Books · Jottings

May Roundup

And all of a sudden spring and summer arrived into May. With almost gay abandonment, I shed all the extra layers keeping me warm, the heavy shoes and the winter blankets and found the shorts, the pasty legs and the thinner clothes.

The reading has just continued at a gentle pace. Only a little twitch now and again, that I am way behind if I want to hit 100 by the 31st December. All of the reads for this month are kindle and actual netgalley reads. The physical books I am reading is huge and fabulous, but I am savouring it almost too much, to speed through it.

I did speed through Christie Barlow – A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse, the latest in her series, because I am always so delighted to be back with friends in a place I have grown to know over the previous books and want to visit. (Although I do realise it isn’t a real place) Trouble is when you zoom through the latest, you have so long to wait until the next.

The only other latest book in a series read in May was Merryn Allingham – Murder at Abbeymead Farm which is always a delightful piece of escapist writing and even more exciting I worked out whodunnit! As with any series, each book is individual but there is a plot thread running through it all and that is what makes me keep reading, as I want to know what happens there.

Sticking with murder I found myself with Deanna Raybourn – Killers of a Certain Age which was a modern murder mystery novel from this American author. The premise was interesting, but it did lack some aspects which I found rather disappointing from an author whose historical books I have enjoyed in the past.

I then went abroad and back in history with Rachel Rhys – Murder under the Tuscan Sun a book which built tension and had bucket loads of intrigue and was a joy to read. The delightful backdrop of Tuscany was fascinating and felt like I had been transported away for a holiday. And as for the murder – well was it?

Staying in the historical period led me Liz Fenwick – The Secret Shore where she took me through a fascinating journey of maps, missing mothers with the determined and forthright Merry. I was cheering her on from the outset as she navigated war and love. Yet again brilliant writing from this author.

I admit to not understanding why some authors write books under pseudonyms, no doubt it has to do with publisher’s, the type of books they read, etc but I was delighted to discover that Annabel French – Summer at the Chateau was by an author I had read previously and whilst this book was a change from what she has normally written it was not that much of a handbrake turn in writing. However it was a wonderful read which transported me away on another trip abroad and for that I was grateful. I look forward to doing so again.

And finally Sharon Gosling – The Forgotten Garden where we are not in Scotland, but the North coast of England, in a rather rundown town which has been forgotten. Can a garden grow the place and the characters? If this author has anything to do with it then yes! Sharon’s books are an absolute pleasure to read, so layered and well written. I recommend them.

I have signed up for 20 Books of Summer again this year, in a bid to get the TBR piles down! (Ha!) And for regular followers who are wondering, I am bringing back Six in Six for 2023. We are still a small select group but growing every year, so please join in and spread the word if you can. Details to follow in the coming days.


20 Books of Summer

I have decided to bite the bullet again and join in this challenge. I was fairly successful last year with 12 books, so I am aiming high this time again but if I can land at 15 I will be most pleased.

This challenge is hosted by Cathy at 746 Books here. The challenge runs from 1 June until the 1 September and it is moveable challenge from 10, 15 or 20 books. Need to change your list, then change your list. What could be a more flexible way of getting some of the books of the shelf.

So as to my initial 20. I have taken books that were on last years list (in blue) and I have still not read and moved them onto this one and then filled in the gaps! Now will the books in blue make it off the list?

  1. Lucinda Riley – The Missing Sister
  2. Angela Thirkell – High Rising
  3. Sara Sheridan – Celtic Cross
  4. Hazel Prior – Life and Otter Miracles
  5. Emylia Hall – The Shell House Detectives
  6. Daphne Du Maurier – Rebecca
  7. Juliet Greenwood – The Shakespeare Sisters
  8. M H Eccleston – Death on the Isle
  9. Alison Goodman – The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies
  10. Ruth Jones – Love Untold
  11. P.G.Wodehouse – Jeeves & Wooster unknown title yet!
  12. Agatha Christie – unknown title yet!
  13. Robert Galbraith – Ink Black Heart
  14. Alex Hay – The Housekeepers
  15. Trisha Ashley – The Wedding Dress Repair Shop
  16. Sue Teddern – Annie Stanley All At Sea
  17. Dawn French – Because of You
  18. Heidi Swain – The Book Lover’s Retreat
  19. Penny Parkes – Maybe Tomorrow
  20. James Henry – Morning Frost

With a mix of physical books and books from my netgalley list, some quite recent, others older and a reread chucked in, I am hoping there is enough there to keep my interest.

Do let me know if you decide to join in?


April Roundup

A bumper month, I think mainly because I stopped and was able to read more and also because some of the books were perfect crackers to get completely lost in.

Oh gosh where to start, if it ever was an eclectic mix it was this month. As May is the coronation of King Charles III it seemed by default to have a certain royal flavour in some of my reading. Valentine Low – Courtiers has been a book I have dipped in and out of for a few months, since I purchased it. A fascinating insight into the ‘men in grey suits’ and the workings of the palace, the later few chapters which focus on more recent events makes you stop and wonder what some people’s motives really are.

Debut novel Megan Clawson – Falling Hard for the Royal Guard takes us to the Tower of London, and all that Royal pomp and circumstance along with some mishaps and mistakes for our main character Maggie and her Royal Guard, Freddie. Oh I wonder how much of this book is based on the author’s real life mishaps – knowing she does really live in the Tower of London.

A jubilee is something we may not see for a long while, but it is always fascinating to go back to previous ones and it is used as a vehicle for the twelfth book in the Kitty Underhay Series. Helena Dixon – Murder at the Beauty Pageant takes us back to 1935, Dartmouth and the raising of funds for a jubilee celebration for the local children. What could possibly go wrong?

Sticking with the past and back in time, I went back a lot further to the seventeenth century and Edinburgh for Kate Foster – The Maiden. Based on true events, this book was fascinating as it gave voice to the execution of a woman for murdering her lover. But was there more to it all than we know? I look forward to seeing what else this author may write.

Speeding forwards to the Second World War, which is a popular theme in a number of books I read, for various different reasons. What is always wonderful is to step away from what you would normally expect from a wartime saga novel. The latest in the Emmy Lake chronicles is no exception, A.J. Pearce – Mrs Porter Calling for me is the best of the series so far. So invested in the book, the force of Mrs Porter emanates off the page, but then so does the fight against her as well as the war. Laughs and tears in abundance in this book.

Another book which is packed with knowledge, research and thrills from the outset is Anna Stuart- Code Name Elodie, it is a follow up to The Bletchley Girls and this part of the Second World War has always fascinated me. The strong female characters and the insight goes to show you how mcuh research has been done and how much we still don;t know about what went on during those years and the impact it had to all those at the front.

Finishing one duo of books, I then have finished a trilogy with Vicki Beeby – Hopeful Hearts for the Wrens and as the war comes to an end for these women in the Orkney Isles, there is still time for the impact of their friendships to ruin the future. I really enjoyed this series and know that I can go back to her previous trilogy featuring the WAAF.

More modern thrilling literature came in the form of Hillary Rodham Clinton & Louise Penny – State of Terror which I picked up because of the input from Clinton. Having read and listened to quite a lot from her, I am always impressed by her knowledge and resilience against some pretty awful contemporaries and opponents. What if what I read in the book became a reality thanks to the power of one man. Scary. The first time reading Louise Penny, a prolific Canadian author who I may well investigate further should I be after something page turning in the future.

Another prolific author is the great Christie and with the adaptation on over the Easter Weekend, I had to read the book before I got stuck into the programme. Agatha Christie – Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? features neither Poirot or Marple and was a really cracking read, with plenty of twists and turns, and the most simple of questions – why didn’t they simply ask Evans. But if they had, then there wouldn’t have been a book! The adaptation by Hugh Laurie was much better than I was expecting and with a few little tweaks, it stayed very faithful to the book and for that I am most grateful.

I read my mum’s copy of Christie, and that was second hand when she received when she was pregnant with me. The beauty of second hand bookshops which is the theme of Stephanie Butland – Found in a Bookshop. This is the first book that I have read which has featured the COVID pandemic as a backdrop and I found myself slightly panicked by reading it, bringing back some of the more darker days. However the premise of the books is so delightful and once I had got over the poor formatting, it is a book to cherish and turns out is the second to feature the characters and I therefore need to seek out the first.

Kate Forster – Fly Me to Moongate Manor is the latest from this author. I have dipped in and out of her books over the last few years. In other words I don’t make a beeline for them if I know a new one is out. Sometimes it is nice to just rediscover the author again. This was the case with her latest. Some of my favourite things in this book – big houses, gardens, nosy neighbours and a mystery to solve from the past. The perfect escapist reading and just what I needed.

Just as quick as I am knocking these books off my netgalley list, more are being added and I am still trying to make a dent in those actual shelves too. Work does get in the way of reading, but I am hoping some extra bank holidays and with the weather getting better, there will be more reading to come.

How was your April?


Blog Tour – Coming Soon

I am delighted to be on the upcoming Blog Tour for the new Helena Dixon novel – Murder at the Beauty Pageant.

Kitty Underhay is awarding first place… to murder.

Spring, 1935. Newlywed Kitty Underhay has been enlisted by her old nemesis Mrs Craven to help organise the Miss Dartmouth Jubilee pageant at the Dolphin Hotel. Being bossed around by her arch enemy is not quite what Kitty had in mind for the start of her married life, but she’s excited to launch the glamorous show. Sparkling smiles are quickly replaced by audible gasps however, when one of the girls goes missing during the interval…

When pretty Peggy Blaine is discovered dead, Kitty can’t help but notice that none of the other contestants seem particularly shocked. Can jealousy over a sash and a diamante tiara be a motive for murder?

But when she discovers the threatening notes the young women have received, Kitty enlists her husband Matt to figure out who’s scaring the competitors. However, before Matt can speak to them, another entrant turns up dead after an apparently accidental overdose. Taking part in a beauty pageant seems to have turned into a fatal occupation!

The daring duo are sure that someone close to the girls is responsible. But can they sort the harmless face powders from the fatal poisons before it’s too late? Or will Kitty and Matt find they are next to be crowned… with death?

An utter joy! Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and Lee Strauss will fall head over heels for this utterly compelling and totally charming historical cozy mystery!

Helena Dixon is the author of the best-selling Miss Underhay murder mystery series and lives in Devon. Married to the same man for over thirty-five years she has three daughters, a cactus called Spike, and a crazy cockapoo. She is allergic to adhesives, apples, tinsel and housework. She was winner of The Romance Prize in 2007 and Love Story of the Year 2010 as Nell Dixon.

Pop back on the 6th May to see my review for the latest in this wonderful series.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2022

Again, I seem to have waited for 2023 to start and settle before I got round to looking at what I read in 2023. This must be the last roundup post to be published.

So first off, I did not reach that magic number 100: 2 short. Who knows why but do you know what I haven’t let it stress me out, I think I have read a decent amount of books and learnt not to read books just to keep the numbers up if I am not enjoying them.

The Shortest Book was Holly Hepburn – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures at 100 pages

The Longest Book was Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood at 944 pages

Of the 98 books read that is the equivalent of 30,476 pages! Of course this is all dependent on which version I save to my Goodreads list and I am not particularly fussed about ensuring it is the correct one, as I read quite a lot of advanced review copies.

As for the kindle it was 79 books and these would have been thanks to the wonder that is netgalley which is also a curse as it means I am not reading books from my shelves as much as I should.

To stick with common themes in my look back of the year we will start with:

Multiple Books by the same Author

Top spot for 2022 was Helena Dixon with 4 books. 2020 was the last year with 4 books.

3 books: Merryn Allingham, Christie Barlow, Cathy Bramley, Holly Martin, Cressida McLaughlin, Jo Thomas. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

2 books: Phillipa Ashley, Vicki Beeby, Sarah Bennett, Liz Eeles, Sharon Gosling, Molly Green, Stacey Halls, Tracy Rees, Helen Rolfe, Jennifer Ryan, Heidi Swain, Tilly Tennant. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

As you can see I go back to the authors I know and love, who will give me a great read and also comfort as well. Of course as tastes change and books are written and discovered, there are more authors added into the mix.

No Agatha Christie (well not really) in this list but there is one reread. P.G.Wodehouse – Carry on Jeeves, I really wish I had not given away my Wodehouse books I had collected years ago. These are such a great joy. For 2023, I want more rereads, I want more Agatha Christie.

What about my favourite, I really can’t say I have one. There have been some cracking good reads and I am pleased to have delved a bit back into the historical fiction/saga area which has always been of great interest to me. So here is a snapshot of those books that stand out in 2022, a mix of many genres.

I think it is good that I haven’t got a stand out book of the year and haven’t had for many. I always think that leaves a lot to live up to with all the other books out there waiting to be read. So as for 2023, expect to see more of the same I think and more of reading what I want at a gentle leisurely pace or fast and furious depending on the book and the timing.

Finally thanks must go to my readers, book blogging has changed a lot of the years and a lot more is done on social media rather than specific blogs and also with a lot more visual content, especially videos. I am grateful to everyone who pops by and reads my wittering, for the time being I will continue to read and post.


October Roundup

With only two months of the year left, I am just about on target for reading 100 books and I think it could possibly go to the wire this year. Let us no dwell on that and plough through the October books read.

Of course the Christmas books do tend to dominate in October and there is always a risk I could be all Christmas read out by the time the festive period is really upon us so I have tried to mix it up with other books as well.

I have spent Christmas in October in many places. Completing her trilogy set in Wishing Wood was Holly Martin – The Christmas Tree Cottage, where back in the tree houses we finally get to make sure that Heath the only brother not with someone, settles down and what better way with someone called Evergreen Winter. Holly Martin does manage to conjure up such wonderful settings and characters.

If treehouses are not your thing then maybe Chateaus’ are. Jo Thomas – Celebrations at the Chateau is in fact last years Christmas read and I tripped across to France and wrapped my taste buds round some delicious Apple treats. The bonus of a Christmas wedding and a restart for everyone was the perfect story to lose myself in.

You can travel with your home as well and whilst this one is full of cocktails in Caroline Roberts – Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan, it was lovely to go back and visit places from previous Roberts’ novels and see it all pull together. Plenty of snow and snuggly moments.

If you are a fan of reading then a bookshop has to be your ultimate place to be surely. Continuing her Cornish series Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop took me to a place I have visited in a previous novel and one where the new bookshop is open and a whirlwind new employee is trying to make her mark.

I don’t remember there being that many books featuring Christmas in my past reading years. Perhaps I did not pay any attention, or perhaps there was not that interest. They are the perfect escape to perhaps find that perfect Christmas that we all sort of want, but don’t want the hassle or stress. But what if Christmas was your job. In Phillipa Ashley – The Christmas Holiday, Christmas is a time of rest for the main character, where you have done all your work whilst everyone else enjoys the fruits of your labours.

Again all the books for this month have been on my kindle and via netgalley. I did pick up one book which had been on my 20 Books of Summer challenge, but abandoned it. It was just not working for me or holding my attention which meant it sat by my bed simply gathering dust. I must read more actual books in November.

As for the rest of the kindle books this month, I start with Anna Stuart – The Bletchley Girls a new author to me. This was a wonderful book, set in the fascinating place of Bletchley Park and had me hooked and is one of the best historical fiction books I have read this year.

Another author who seems to excel at historical fiction is Tracy Rees – The Elopement. It was an absolute joy to go back to characters introduced in The Rose Garden and to be immersed in those in high society and those on the outskirts. Tracy Rees has done it again.

Sticking in the historical period with the latest Miss Underhay novel in Helena Dixon – Murder on Board. Cosy mystery, not so much blood and guts than red herrings and nosy maids. I am delighted to hear that these books are to continue for a while longer.

One of the first proper Blog events I took part in was the promotion of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, now ten years ago. So I was delighted to be able to access the novella that completed this journey with Rachel Joyce – Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North. We hear Maureen’s voice, go with her on a journey so very different to Harold and Queenie’s but beautiful just the same.

On with November and some reading actual books of my actual shelves!

How was your October? Any Christmas novels I should know about?


September Roundup

I think September 2022 is a month not many of us will forget, it is almost like decades happened in those two weeks following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

I have had the honour of watching the practice of the RN Gun Carriage Procession for many years due to my work. It was somewhat sobering to know that I was now watching the actual rehearsal. The noise of the boots walking in step and Beethoven’s Funeral March No 1 almost haunted me every day as they practiced, practiced and then some more. Pretty much for around 12 hours a day.

I made the decision to go to the lying in state. Words cannot do it justice, the emotion was overwhelming. I can say it was one of the best lived experiences of my life.

At roughly 0400 – it took another 3 and 1/2 hours to reach Westminster Hall from this point

As someone who has a passion for history, I felt I have lived through a lot of it in September.

And in a seamless segue that takes me to the first completed book of September, Sara Sheridan – The Fair Botanists. Back to Scotland, back to 1822 and the potential visit of King George IV but the wonderful female characters that dominated the book and the plot as we learn about botanicas, art and of course love.

Fast forward some hundred years or so and I find myself in the Roaring Twenties in Kate Atkinson – Shrines of Gaiety. The latest from this author and one I would heartily recommend, it probably deserves a second reading as it was so rich in character and plot I am sure I missed much.

Then only a few years further on to Vicki Beeby – A Wren’s Wartime Christmas where I caught up with this saga and with a Christmas theme as well, which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the month.

Sarah Bennett – Happy Endings at Mermaids Point concludes this delightful series from the author. Taken full circle we are joined by the mermaid that caused all the bother in the first place but brought us all to such a wonderful place. To be there at Christmas, with big family dinners, lost dogs, weddings and romance is the best when it comes to loosing yourself in a book.

Losing yourself is the only way when you read Heidi Swain – A Christmas Celebration. Back for the Winter Wonderland at Wynthorpe Hall where it seems everyone comes to be healed and brought back to life. The wonderful backdrop enables you to dream about those perfect Christmases which we all perhaps hanker after. When actually the perfect Christmas is with those you love around you. This books has that in spades!

Escaping for Christmas is perhaps everyone else’s idea of fun, which is why in Julie Caplin – The Christmas Castle in Scotland we are there to see Izzy now the owner of a castle preparing Christmas for some people who have paid handsomely for it. Despite other waifs and strays turning up along the way to add to the hard work but also the fun.

Sticking in Scotland and moving from a castle to another iconic building in Sharon Gosling – The Lighthouse Bookshop. This building has a secret and when the owner dies it seems that the secret could be lost forever. A cast of wonderful characters and setting that was as strong as her first novel. An author to watch out for.

Right to the other end of the country with another final book in a series with Liz Eeles – The Key to the Last House Before the Sea. An abandoned village, a part derelict cottage and a challenge to leave a legacy for everyone.

All but one of these books was read on my kindle and it reminds me of the convenience of kindle and my ever burgeoning netgalley list but I do miss holding that book in my hands. More of that in October, I hope!


New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse – Christie Barlow

It is always a pleasure to return to places you know and love and it is the same with this the Love Heart lane series of book. Of course they can be read as a standalone novels, but with this latest one you need to know a bit more about Molly and Cam and you can see their friendship started back in Primrose Park.

We are further on since Molly and Cam met, and in the Old Bakehouse where Cam is up very early to bake for the villagers and provide them with the best baked good around. Molly is cooking another little bun – a baby for them both and a brother or sister for little adorable George. But things are not quite as contented as they should be.

Cam is holding something back, but won’t tell anyone what it is. He is reluctant to follow in the footsteps of his Great Uncle and enter a renowned baking competition but will not tell anyone why. Has he lost interest in baking? Molly?

Molly is touched by the help she gives at the homeless shelter, but she thinks it might be her hormones. That is until she meets Bree. Something she says, sets a memory off in Molly and she just can’t quite place it. When Bree seems to keep turning up seeking shelter, Molly’s instinct to provide kicks in but is it something else connecting them. And why is Cam so reluctant to be hospitable and charitable?

As winter sets in and snow arrives at Heartcross it seems this little family at the bakehouse is struggling with their own blizzard whilst the world gets whiter outside of their front door. Heartcross is cut off, so it seems the community is going to come out and support each other as you would expect. Here it is where you get to meet previous characters from the series and it is always great to catch up with them.

When a thaw sets in and some truths are revealed it seems that perhaps the perfect beginning is now here. Or course it is never going to run smoothly is it?

This is a book to devour as it is full of warmth as well as enticing descriptions of food! Somehow Christie Barlow seems tackle some tough issues with skill and empathy and weave them into a story with tact balanced out against all the humour that also comes with her novels. Being in Heartcross is a joy and being there with loved characters within a great community is even better.

A series which I can see turning into a modern day saga worthy of Sunday night television dramatisation.

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

New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse is out now.


20 Books of Summer – Challenge Over

It had been such a long time since I had joined in any challenges but when I saw this one I thought it might be time to get back on the challenge roundabout. This felt like the perfect one with too much pressure.

My list below with links to reviews where they were part of netgalley requests

  1. Lucinda Riley – The Missing Sister
  2. Sara Sheridan – The Fair Botanists
  3. Angela Thirkell – High Rising (Replaced Sara Cox – Thrown as read before start date)
  4. Richard Coles – Murder Before Evensong
  5. Jennifer Ryan – The Wedding Dress Circle
  6. Gervase Phinn – At The Captains Table
  7. Ann Cleeves – The Rising Tide
  8. Celia Rees – Miss Graham’s War (Did not finish)
  9. Fern Britton – The Good Servant
  10. Mick Herron – Slow Horses
  11. Gill Hornby – Miss Austen
  12. Anne Booth – Small Miracles
  13. P.G.Wodehouse – Carry On Jeeves
  14. Stacy Halls – The Foundling
  15. Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood
  16. Jennifer Saint – Ariadne
  17. Cathy Bramley – My Kind of Happy
  18. Sue Teddern – Annie Stanley All At Sea
  19. Dawn French – Because of You
  20. Freya Sampson – The Girl on the 88 Bus

I managed 12 – with the 13th book The Fair Botanists completed a couple of days past the 1st September. And I also did not finish a book because it was not doing anything for me, rather than power through and not enjoy for the sake of the challenge I stopped. So refreshing.

Because of the weather, my holiday and probably my laziness I read the most of the books that were on my kindle first before I moved to actual books. Which is why of the ones left that I didn’t read are still staring at me on my shelf. I think I would like to aim to have read these by the end of 2022. I will let you know how I get on.

I am not sure if I have a favourite of the ones I did read – probably Fern Britton The Good Servant, which seems all the more poignant now in light of recent events. It was a joy to go back to Wodehouse and how I wish I had not got rid of all of my books! And the Robert Galbraith is such a hefty tome in paperback, and I so want to read the next one but I don’t think I can cope with the weight of a hardback!

Other than not finishing a book, I as a bit disappointed with the new Gervase Phinn. The normal dry wit and Yorkshire humour but the story was very much pedestrian and read more like observations that having any great plot.

Thank you to Cathy at 746 Books for hosting the challenge.

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

And with a blink of an eye and a lot of sunshine, August is done! A bumper month of reading as always thanks to three weeks off work. The hot weather where the only thing to do is lie in the shade and read probably helped as well.

Let’s get the crime out the way first with Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood. I waited until the paperback came out before reading this as it is a hefty tome and I am frightened of doing myself a mischief when reading it. As good as always and had me completely hooked. Now with the latest out, I am not sure if I can wait for that in paperback or just bite the bullet and order the hardback? It is so great to be completely lost within a story.

The next in line and in the series of Hawthorne and Horowitz was Anthony Horowitz – The Twist of the Knife. As clever as all the previous ones with plenty of twists and the inclusion of the author as a character and main protagonist makes for interesting reading, even if it might make for difficult writing.

Series of crime books can be a blessing and a curse, you could say they all turn out to be very much the same, but sometimes that formula is what you need. So I think this is where I would put the book Merryn Allingham – Murder at the Priory. The latest in the Flora Steele series of books and where the idyllic village set in Fifties Britain makes you convinced that Miss Marple might pop up at any moment.

In fact she did in Various – Marple. Twelve new short stories featuring the aforementioned and all penned by current authors who keep to the mystery style and also an element of their own but with plenty of Christie to make you think you are reading some forgotten Christie works. As short stores they were perfect diversions and well written. Not sure I could pick a favourite.

The mystery of a miracle features in Anne Booth – Small Miracles as I was immersed in a convent with only three nuns remaining. Is it really a miracle or faith that these three nuns need? A joyful, peaceful escapist novel.

Peaceful is always what you might want from a holiday and even if you have to do a bit of work as well. In Jo Thomas – Retreat to the Spanish Sun, I did retreat and learnt about the food of Spain and of the warmth and sometimes coldness of the characters as I escaped. I am just discovering Jo’s novels and I am looking forward to escaping again and again.

We all know Cornwall is a popular destination for holidays in the UK and therefore it was a delight to revisit this summer myself. Well via a book or two. First up was Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday, the series has flourished as we get to visit other parts of the area and find other characters to love as everyone finds their happy ever after. With a dollop of clotted cream of course!

Then I was more weather obsessed in Cornwall with Ali McNamara – Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies. A beautiful book full of sun, rain, myth and mystery as well on the Cornish coast. Vibrantly brought to life by the author I could taste the salt of the sea on my skin as I read.

Weather is always a good plot device in a book as it can create atmosphere and also prove to be a challenge for some of its main characters. In the first I think of my Christmas ‘type’ reads for 2022 (there is many more to follow) then the latest Heartcross book fills that spot. Christie Barlow – New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse is full of snow and chocolate and would be the perfect book to read by the fire. Which seemed completely om contrast to when I was reading it in 30 degree heat!

I am always trying new authors, but sometimes it looks like I tend to stick similar authors or the same ones. Even if the previous book has disappointed or not hit the mark, I have gone back time and time again. I think I need to stop doing this. I felt this way about Helen Rolfe – Finding Happiness at Heritage View, part of a series which I did not know about until I had finished (think this was book five). It was nice and an okay read but I wasn’t blown away by it. I always feel bad when books I read make me feel like this. Feeling bad again when I finished reading Tilly Tennant – A Home at Cornflower Cottage has made me think about whether I will pick up something from these authors again. I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with these books, it is just I have grown in my reading and grown away from them. Perhaps one day I will return.

But you do have to keep trying authors sometimes and that was why I found myself back with this book Faith Hogan – The GIN Sisters’ Promise. A book for fans of family sagas and all that sibling rivalry with the backdrop of a wild Irish landscape and a double gin! I might return to this author.

Second books are notoriously difficult so they say. I don’t think this applies to Freya Sampson – The Girl on the 88 Bus whose delightful novel which includes the cross generational friendships and the possibility of finding something you have lost. I think Freya Sampson is becoming an author to look out for.

Going back to an author can be easy as it is difficult. But it was easy with Cathy Bramley – My Kind of Happy which absorbed me from page one and had me right to the end, with the book read in less than 24 hours. Something just appeals with the writing, the characters, the depth of plot and in this case all the flowers. It is funny how some books hit the spot and others just don’t.

As well as returning to authors when a new book arrives, there is also the joy in rereading some. I very rarely do, because of so many books to read I suppose but I did treat myself to P.G.Wodehouse – Carry on Jeeves which was a sheer joy. I did have all the books and gave them away years ago which I regret. These are a delight to keep going back to and might get another one to indulge in soon.

So that was August, 15 books apparently giving me a good place to be going into autumn and the final stretch of 2022 and the goal of 100 books. Do tell me what you have been reading, anything I have missed? And also do share about how you feel about books from authors you have previously enjoyed but are just not hitting the spot now?

In the meantime, let’s get cracking with the Christmas books (yes it is coming!)