Books · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six – 2018 Edition

So I have brought it back for another year– the meme that if you only do one in the year, then this is the one to do. It’s normally the meme I can only manage to do.

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 six years and get a flavour then please do.

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

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

I have again added a few new ones this year.

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 2018.

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 2018 reading year!

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Books · Jottings

March Roundup

I just went back and read what I wrote about in the 2017 March Roundup, this line made me smile:

…… when so many lovely books have been appearing on netgalley. I am determined to get that feedback ratio to a better number!

Ironically I am still trying to do that, and I am so conscious of what I am asking for and also whether I am reading real books i.e. in my hand and not on kindle that nothing much has changed for March 2018!

I sort of set myself a task of reading a book from netgalley that has been downloaded more than 3 months ago, then one in the current 3 months and at last read some books of my shelves. Something makes me say I haven’t achieved this!

So what did I read – well thanks to netgalley I got Jill Steeples – Wedding Bells at The Dog and Duck, the third in the series. Having yet to read the second I of course had to go back to Jill Steeples – Summer at The Dog and Duck. I am not sure as to whether I am perhaps done with The Dog and Duck?

I revisited Castle Court for the third time Holly Hepburn – Stormy Weather at Castle Court. The more I read books in this serial format, the more I dislike them and so now I am trying to be more careful when I pick them as sometimes once you are hooked you have to keep waiting – though I rather think that is the point!

I did not mind going back to the Scilly Isles with Phillipa Ashley – Spring on the Little Cornish Isles: The Flower Farm. I think it is one place I would love to go to visit. In the meantime, the books bring the place to life for me.

I revisited Cornwall to catch up with Emma Burstall – Tremarnock Summer an author I have been following and reading for a long time – so now I am set up to read her next one.

No one likes visiting the doctor unless they have to but I could not resist making another appointment with Penny Parkes – Best Practice. 

I recognised the characters in Monica McInerney – The Trip of a Lifetime and it turns out I had read about them in a previous novel, which for me was much better than this one. As it was one of the last I finished in March, I was rather disappointed.

What I was not disappointed with was Ruth Jones – Never Greener. A real page turner, and I was always dubious about so-called ‘celebrities’ writing fiction. No need to be dubious on this occasion as it was excellent.

I have had Hazel Gaynor – A Memory of Violets on my shelf for a long while and decided I wanted something a bit more less contemporary and more historical. This book satisfied all this and I have discovered an author who I would like to read more of. Handy as I know I have one of her books on my netgalley to read list!

Something completely different was Rachel Dove – The Long Walk Back in a change from perhaps more women’s fiction that she is known for – this was a hard-hitting book, about war and the aftermath that it can create for those who are all affected by it.

Of course writing fiction about another fictional character seems rather absurd, but for some reason in Laurie R King – The Beekeeper’s Apprentice it works. This is the first in a series of books which feature Mary Russell and her tutor, a man you may have heard of: Sherlock Holmes. Not sure whether I will go back and read anymore but I know they will be enjoyable reads.

Lynne Truss – A Shot in the Dark was a good murder mystery somewhere in between the pages. A great sense of humour and irony in there somewhere, but it was not for me. It might be for you though.

And I ended the month, with a book that I have read before. Looking back I haven’t reread any books in over ten years or more. Notwithstanding revisiting childhood books. But I wanted to reread this one Mary Ann Shaffer – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The film is due out in April and I wanted to refresh myself with the story. I am so glad I did, I laughed, cried and gasped in all the same places and had forgotten what a wonderful way letters can be in telling a story.

I read the book, long before this blog was created but I did review it for Amazon so look out for the review at some point in the coming weeks. I will endeavour to write about the film adaptation too.

So that’s it for March – more of the same for April I think.

Books · Jottings

February Roundup

I don’t know about you – but I have so many books to read that sometimes I find myself just staring what I have on my actual shelves as well as on my virtual ones too and actually not getting much reading done.

When I am reading, it is a few pages at night and then my eyes close….zzzzzzz. Too much television watching I think. However some of the programmes that always race the beginning of the year are not finishing and that means I go to bed earlier, keep warm with a good book instead.

So in February I have been everywhere reading wise and the thing I can say about every book I have read is that I have enjoyed them all.

Being part of the Lynda Page – All the Fun of the Fair blog tour meant I could pick up a book by an author I have never read before and start at the beginning of a very interesting series of books about a travelling fair. This is historical saga writing at its best and a genre I love to read.

Of course I always love to read authors that I know are going to deliver on their books a simply great story and that was the case with the latest from Trisha Ashley – The House of Hopes and Dreams I am convinced her stories get better and better and I only have two of her back catalogue to catch up on now. Trouble is I will have to wait an age for a new book but in the meantime I got down to the seaside

Sarah Bennett – Spring at Lavender Bay is the first in a new trilogy and this will keep me busy throughout the year no doubt! When the weather is grey and the days short there is nothing better than reading sunshine with books like Sarah’s.

Of course in winter all you want to do is eat comfort food and what better than a homemade pie and my mouth was watering while reading Cathy Bramley – Hetty’s Farmhouse Bakery. I really enjoy Cathy’s novels but I have to read them as a whole and not in parts, as I like to immerse myself int he storyline.

I balanced out all of this nice sunshine and romantic notions with Robert Galbraith – Career of Evil, the third book in the series so far. I wanted to read it before the third television programme was broadcast. I had a week to do it and because of the excellent writing and plotting, despite the gruesomeness of the story I finished it with 48 hours to spare! I hope I do not have to wait too long before the next one is published as I love Cormoran and Robin – such a wonderful dynamic.

Short amount of books for the shortest month of the year and doing nothing to the years overall total – but I am enjoying my book choices and I hope you enjoy reading about some of them on this blog.

 

 

 

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

Been a funny month, been reading but not had the inclination to blog, then not had the time because I have been knitting and then not had time to knit because I have been working or away. February is more of the same and I cannot wait!

It has been a slow start to the year, especially when I had a week at the beginning to get stuck into some books. But finishing my challenge of 100 in a year seems a long way off at the moment.

Got really into sagas this month and was surprised with Jennifer Wells – The Murderess which had more than the average saga.

I was swept up with Elaine Everest – The Woolworths Girls a book I bought myself last year and wanting to make a dent in actual books thought I would read. Which then led me to read Elaine Everest – Carols at Woolworths so I could continue the tale. The next book is a Christmas one and although I would not normally read such themed books in February it looks like I might have to so I can keep up with all the characters that I have grown to love.

I fell for the latest serialised Holly Hepburn by accident but have read book two now Holly Hepburn – Frosty Mornings at Castle Court now I have started I am going to have to finish!

A book that I wish I had not started and should have not finished was Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle the idea of the book sounded great, the delivery of it was clever but it just did nothing for me. I was disappointed with it and with myself for perhaps wasting time on pursuing it to the end.

Sophie Green – The Inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club – this was an interesting book which took me all the way to the outback, to a cattle station, to Australia. It was a strong female character led novel and it had me intrigued about the isolation. It reminded me of another book I have read by Monica McInerney which then reminded me I have one of hers waiting to be read…….

But in the meantime I picked up another saga to read for a blog tour, a new author to me with a cracking good story to tell.

How was your first month of 2018 reading wise?

 

Crafts · Knitting

Knitting Unicorns

There is rather a niche market at the moment for anything to do with Unicorns – the list of unicorn related items to purchase is probably endless. I fell into this trap when I spotted a pattern for said knitted unicorn whilst I was at the Knitting and Stitching show back in October. I think I loved the colours and the wool more than the unicorn.

It was a really quick knit and took shape well and whilst the pattern actually has a tail, I did not include it as it just didn’t look right compared to the rest of it.

Then I foolishly thought I would make another two for Christmas presents, roughly four weeks before the big day! I got the two recipients to choose the colours they wanted – although they had no idea what they were choosing the colours for and off I knitted.

I must have been mad, the four weeks up to Christmas is one of the busiest times at work and adding that sort of pressure onto myself despite the fact that they knit up quickly was perhaps a tad risky. However the last one was knitted, stuffed and stitched together on the 23rd December and they then went on their way to await their new owners. A close friend’s daughter and daughter in law, both unicorn mad.

Luckily they remembered the colours they chose and the unicorns are now being well looked and well-loved. It does bring me such joy that something so simple as a knitted gift can mean more than a flashy one.

And whilst I am still finding bits of fluff off the wool, I have gone and done it to myself again – to knit some socks before the 15th February – luckily I have given myself about six weeks for this as the socks have a pattern and I have never knitted patterned socks before – I am onto sock two – more about that in another post.

For those that are interested in the pattern and wool it was Sirdar Touch Wool and everything about it can be found here.

Books

Books in 2017

So I did it – 100 books. Looking back over the previous years of this challenge on GoodReads I have been reading fewer books, as I have to confess that I sort of only just made it to 100 books in 2017 – I was still reading my 100th book as the clock struck 12 and the calendar went back to 1. So I have stretched the rules and snuck it into the 2017 list!

But with all reading and list keeping, it is all about what YOU want and not to be judged by anyone else!

GoodReads do a wonderful thing and you can look back at your year with some good old-fashioned statistics and all the lovely book covers – the statistics first:

The shortest book was 35 pages.

The longest book was  665 pages.

A total of 31,215 pages! I cannot possibly imagine how many words that translates to!

I did a quick count up of my own – and in terms of books read on kindle as opposed to the ‘real’ thing then I am somewhat shocked. 75 on kindle, 25 ‘real’. I know the main reason for this – netgalley. It has given me the opportunity to read lots of books, well before publication date and I have utilised it very much in 2017 and have plenty on there to read, but whilst I really need to make a dent in the amount I have requested I need to make a dent in my actual books, and remember why I enjoy reading – that physical act of holding a book, turning pages, referring back and becoming lost in a story.

I cannot promise that the statistics at the end of this year will be any different but I will give it a good go!

As for my books of the year? Oh that is a tough one but these are a few that just simply stood out for me, along with a snapshot of the review.

The use of letters, diary entries and public notices, forms a very rounded picture of the village and characters within. It is almost like experiencing the Mass Observation movement. Here was how others felt about what was going on around them in a small snapshot of the Second World War. An d whilst you may think perhaps it would be insular in its outlook, the book actually touches on problems far away from the village green and choir.

A really unique way of telling a story, and one that worked so beautifully, you could actually pick it up and read it again. An excellent debut novel. This is certainly going to be up there as one of my favourite books of 2017.

As with any Trisha Ashley novel, this is well written, the characters fully formed and developed and there is always more than one plot line weaving its way through the book.

There is so much packed into the pages.

No one knows the truth about Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926. We can all surmise from what we do know, but what we don’t know we can perhaps weave a story around. This is exactly what Andrew Wilson has done in this exciting novel, a must for all Christie fans.

Windward, 1945 – The marquee is out there on the lawn waiting for the wedding guests. Adele watches on and wonders how she has got to this point.

Windward, 2015 – The wedding marquee is out on the lawn waiting for the guests. Elle watches on and wonders how she ended up here.

It is in fact not the intervening years which complete the story it is that which has passed before.

I was transported to Elba, to the beautiful hotel, the intense heat and warmth of the sun. The sea as it was calm in the morning as Kit went to break the surface, to wake herself up, to find what she was looking for.

Star is going to have to step out of the shadow of her younger sister CeCe who since the beginning of the series I have found oppressive and claustrophobic, I was cheering Star on right from the start.

…Star has an address of a book shop in London and the name Flora MacNichol, a small black figurine and the translated quote ” The oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow”.

the skill of Lucinda Riley as a creator of wonderful dual narrative stories comes into its own. We are transported back to Cumbria, to the turn of the century where the Victorian Era had been only over for about 8 years and to a young lady who is determined not to marry, to not become anything of note in society but to enjoy her artistic talents and her small animals that have become her pets and to live near her idol, Beatrix Potter.

I have never been a fan of self-help books, but if they were all like this then I would be reading far more!

If you are not a fan of Sarah Millican then this probably isn’t your cup of tea. But if you are then, grab a large slab of cake, a mug of tea and find out how to be champion or in my case more champion than I already am!

 

Dee Blackthorn is ruthless when it comes to the corporate business world and she strives for one hundred percent success. She works hard and that is all she does, there is no stop, there is no pause. Dee lives for her work.

That is until one day she finds herself without a job and back living with her brother, JP. Suddenly working all the time is not the priority.

So there you go, a selection of some of my favourites. I think looking back on the year I have stuck to favourite genres – contemporary women’s fiction and good old fashioned sagas. I have simply been reading for pure enjoyment and I intend to do the same for this coming year.

I hope you will continue to read with me in 2018.

Happy New Year.

 

Books

December Roundup

There we go then – December done and dusted with (well depending on when you are reading this of course).

It is time to reflect back on Decembers reading and see where it took me – into Christmas quite obviously!

I finished the lovely Canal Boat story I started earlier in the year with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Starboard Home. 

I also caught up on another author I read this year with her Christmas story Karen Clarke – The Beachside Christmas which was the best out of the trilogy she has written.

My favourite Christmas book was Heidi Swain – Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair I have loved all the books that I have read so far from this author and delight in the fact that I have two more to catch up on into the new year. This really is a Christmas feel good novel to lose yourself in completely. I so wanted to be apart of it.

I fell into the trap again of picking up what I thought was a short story only to find it was part one of four books. Grrr! Trouble is I fell for the cover of Holly Hepburn – Snowy Nights at Castle Court and didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Never mind, I have preordered the next three and only have myself to blame. Although I did resist another part one on netgalley. Serves me right for being smug about it!

I came across Samantha Silva – Mr Dickens and his Carol on The Book Trail blog and it sounded an interesting read – a bargain on Amazon for 99p (still is as of this post) and if you are a fan of Dickens this makes for an interesting concept about how the story of A Christmas Carol came to be. I wish I had discovered it earlier in the month as I would have gone ahead and reread the said book. It always seems strange reading it at any other time of the year!

With all this ‘nice’ christmas feeling books – i needed something to counteract it all and so I had been lent Paula Hawkins – Into the Water. Her second novel after the momentous Girl on a Train and for me the book was a bit of a let down, second books can either be amazing or just meh. For me it was the latter option, still good but not quite so gripping.

Back to some saga, to some well trodden path and who better to fill that spot than Rosie Goodwin – The Maid’s Courage. I thoroughly enjoyed it, some say it follows the same old formula but hey if it works why try and change it when it means you can escape real life for a few hundred pages.

And so to the books of 2018 – I have had a little head start by reading Trisha Ashley – A Good Heart is Hard to Find, one of her earlier works which has been tweaked and renamed. More about that in 2018.

I end the year (and slightly cheating because I am not sure if I will actually finish it before 23:59) reading Carole Matthews  – A Million Love Songs. A discover only in the last couple of years and whilst I should go back and read some of her earlier work I am too busy reading her recent stuff – another one to look out for in 2018.

Where will next years reading take me? Where will it take you?