Books · Jottings

November Roundup

Well only one month to go in 2020, thank goodness though I don’t think we are out of the woods just yet. But November was a month where I hit my annual target of 100 books – such a satisfying feeling and also a month where I have just simply read and not worried (well not too much) about the never ending netgalley request list.

So what was on my November shelf?

Only one Christmas book, I think I reached peak Christmas in the previous couple of months but Anne Marie Ryan – The Six Tales of Christmas was a quiet tale reminiscence of previous American styled Christmas novels that I read. It’s message was very lovely though.

Of course snow for many equals Christmas but the snow in Catherine Cooper – The Chalet was a lot more sinister and this debut thriller novel is one to watch out for. Excellent and kept me hooked quite happily and made a change from all the ‘nice’ books.

To contrast the snow what better than to go back to summer with Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Summer where I caught up with old friends and made some new ones on the lovely bus in Cornwall and with an added dollop of actors as well as clotted cream this made for a great read. I rushed out to buy the next in the series and have started that within the last couple of days of November.

Cornwall was the setting of Raynor Winn – The Salt Path a book leant to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it. I did. I knew nothing of the South West Costal path and it was a joy to read an ‘actual’ book where I could quite happily flick back to the map at the beginning so I could see locations and get a sense of place. One of the downsides of kindle reading is this ability. Wild camping is not something I would want to do, but certainly walking and in Cornwall is a place I would like to be.

More Cornwall was featured in Emma Burstall – A Cornish Secret and Emma Burstall – The Girl Who Came Home to Cornwall. The latter of the two novels I had on my kindle for ages meaning to be read, but knowing it was book five and I had omitted to read book four and it turns out I bought that ages ago to. Anyway, enough of the procrastinating as I know I enjoy this author immensely so I just went from one to the other and it was delightful to just keep reading about the same place, same characters like watching a continuing drama without the break. I do wonder if Emma Burstall has any more plans for Tremarnock.

Now as there are six Mitford sisters, I know that there is more to follow after Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Trial. These are really excellent novels and I got a lovely response on Twitter from the author, because I ‘got the book’ in the way she intended it to be written. I had to go and reread my review just in case I had said something insightful – well I can’t see it. But if the author is happy and then I am happy as the plots of all of these books are great and really tap into my love of history.

Feeling rather ‘out of sorts’ about many things, like many people across the globe no doubt. So I picked up Ben Schott – Jeeves and the King of Clubs again this was because I got the latest Schott novel featuring Jeeves and Wooster through netgalley and realised I had not read the first of these homages. It was spiffing, tip top and everything you would expect from Wodehouse and I have read many over the years. It was a sheer delight to be back in their world and I rush to read the latest and go back and relieve some of Wodehouse’s best. My heart was fair cheered.

Not a bad month overall and I made a dent in some old books on my netgalley list as well as reading some ‘actual’ books, I really much prefer this way, but the kindle has let me read so many more I probably would not have read. It’s a conundrum for many an avid reader I am sure?

So what was on your November shelf? Any plans for December?

Books

Parish Notices

I hope you are all well in your part of the parish? Trying to stay upbeat and smiley in this part of the parish, especially as it seems that there are changes (and not good ones) on the horizon. I don’t want to bring everyone down with that and to be honest, I am exhausted thinking and discussing it. So what better solace than some books.

You might have missed some of these in recent months

London. Rush Hour.

Seven people started their day thinking it was going to be what they knew.

What they did not know was that they would never get to work.

Seven seemingly random people stabbed.

What connected them all?

Full Review here

The reader is treated to a skilfully written novel, the clues are all there, and whilst I had the wrong person for a while, I did have the right reasons but the most obvious simply passed by Susan Ryeland as well as me! If the lead character can be fooled as much as the reader – the author must be on to something.

A must for all fans of great murder mysteries.

Full Review here

In a retirement village where the facilities are seemingly far superior than your average holiday resort, there is plenty to keep you occupied with various clubs, fitness activities, visits and committee meetings. Just a word of warning, do not park where you shouldn’t!

Much will be made of this book simply because of who it is written by. Richard Osman has a very acerbic wit which is evident in this book and for me it resembled a Wodehouse novel in parts, very character rich. There are plenty of references to typical British places, products and behaviours and it very much centres the setting as well as the plot in that of a British cosy crime novel.

Full Review here

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.

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.

Full Review here

I promise you there is no reason that I appear to have been on some sort of killing spree with my reading but there is more to come…..

Making her way home through a blizzard, DCI Vera Stanhope comes across an abandoned car, the door open, the driver clearly gone but in the back a small boy.

By nature of the setting, the wilds of the Northumberland setting and the fact that it is December, Christmas is round the corner it is a dark book – the unknown is a dark place as is revisiting parts of Vera’s past which have an affect on perhaps the way she deals with the investigation and all of the potential suspects.

Full review coming to soon to this blog.

The reading has taken a lighter turn as the Christmas books are stacking up fast and I am after some joyous, happy reading for a while.

How’s things in your parish?

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

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes – Trisha Ashley

Marnie Ellwood has been running away for the last five years, from garden to chateaux and back again in France, Marnie feels that it is probably the right time to settle somewhere more permanent with a future.

When a job comes up in Jericho’s end as a gardener with accommodation thrown in too, it seems to good opportunity to miss. Apart from one thing, it is a place where her mother says she never should go to. It has too much history for Marnie’s late mum, but she does not really know why. She takes the job anyway, what possible harm could it do?

Settled into a lovely little place she can put down roots and with Elf and Myfy looking out for her as well as a rather dominant cat called Caspar. Marnie gets to work not just only her landlady’s gardens, filled with lavender bushes and rambling roses but also the river walk and waterfalls where some mysterious sightings have been in seen in the past and a place which an rather ethereal sense of calm over it.

Add to this Marnie is also to work next door in the ‘big house’ and it turns out the owner and renovator of the garden and house is a fellow student of Marnie’s from a long time ago, Ned Mars. There is a mystery to the rose garden and the whole place and Marnie throws herself into her gardening role and suddenly finds the peace she was perhaps searching for those years she was away in France.

With her friendship with Ned very much established, embracing life in Jericho’s End seems a given and Marnie finds she is in a place to stay. She is near her sister, she can enjoy the quiz night in the local pub and most of all she can enjoy gardening.

However it seems the ghost of many pasts are still lurking around Jericho’s End and they have an uncanny way of finding Marnie and making life rather interesting for a while.

Will Marnie restore more than a garden in Jericho’s End?

This is a wonderful delightful descriptive book from Trisha Ashley, she just gets better and better with each book. Whilst I was a bit lost with all the relatives from long ago and how they all fitted together with Ned and Marnie I was soon swept away with the restoration of the garden. It is the sort of place I would want to visit and secretly the sort of project I would love to be involved in. I could easily transport myself as someone who is looked after by a whole village as Marnie is.

If you are familiar with Trisha Ashley books then you will recognise familiar characters on the outskirts of the plot and Jericho’s End, it makes you feel as if you are part of that wonderful storytelling Trisha family.

Perfect for those who want to garden without getting your hands dirty and perfect for those who just want to escape – blissful reading awaits you.

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

The Garden of Forgotten Wishes is published on 23rd July. 

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!

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.