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

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!

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.

Witterings

Parish Notices

 

Well it is three weeks since I lasted posted a little notice and how our lives have changed since then. At that point it was the day before we were told, this is it. Everything is to close and we are not to go far from our homes unless really necessary. My normal routines have been thrown into disarray and I am now finding others, like a lot of others probably have yet to find one that works.

I have still gone to work, I have reduced my hours considerably and I am now on leave. I needed a rest, my heads was full and I was starting to suffer from it. I recognise the signs. But of course when I go back everything will still be up in the air. I there again need to find another work routine.

The reading as I might have mentioned before took a bit of a dive, it has picked up, I think because of the books I chose. Agatha Christie, Poirot and some Katie Fforde have been wonderful places to escape into. Also reading without thinking about reviewing can be a blessing. I am so glad that I made the decision not to review every book I read anymore.

Keeping busy is of course important (as is not eating your body weight in food every day). I go out for my prescribed exercise, I have a rather steep hill (it probably isn’t that steep) to climb where I can look across the Solent and can see the formation of Portsmouth Harbour and beyond if it is clear. It has become my nemesis and I am determined to walk up there without getting out of breath!

I needed something to listen to on these walks, and whilst music can be great, I have the radio on most days for most of the day. I wanted to be educated so I have got into Something Rhymes with Purple Podcast with Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth. Great fun, interesting and I am learning as I am pounding the pavements, looking out for rainbows and signs in windows. I have come across some knitting on a lamppost, books being offered in boxes outside houses and a general sense of we are all in this together.

As keeping the hands occupied (and away from the chocolate) I can turn to my knitting, crocheting, sewing and anything else in between, I present to you a selection of some of the last few days efforts.

It has been a while since I have shared so much of my craft stuff on this blog. There was a lot more in the early days of the blog and I am also still looking back through 2012 posts so I can do a review of that year soon. That could be my project for next week?

How are you all managing? What are you up to?

Books

Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay – Katie Ginger

This is the start of a series of books by Katie Ginger, set in the glorious Swallowtail Bay.

Here in the first, Stella recently divorced puts all her money into a gift shop with some questionable gifts in it and two holiday lets in Swallowtail Bay. She has nothing to lose apart from all her money, but she has escaped what she knows and this is her chance to start again.

With only her dg Frank for company, Stella throws herself into the gift shop and starts to make a small success of it, even if some of the locals are slightly perturbed that it was her who managed t purchase the shop.

Miles had his eye on the shop as he is fed up with travelling and wants to put some roots down in the only place he has known as home – Swallowtail Bay. The gift shop seemed ideal until Stella came along.

Stella starts to fit in and make friends, single mum Lexi is trying to make ends meet by working in one of the local cafes next door and her friendship grows with Stella. As it does with some of the more older residents of the seaside town.

But even if Stella seems to be making a success of the little gift shop that you could spend a lot of time browsing in, her holiday lets are going to test her even further. You never know who you are going to get rent them. It proves for some interesting actions and reactions.

Some of the local residents seem to have a lot to say about Stella and when she is then invited to her ex husbands wedding she wonders whether it was all worth it and she is going to fail.

This really is a book full of warmth. Friendships forged and never forgotten. The cross generational divide which brings communities together works in Lexi’s favour and her passion for all things vintage I am sure would make a book on its own. Of course there is a romantic element within the book and whilst of course these things don’t always run smoothly sometimes the best things for people are simply staring them in the face!

A great book to escape to on a wet day or a hot day. Swallowtail Bay is a place you will want to visit again and again.

 

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

Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay is published on 18 March. 

 

Books · Witterings

February Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books

Holly Martin Books

I am rather an avid fan of Holly Martin and have read the following eleven of her novels in the last four years or so:

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky

Spring at Blueberry Bay

Summer at Buttercup Beach

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach

Coming Home to Maple Cottage

The Summer of Chasing Dreams

The Little Village of Happiness

The Gift of Happiness

I have a few more to catch up on but in the meantime I am delighted to be able to tell you about her new novel.

Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.

Sunrise over Sapphire Bay is published on the 24th April and you can pre-order the book here. Of course it is already on my list to be read!

If you are looking for books to bring a bit of sunshine into your life then these could well be the books for you.

 

I occasionally receive an advanced review copy of Holly Martin’s novels but I receive no payment or other incentive in reading, reviewing them or promoting her work. 

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

Snowed in at The Practice – Penny Parkes

Time for another appointment with the Doctors at the Larkford Surgery.

Whilst Dr Holly Graham is on maternity leave and struggling to make everyone else understand that is she just not simply the mother of two sets of twins, she is also a wife, a friend and a doctor. There must be a better way to transition back to working than everyone seems to be suggesting at the moment.

Perhaps talking to her patients on a normal level and with no pressure is the only way to go, but when an offer of an feature on a radio show and also a fixture at the Rugby Club, it seems that Holly’s options are even greater than she first thought.

Dr Alice Walker and her amazing dog Coco are still working their magic but it seems that Alice has also brought a fellow doctor and friend Dr Tilly Grainger along who is struggling to fit in not just in the village of Larkford where hearts are being broken by the day, but as a doctor in something other than the war zones she had been used to. Is there a project that Tilly can call her own and something where she feels she is making a difference?

Dr Dan Carter and Practice Manager Grace are facing some difficult decisions and it seems that their future is decided for them when someone captures Dan’s heart.

Along with this we have all the other wonderful characters which have featured in previous Larkford novels, the wonder that is Elsie, hellbent on being the centre of attention wherever she may go and of course Holly’s friend Lizzie and former rock star Connor whose life is about to be changed once again.

This book like the previous three is a complete joy to read. You are completely immersed in the world of Larkford and the residents and of course the patients as well as the doctors at the surgery. There are some real tough topics dealt with in this book. You might need to harden your heart or just let the tears flow as I did. Nothing is off limits. It is both joyous and sad in equal measure.

What makes this series if books stand out is the clear detail that the author has gone into to understand the workings of a local GP practice, a practice which I am sure like many around the country is suffering from an overload of paperwork, government targets and cut backs on the things that really matter like time with the patients. I don’t know how Penny Parkes does it but she has brought a ‘hot topic’ into fiction and added a dose of characters and created a series which I think could run and run.

I prescribe this series of books to everyone.

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

Snowed in at the Practice is out now. 

 

 

Books

Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry

 

Lucy fell in love with Rosemary Cottage when she was a girl, plundering berries from the garden in fear of the owner catching her and her friends. It was her dream home.

Years later when her life takes an unexpected path, Lucy can buy her dream home and embrace life with her children and husband in the countryside and run a B & B. However, when a tragic accident leads to a completely path again it seems that there is only one more year left at Rosemary Cottage and life in Burley Bridge.

James is back in Burley Bridge as it appears his father needs some care as he has exhibited some rather worrying behaviour. James also recalls playing in the garden of Rosemary Cottage as a child and playing with Lucy so he is shocked to see her again.

James patience and kindness though is what Lucy needs right now as she tries to decide whether she should really leave her dream, Rosemary Cottage and go back to a world that seems to have left her behind.

This is a welcome return to Ellen Berry’s series of books featuring the village of Burley Bridge, but you do not have to visited before to get a feel for the place. Familiar faces soon become your friends and the author draws you right into how a village can help a newcomer as well as a stalwart resident.

A nice comfortable read which is not full on Christmas but is more to do with love and sorrow, grief and happiness.

A book with lots of positivity amongst all the sadness and a lot is packed into the pages, that the story skillfully takes you over a large time period in a clever way without ever feeling bogged down or dragging a plot out for the sake of it.

I hope one day we perhaps return to visit Rosemary Cottage as I feel there is more to know about Lucy and James. The ending was left very loose……

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

Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane is out now.

Books

Winner – A Perfect Cornish Christmas

Thank you very much to everyone who entered – if you have entered more than once then I have just counted you as one entry.

So I can reveal the winner is (thanks to a random name picker site on the internet)

 

Well done!

I will be in contact so I can get the book to you, hopefully before Christmas! Happy Reading.

Thank you again to everyone who stopped by my blog and took part.