Books

April Roundup

Well that was April, it seemed long and no doubt many people felt the same way. But enough about that what about the books. I did think I had lost my reading momentum and that having a sudden abundance of time to read I wasn’t going to but I think that was a mere blip and I simply chose the right books for reading.

Which is why this month was lucky enough to feature some of my favourite authors. Veronica Henry – A Wedding at the Beach Hut is to be published in May and was a wonderful read which took me to the beach and gave a big dollop of love and laughter. A real soothing balm of a book. All of her beach hut series work is standalone so you need no prior knowledge of anything and this a great book to get to know the author.

Another given with a good story is Katie Fforde – A Country Escape, pure escape and again left with that warm fuzzy feeling which was just what the doctor ordered! This book had been on the shelf for a while and it felt even better reading an actual book and being lost in it as it did, reading on my kindle.

As had Cathy Bramley – A Match Made in Devon, escaping again to Devon and the coast, where I would love to have stayed and experienced and watched all the comings and goings of a coastal village.

Going a bit further west and you reach Cornwall with Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Escape, so many people have escaped Porthmellow or escaped too Porthmellow it is all bound to come to a head at some point. And it does in a real interesting way.

You could say these four authors write similar fiction, and they do of course. However there writing is so good that they all stand out and do not merge into one which can happen when you read similar authors all the time.

That is unless the author takes a different path. I picked up Adele Parks – Just My Luck with slight anticipation as it was a number of years since I had read one of her books and they were my first foray into more adult women’s fiction than the family sagas I used to read. I was not disappointed this book was ‘edge of your seat’ stuff and had me guessing to the end and was one of those books that left you with the question – what would you do?

I have never read any of Sophie Hannah’s normal books for want of better way of putting it, but I have devoured her Poirot ones and so to catch up again with what I had on my shelf I picked up Sophie Hannah – The Mystery of the Three Quarters. Of course no one writes like Christie but this pretty damn close and a really good mystery to get into – red herrings and all!

Liking a mystery and having seen the BBC adaptation repeated over Christmas (I think) and also been to see a theatre production of a radio play of it. I thought it was about time I picked up and read John Buchan – The Thirty Nine Steps, it really has a pace to it and I felt I was being pursued as Hannay was in the book, I admit to being a bit confused with the who was who and what was what and the book could probably do with a rereading in years to come, but this is definitely one of those books I think everyone should read and see how thrillers have moved on since this was written over 100 years ago!

In a more sedate manner it is has been a joy to discover this series of books and a joy to pick up Robin Stevens – Jolly Foul Play, back at school and Daisy and Hazel seem to be discovering more bodies, this time the head girl. It does sound like jolly foul play to me but then no one liked the head girl apparently.

Recently having discovered Erica James books I was given the chance to read Erica James – Letters from the Past and whilst it featured characters from a previous unread novel, it was a great family story which was full and swept you away. I am definitely wanting to read more Erica James.

And only one new author to me this month – Jane Johnson – The Sea Gate again I was taken to Cornwall with this dual time narrative. A big house, a mystery and a war but is that in the past or in the present and it seems there is only some distant relative to uncover the truth.

Not a bad month, all things considered. I have found a rhythm of having a current or upcoming book on my kindle and one from my shelves as a physical copy so I can flick between the two. They need to be fairly different though as I can get muddled especially if they are set in similar plcs – Cornwall being a prime example.

So how has your reading faired? More or less? Or just the same?

 

 

Books

The Forbidden Promise – Lorna Cook

Second novels can sometimes suffer from sort of ‘syndrome’ not quite as good as the first, the most difficult to write, sweated over for months and months on end, massive edits and rewrites and never quite reaching the pinnacle of the first novel.

In the case of The Forbidden Promise this suffers with none of these, though I am unsure if the author suffered any of the aforementioned symptoms. For me this second novel is better than the first (and that was good) and shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters.

Present day. Invermoray House in Scotland. The current residents of the home, Liz and her son James are struggling to make ends meet and the only way is for the house to be made to pay  its way. A Bed and Breakfast seems a good idea with some typical HIghland pursuits for any guest that might fancy it.

Kate is famed for her PR skills and that was her previous role in London but when an incident leads her to want to hid from all she knows she takes refuge in a job at Invermoray House. Intrigued by the mystery of the house she does some research to discover a family bible with one of the names crossed out – Constance McLay.

1920. Invermoray House. Constance McLay’s 21st birthday party. War has yet to really touch them so far north, it appears nothing has changed. But war is coming in many forms as young men, including Constance’s brother and his friend join up and the estate workers go to fight for their country.

With the excuse of an headache, Constance escapees her own celebrations and wanders down to the loch.

There she sees a spitfire, dive and crash into the loch. Instinct kicks in and she saves the pilot and with one sweeping gestures promises to keep him safe in the abandoned ghillies cottage. However Constance finds that this promise is hard to keep.

As war starts to touch Invermoray House more directly, Constance finds that she is torn between her heart and her head.

Some eighty years later as Kate tries to find out more about Constance she also finds that her heart and her head are working independently of each other.

As the plot goes back and forth you start to form a picture of what life was like for Constance and also how it is perceived by Kate, trying to find out more about her, as if you were being told the same story from different perspectives.

What also holds the book up as excellent is the fact the author uses the landscape to be as much of a character as the characters themselves. This adds weight and depth to the plot and kept me hooked as I turned the pages wanting to find out the truth, the secrets, the lies and the promises that were made.

Lorna Cook is fast becoming an author you need to look out for.

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

The Forbidden Promise is published on the 19th March. 

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.