to save the church roof, he hits upon the idea of appealing to all those who have visited the church and maybe left a message in their visitors book. He looks for volunteers.

Gwen and Jarvis step forward; Gwen has been fascinated by the visitors book and the back stories to all those people who wrote something. Jarvis is simply looking for that woman.

This very unlikely couple form a friendship and when they start to reveal the secrets of those visitors to the church they see perhaps that the little village of Hopley might have a new church roof after all. But it is not just a church roof that needs building both Gwen and Jarvis become cheer leaders for each others talents and the future for both of them looks a lot better.

A warm and heartfelt book where I wasn’t sure if I could warm to the two main protagonists who I found tiresome, sullen and quite prickly at the beginning. They both needed a good shake, but how wonderful to see such a small task be able to change Gwen and Jarvis and also my perception about them as I learnt more.

Thank you Tracy Rees this book was a pure tonic of a read and if you want to write more like this I for one will certainly be reading them. A little book of pure joy.

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

The Little Book of Secrets is out now.

Books

February Roundup

12 months ago we were just starting to worry about this ‘thing’ out there in the world but now we are 12 months on and who knew! The constant has been reading over that time and it has continued in February with a real eclectic mix of books to lose myself in. I hope you have had the same feeling.

I must be one of the only people left on the plant who has yet to watch Bridgerton – I wanted to read the book first: Julia Quinn – Bridgerton: The Duke and I and what a delightful fluffy, fizzy escapist read it was with in my opinion little reference to the regency setting it is based in. No matter. I am now primed ready to watch and then I know I can pick up the second book when I just simply want to escape and not worry much about the writing, the plot and the glaringly modern references in an historical romance book.

Sticking with the historical theme, led me to Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls on the Home Front, the next in the series and it is so wonderful to be able to just walk through the front doors of these girls houses and join in with everything happening to them. Even if some of it isn’t that nice and there is a war going on, but it is now 1944 and the ending seems in sight.

I went even further back with Helen Fripp – The Champagne Widow which is definitely going to be one of those books that will be mentioned a lot. I knew nothing of the champagne houses in France other than their names and that I am not particularly fond of the drink. But this was a magical book, which taught me so much about such a fabulous women in the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. A debut novel which fizzed with promise and delivered.

I always want to learn something when I am reading books that are based in a particular period of history or are based on real people and events and whilst the event that this book is based on was real, the setting and the time period have been changed. Emma Stonex – The Lamplighters take us to a lighthouse on the edge of Cornwall, to a mystery that will keep you awake at night and wonder during the day – where did they go and what really happened? This book is getting lots of press at the moment and is certainly one I would recommend if you want to be enthralled by a mystery.

Whilst holidays might seem a long time ago and there is some doubt as to the reality of getting one in in 2021 it is always great to escape abroad without the long haul flight. Of course with Robert Thorogood – Murder in the Caribbean you don’t really want a murder when on holiday but at least you can escape to the blue skies and warm waters of the fictional St Marie. Just solve the murder quickly so you can enjoy the rest of your break.

If you want to stay a bit nearer to home then of course Rachel Burton – The Summer Island Festival is the place to go. Relive your past music tastes and enjoy the Isle of Wight when it isn’t hosting the thousands for the main event held there. A smaller event is a bit more familiar of is it becoming too familiar and is it all going to fall apart.

Running away can be the only way to solve things sometimes and in Jane Lovering – Home on Folly Farm it was the perfect answer for Dora that is until her sister arrives bringing the past with her. Peace is shattered and so it seems is the future. This author was new to me and this was an enjoyable departure from real life with some great characters that get under your skin immediately! I will look out for more.

So that was February, some new, some old and some sheer joy. I hope March keeps the momentum up.

 

Books

January Roundup

Well they say January is a hundred million days long but a January in lockdown has a hundred million more – but we have it behind us now and whilst lockdown continues across the globe in many forms we can still seek solace in books and reading.

A month where last year I was struggling and luckily I got a change of medication and a reset before the pandemic set in, I think I would be a much darker space if I had not sought help a year ago. So I continue to manage and monitor and when it comes to reading choose books that help lift the soul and spirit and bring great joy and entertainment. And they all did.

No one new to my reading; all authors I have read before and know I can rely on for a cracking good story. Christie Barlow – The Lake House was first one off the shelf this year and it was a delight and joy to be back in Heartcross as the little Scottish has really been taken to my heart and I enjoy going there.

Criss-crossing across the country means I was transported to the west country with Helena Dixon – Murder in the Belltower, delightful Kitty and handsome Matt are trying to have a quiet time away, but it seems that intrigue and bodies follow them wherever they go.

Kate Forster – Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace takes me to the Cornish coastline and delightful cottages and a community full of spirit and secrets. And there are more secrets to be discovered in Liz Eeles – Secrets at the Last House Before the Sea, the start of her new series. Sometimes we have to ask the difficult questions and the answers can sometimes surprise us!

Still on the coast to a magical place is Holly Martin – Ice Creams at Emerald Cove where I caught up with the friends I had made there, and gladden to hear that I get to return for another visit.

A place I would love to go is Switzerland, for the snow and clean air not the skiing and I got to there vicariously through Julie Caplin – The Little Swiss Ski Chalet which is one my favourite books in this series, these really are little travelogues and such a joy to read. The desire for a Toblerone though was quite strong!

Then I travelled a bit further afield across land and sea to New York and Kenya, Geneva and England with the sixth story of The Seven Sisters – Lucinda Riley – The Sun Sister. I had been holding onto reading this for so long because you get lost in the story so much that nothing else matters – and yet again I was.

I enjoy books set with an historical twist and it was with intrigue that I picked up the latest Katie Fforde – A Wedding in the Country. This is a bit of a departure for the author and took me back to the swinging sixties and amongst the short skirts, the radical hair and the breakdown of some class barriers I got a beautiful story as you would expect from Katie.

I think eight books is a jolly good start to the year, I have to confess I have a number waiting to be read, a number of them out in the coming months and I hope to balance all of that with reading books from my shelves which have been looking forlornly at me for a while.

What have you been reading lately? Anything new I should know about?

 

Books

Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls – Holly Martin

Autumn always brings with it, the golden colours of the season’s coming to a close, of everything closing down in preparation for winter before something new and wonderful starts to emerge again in the spring.

It is almost as if Clover Phillips, one of the three sisters who owns the Sapphire Bay Hotel on Jewel Island, knows this. Back now on the island, having left her previous life and not being able to trust anyone she throws herself into her dance classes that have started at the Hotel not just for the guest but the locals as well.

As she sees her older sister Aria so wrapped up in love with Noah and her own twin, Skye battling the love and lust of a long distance relationship, Clover feels that to be able to move on she needs to break out of the fence she has put round herself.

What better way to do that than with a friend. Enter Angel Mazzo who we met in the first novel and who also happens to be Noah’s faithful, dedicated and hardworking assistant. Clover and Angel became friends very quickly.

Back for a while, Angel finds himself at the hotel when it is full and the only spare bed to be found is in Clover’s cottage. What can be wrong with two friends sharing a house?

But both Clover and Angel are starting to look at their life differently and it seems they be ready to change their friendship, their relationship and even themselves.

The book moves along at a step and you are immediately brought into life on the island as the Hotel starts to makes it mark for everyone. Halloween events are a plenty and give time for Clover and Angel to find out what each other are really like, without proper dates.

But surely proper dates are what Clover wants?

But the Angel doesn’t really do commitment does he?

Can friends ever move into other territory and can then ever go back?

As the seasons change and Autumn moves to Winter, Clover and Angel move towards a different future but will there be the happy ever after that Clover, Angel and of course the reader wants?

That would be telling of course – you will need to read the book!

This is another wonderfully romantic book from Holly Martin, which swept me away to another place. I fell in love with all the characters, I wanted to participate in the community fun for Halloween and the little mishaps along the way for all of the characters brought some much needed light relief.

Can be read as a standalone but you will more than benefit of reading the first in the series Sunrise over Sapphire Bay to get a real feel for the place as well as Clover and her sisters, Aria and Skye. I cannot wait to return because I can tell that Skye has a story to share and she definitely needs her happy ever after.

 

Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls is out now. 

Books

One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four and Five #3

Ok so it might be nine (yes nine) years since I first did this but a reflection of the years blogging gone past has led me back to it and I thought it would be good to come back to it and try it in 2020.

Thank you to Simon at Stuck in a Book who created it, all credit to him.

1.) The book I’m currently reading: 

If you have seen the Channel 5 programme or even seen Amanda and her nine (yes nine) children interviewed and fascinated but where it all started. This is the place to start and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

2.) The last book I finished: 

Despite the ARC being badly formatted through netgalley this really is a great book and I recommend it for anyone who likes cosy crime. Not sure if that was his intention but it is full of everything that makes us uniquely British.

3.) The next book I want to read: 

I read the first last year alongside the television adaptation – I was enthralled and as I can see the programme is coming back soon, I feel I need to go back and catch up with Lyra and more of the story.

4.) The last book I bought: 

For the sake of completeness and as a treat for my holiday and not going away I bought the next two in the Yorkshire Shepherdess.

5.) The last book I was given: 

Not really given as would have to go all the way back to Christmas but this is the current book I have borrowed from my mum, as part of the Read Christie 2020 challenge.

Well there is a snapshot of the here and now – I am sure Simon would not mind if you joined in.

What it has shown me is that there has been relatively few books bought in 2020 for obvious reasons I suppose. I am starting to see some gaps on my shelves and it feels good to be working my way through the books that have been waiting an age to read.

I may well do this again at some point – it may take me another nine years, but who knows? The ten years reflecting posts have only reached 2012 but I hope to make more of a headway now I have some time off work and going back through all the posts.

2020 has in many ways certainly been a time of reflection.

Books

Roundup – Six in Six 2020

First of all a very big THANK YOU to everyone who joined in. We might be a select bunch but I hope those that have just read our posts are inspired by some more in their reading, to all the new blog followers, watchers and readers it has been great to discover your little piece of the internet.

Here is a list of everyone that joined in this year. I have to say it has been a BUMPER year and I am so thrilled that you have joined in.

If I have missed you off or you know someone who took part but failed to link back to me, then let me know and I can add. We are growing year on year ever so slowly but we all have one thing in common – we like to read!

In no particular order please check out these fellow Six in Sixers!

Happy reading and discovering folks!

 

Superfluous Reading

Secret Library Book Blog

The Bookworm Chronicles 

Reading Ladies

She Reads Novels

findingtimetowrite

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Brona’s Books

Introverted Reader

Fiction Fan’s Book Reviews

Lizzie’s Literary Life

BooksPlease

Howling Frog Books

Pining for the West

The Quiet Geordie

A Darn Good Read

 

Enjoy the next few months reading and see you in 2021!

 

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 · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six 2020 – My Choices

Here are my choices for this years Six in Six – there is still time to join in and it is looking like a bumper year of blogs taking part!

Six Classic or Modern Mysteries

  1. Rachel Rhys – Dangerous Crossing
  2. Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party
  3. Sophie Hannah – The Mystery of the Three Quarters
  4. Agatha Christie  – A Murder is Announced
  5. Sara Sheridan – Highland Fling
  6. John Buchan – The Thirty Nine Steps

Six book covers that stand out

Six books I have enjoyed the most

  1. Brenda Davies – The Girl Behind the Gates
  2. Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party
  3. Sandi Toksvig – Between the Stops
  4. Ali McNamara – Kate and Clara’s Curious Craft Shop
  5. Katie Fforde – A Country Escape
  6. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut

Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year

  1. Lucinda Riley
  2. Trisha Ashley
  3. Liz Fenwick
  4. Sarah Bennett
  5. Ann Cleeves
  6. Jessica Fellowes

Six books from the past that drew me back there

  1. Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise
  2. Nancy Revell – Triumph of the Shipyard Girls
  3. Jennifer Wells – The Lost Girls
  4. Jane Johnson – The Sea Gate
  5. Fern Britton – Daughters of Cornwall
  6. Jessie Burton – The Muse

Six books set in or near a beach

  1. Carole Matthews – Sunny Days and Sea Breezes
  2. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut
  3. Heidi Swain – The Secret Seaside Escape
  4. Cathy Bramley – A Match Made in Devon
  5. Helen Pollard – The Little Shop in Cornwall
  6. Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Escape

I think I am quite pleased with my choices and 2020 in terms of reading has been good. Of course some books fit in more than one category because they were great and worth reading. Some average books of course but lots that were above average, I hope the next six months is just as interesting!

As I said at the beginning – still time for you to join in!

 

Books · Jottings

Six in Six – 2020 Edition

Here it is again – I hope that the small select few of us that complete this meme can perhaps spread the word so we have a few more participants this year. However it is always great to see fellow book bloggers joining in.

When did all this begin?

I started it in 2012 on a whim and it has been going ever since!

If you want to look back at the previous years and get a flavour then please do.

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

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
  • Six books I have read in lockdown
  • Six classic mysteries
  • Six books about Royalty
  • Six pretty book covers
  • Six books set in a country other than my own

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 2020

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 2020 reading year!