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

December Roundup

So another month, another year and another decade and another roundup post!

I think I did a lot of my Christmas reading in the months leading up to December and by the time I got here, I was a bit all Christmased out – if that is even a thing. However you cannot go far wrong with Heidi Swain – The Christmas Wish List, her latest novel and full of all the great things about Christmas and Wynbridge. In my dreams I want to go and live there!

Another place I would like to have lived is Bletchley Park or at least been part of something that changed the world. Rachael Lucas – The Telephone Box Library is a delightful book, full of warmth and touching on historical fiction cleverly which is one of my most favourite things. Add into that a library in a telephone box and what more could you want from a story.

Talking of libraries I was intrigued by Helen Rolfe – The Little Village Library, but was left sadly disappointed, I wanted to know what happened but I wanted to give up on the book. A previous novel I had read by her was good but now I am somewhat put off. Never mind, plenty more books on the shelves.

Including Vanessa Lafaye – Miss Marley: The untold story of Jacob Marley’s sister. This has been on my shelf for twelve months as it was one of last years Christmas presents and seemed wrong to be reading it at any other time than Christmas. So I did, just before I indulged in the new BBC version of A Christmas Carol. I think having read this, I was somewhat more embracing of this rather dark and dirty version.

Also embracing on television was the clearly big budget adaptation of His Dark Materials. These books passed me by when they first came out and I have never read anything by the author. However enjoying the programme I picked up the first in the trilogy. Philip Pullman – The Northern Lights, I started it after two weeks into the series, and soon found I was either reading then watching or watching then reading. The series clearly played about a bit with some of the plot, but I hurried through to the end and found myself not wanting to watch when I knew what was going to happen. I am rather fascinated by the whole concept of Dust, that I now need to keep reading.

Now what I understand will be developed into something for the television at some point, well the rights have been sold at least is Adam Kay’s hilarious memoirs published last year. It was with delight (although I did ask for it) to receive at Christmas Adam Kay – Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas, which can only be described as more tales from life as a junior doctor and the business of working over Christmas.

Hospitals are 24 hour places which leads me nicely onto the new novel from the author of The Lido. I was a bit late to the party with that one but I jumped at the opportunity to read Libby Page – The 24 Hour Cafe. Not sure how to even begin to describe was is a window on people watching, about why people are where they are and how they got there and where they might be going next. Watch out for it, I am sure it will be well spoken about as the ‘second’ novel of Libby Page.

In the past I have been partial to the odd saga, think Sunday night television and so chose this quite at random from netgalley Cathy Mansell- A Place to Belong. A new author to me, but someone who wove a story and kept me hooked as I followed Eva from orphanage, to farm, to city. Delightful.

So there you go December 2019. Though I am reading two books at the moment who may well sneak into this month, and therefore perhaps pop back and see if any others have made it to the list.

Edited to add Robin Stevens – First Class Murder, which is the third in the wonderful young adult series of books which are a cross between, Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie and this one especially is a homage to Murder on the Orient Express. I got the next few in the series to read in 2020.

Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It appears to have been a bit quiet round here lately, but I just wanted to pop in to say a festive hello and remind you of some festive reads which are out at the moment and perhaps some ones from the archive as well!

A Perfect Cornish Christmas – Phillipa Ashley

A moving read which eases you into your Christmas reading with great settings and great characters which capture your heart. A must for any fan of Ashley’s other works or discovering for the first time. A perfect read Christmas or not!

Starlight over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

An excellent Christmas read which captures so many wonderful elements of Christmas but the most important one – being with people you love and cherish. That is the best gift of all.

The Gift of Happiness – Holly Martin

Holly Martin’s novels are a joy to read. So heartwarming and like receiving a great big hug all through the power of a few words on paper. A Five Sparkly Christmas Star read!

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland – Heidi Swain

An excellent Christmas read and if your Christmas is normally wet, grey and miserable this is a sure-fire way of immersing yourself in a Christmas that can exist!

A Christmas Cracker – Trisha Ashley

You cannot beat a cracking good read and you cannot beat Trisha Ashley to deliver such a read. This latest Christmas novel has everything in it to while away a Christmas Afternoon on the sofa with copious amounts of tea and christmas cake snuggled right under a blanket as you absorb yourself in the story.

In other news I have also completed my challenge of 100 books with about 20 days to spare! So let us see what the final number will be by 31 December.

I will need to turn to my favourite books of the year soon but in the meantime on with more reading……

*I have received these books in exchange for an honest review and I receive nothing in payment for recommendation more than once on this blog or on any other social media channel I use. I simply pass on the books that have given me joy. 

Books · Witterings

November Roundup

You know that feeling when the end is in sight but you just can’t get there. I thought I might be able to reach the 100 I set myself as I did last year in November, but I am still a couple of books to go. I may well have done it, but reading seems to have taken a bit of a slump despite some cracking good books read in the month.

Christmas reading continued apace with Liz Eeles – A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle. The final part of this trilogy saw Christmas full of hot coffee and mince pies. Delicious.

Then it was a return to the Doctors with Penny Parkes – Snowed in at The Practice, this series of books is a joy to read and they really go into some interesting depth about the survival of GP practices and what affects the medical profession countrywide.

There is nothing like one of the worst periods of history to bring you back down with a bump and a reality check from all the lovely warm Christmas wishes. There is certainly no warmth in the setting of Lily Graham – The Child of Auschwitz. However the author deals with such a moving piece of history well and with such thoughtfulness that I was immediately drawn into the story, the characters and the outcome.

More history, even further back with Julian Fellowes – Belgravia. On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo events change the shape of two families lives forever. Think Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and add in the fact that it is to be on the TV in the new year and you have yourself a real Sunday Night Drama. The book was an interesting read of class, of status, money and love.

Another book full of love was Sara Cox – Till the Cows Come Home. I admit to being a bit of a fan girl with Sara Cox. I enjoyed her standing in for the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 and I am delighted to catch her on the Drivetime show now. Her book is a love letter to her family and to how she was brought up and the experiences that have clearly shaped her and made her into the chatterbox of delights. I would love to listen to the audio book of this.

And finally a bit of cosy murder mystery, in what has been a mix of reading themes this month. Helena Dixon – Murder at the Dolphin Hotel, set in Devon after the First World War, you could almost Poirot to appear or Miss Marple as the body count rises and the red herrings are aplenty. I look forward to more from this author.

So that was November – and the trouble I am having at the moment is choosing the next book to read. I have some on my shelf waiting to be read and I am waiting until I get the time off work (only 3 weeks left to go) to really get stuck into the god stuff.

In the meantime I end November reading a book that I want to know the secrets behind two of the main characters but I am a bit loathe to be reading the rest of it to get there. I should quit but I am ultimately nosey and so need to know! And now probably you all want to know the book too!

On with December…..

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.

Books · Jottings

October Roundup

 

Here we are again, the clocks have gone back, autumn is in full swing and the wonder that is Christmas is all over the place, including this book!

Another dose of antibiotics to fell a horse were consumed and it has been a bit of an up and down time overall for this month – a lot to contend with. I can tell the reading has been affected.

Nonetheless what have I read?

Let’s get the Christmas reading out of the way first – Caroline Roberts – Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is a return to a book published earlier this year and is a delicious read if you want some comfort with your reading and with your puddings! I would like to go back and read some of Caroline’s earlier work as I think I would enjoy them.

The final part of the Bluebell Castle trilogy got devoured in less than 2 days – mainly because I want to move into the castle and be part of such a wonderful eclectic mix of people doing their own thing! Of course it was Christmas in Sarah Bennett – Starlight over Bluebell Castle and that just added to the magic even more.

Another book in a series that I have been with since the very beginning is Nancy Revell – Christmas with the Shipyard Girls. This is one of the best saga series out there and champion women in all the different roles they choose whilst the men are away at war. I await each book with anticipation and hope they continue.

It has been a while since I have read any Ellen Berry and I have since discovered that this is a pseudonym for Fiona Gibson.  Anyway I was taken to Snowdrops at Rosemary Cottage which was not quite full on Christmas as some books I have read lately.

Of course with all the Christmas and the lovely books I get the opportunity to read I do need to make a dent in what I have on shelves both actual and virtual which is why I picked up Liz Fenwick – The Cornish House, her books are a delight to read, this is an earlier work and great for anyone who is a fan of Cornwall as a backdrop for their stories.

Sue Perkins – East of Croydon was a Christmas present last year and has been sitting on the shelf. It is a record of her adventures to Asia and is a great accompaniment to the series she has made which I think are great fun to watch. Her humour is very unique and British and I think that is why she makes a good travel reporter as her delivery is spot on.  All read and another gap on the shelf!

As is there from Milly Johnson – The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew which was a recent buy and I have dipped in and out of this authors novels, as my whim takes me. This was quite powerful stuff and very apt for our current climate. I was rooting for Mrs Mayhew from the beginning and horrified that the people she was having to live with and deal with really do exist. We do not know what goes on behind closed doors.

Not knowing and suspicions leads me nicely into Agatha Christie – The Pale Horse which I think will be the BBC Christmas adaptation this year. I have seen then bizarre version with Miss Marple in (she does not appear in the book) and so I am intrigued as to how this will be portrayed. I wanted to read the book so I know I could do a good compare and contrast exercise with it. If you strip back the suspicions and the unknown – this is a really good mystery and a good example of Christie’s work that doesn’t feature her two main protagonists.

So that was October, I finish it reading Lily Graham’s new novel which is moving, powerful and heart wrenching that I have had to ration myself. So I picked up Belgravia, again sitting on my shelves for a while as I see this is going to be on ITV next year. More comparing and contrasting.

On with November.

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

And there goes August in a blink of an eye and eighteen, yes eighteen books later! I think that must be a record for me and I am not really sure what I can put it down to.

Well three weeks off work probably helps as does it being too hot to do much else that read. Added to that being away and not having to worry about cooking the dinner and washing the dishes meant even more time to read. But enough of how and why – what have I read!

Where to start as this month has also been the month that I have picked up the most physical books in a long time, as opposed to reading them on my kindle. This started with Agatha Christie – The Secret Adversary which had been languishing on my shelf for a while and it was one of the books chosen for Read Christie 2019 for the month of July so I thought I would get along and read it and tick another one off my Christie List.

Another book on my shelf that has been there a while was Tom Winter – Lost & Found. I had not lost it but found it again and decided it was time I got round to reading it. It still captured my interest from the first moment I picked it up and the gentleness and tragic story that unfolded was wonderfully written. I will look out for this author again.

Clearing the bookshelves again with a chunky one this time – Robert Galbraith – Lethal White. I got the hardback copy for a Christmas present last year and thought I better get round to reading it. Oh how I wished for the paperback version – still a chunky book but perhaps not as dangerous as a hardback. That said I was hooked and dragged it away with me and for the first day I was engrossed enough to keep reading it as I wanted to get up to date with Cormoran Strike and Robin. Now I am and I am ready for the adaptation – starting to be filmed according to Holliday Grainger (interviewed on Radio 2 with Zoe Ball in August). Not sure how long we will have to wait for another book though.

There are some definite gaps on my bookshelves now especially when I picked up Katie Fforde – Recipe for Love. You are always guaranteed a good story with Katie Ffforde and this was no different as whilst I had read a short story featuring these characters I had not understood how we got to the point. It was great to back to the beginning and see how it all started. I am slowly catching up on her oeuvre and spotted an unread one in a charity shop so snaffled it up for when I want something to lose myself in.

Maeve Haran – In A Country Garden was an author I had not read before and I was intrigued by the cover and the premise of the book so picked it up to make another dent in my bookshelf. A laugh out loud book about growing old and coming together to help each other. Not an author I might pick up again but it was a pleasant diversion.

Despite the gaps on my bookshelves there is still plenty to choose from but that doesn’t stop me buying more – well I have to fill those gaps with something! I am not a big fan of my local Waterstones, the books seem to be getting less and less and the other stuff more and more. However, I came away with enough to keep me occupied. Some before I even got out of the shop. Amanda Brown – The Prison Doctor had me hooked when I nipped to have a coffee and a cookie as a treat (well I was on holiday) and finished within twenty four hours, passed to my mum who ploughed through half the book in one afternoon in the garden. Its brutally honest tale was rather like watching “car crash television” and I forever grateful that there are people who do these jobs. These types of books are either a hit or a miss. This was a hit.

From Prisons to Schools with two books I picked up from the children’s section – Robin Stevens – Murder Most Unladylike and Robin Stevens – Arsenic for Tea. School girl tales which I spotted when scrolling through some website and I was intrigued. Think Enid Blyton meets Agatha Christie and you are already halfway there. I picked up book three at the same time but have yet to allow myself to read it. A bit of a risk but still and I am delighted to discover that there are another five plus short stories to catch up on. The covers are great and colourful, the illustrations are top notch and in fact they are totally spiffing stories!

Talking of murder and being ladylike leads me to the next Mitford sister in Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Scandal. This is the third novel and therefore third sister, Diana is the main character. These are really engrossing stories and you forget how much society overlapped in the early part of the twentieth century and that some these names are still known today.

Now if you mention Ann Cleeves to me, I might say wife of Henry VIII but also Vera the great character she created and brought to life by the sublime Brenda Blethyn. You also might think about Shetland as well. However now we are going to have someone else to talk about in – Ann Cleeves – The Long Call. DI Matthew Venn is the new detective on the block and we are all the way down in North Devon. A man’s body is discovered not far from Venn’s home and a vulnerable adult goes missing. Can they be connected in any way? Even more excitingly this has been optioned for television and we will have another detective series to enjoy over and over again.

Still with me – just over halfway now!

A holiday would not be a holiday without some treats and this book is definitely one of them – Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Bus. Normally released in parts I find Cressida’s books make much better reading as a whole and this is no exception. Who would not want to traverse Cornwall in a bus eating scones and clotted cream?

Talking of Cornwall took me to Laura Purcell – Bone China. Well written and with some fascinating elements however, the plot was too fanciful for me and my rational, logical mind always fights such things. The second of this authors books I have read and have felt the same.

Perhaps it is too fanciful for a woman to run off and join the Navy. They can nowadays although they are still very much in a man’s world. But what if it was over 200 years ago and the Navy were off to fight a war. Beryl Kingston – Hearts of Oak, is a reissue of an earlier novel and tells such a story of a women looking for husband as he is surreptitiously press ganged into Nelson’s Navy. Yes that Nelson and yes that battle. As a Portsmouth girl, the places and the local stories resonated with me. A great piece of historical fiction which has some fact woven into the story.

As well as making in dent in bookshelves in shops and home, there are some older requests on netgalley for which I have yet to get to. One of them was Rachel Burton – The Many Colours of Us, now having read it I do not know why it took me so long and why I have not perhaps caught up with her more recent work. An emotive story which you made you see all sides of events and the characters within the plot and you can see how many colours make us all up.

We all have different stories to tell and versions of ourselves but when Anna Darton runs away from home  she needs to reinvent herself and so she does in Joanna Rees – The Runaway Daughter. It is 1920s London and you can be anything that you want to be but your past is always in the shadows and sometimes cannot be outrun.

The past is a funny place to research even more so when it gives you clues to your own future. Katherine Slee – For Emily is a debut novel which I think is going to make quite a noise. The imagery used is carefully thought out and the quietness of the book suggests a time of grief and rediscovery for all.

New beginnings are common themes for many books and in Rachel Dove – The Fire House on Honeysuckle Street this is no different apart from the fact that both Lucy and Sam are starting again and they have to move forward no matter what. The latest from Rachel Dove’s books set in the fictional Yorkshire place Westfield.

And finally……what better place to start reading about Christmas in August than with Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Christmas. This book was not overtly Christmassy and had just enough festive cheer and tragedy that was needed to make a very interesting story come to life. No more about it though – you will have to wait a few months to read my review!

Thank you for making it thus far and popping into my little reading world.

I hope you enjoyed your August, I certainly did mine and now as I look to going back to work tomorrow I also look forward to seeing where my reading might take me next.