April Roundup

Woosh and there went April! I thought I was going to get ahead with my reading and I suppose in some ways I did, but really I should stop requesting good books on netgalley, so I only have myself to blame.

I am missing holding actual books ion my hand. Although reading Agatha Christie – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd which was in a very large book which held a quintet of Poirot stories, meant I could not really hold this book up effectively without doing myself some damage, if I were to drop the book. Of course I am expanding my Christie reading but if you look out for a book I have been advertising for a couple of weeks now, this Christie story now I have read it, makes a lot of sense.

War featured quite heavily now I look back at the list that I have read. Given the opportunity to read Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls at War which I discovered to be book two, I had to go and read the first, Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls. It really is a delight to be able to read one book after the other knowing you are going to be with familiar characters and you can see their stories develop even more. Now I have to wait until the third one is published before I can revisit the shipyard.

Lissa Evans – Their Finest Hour and a Half took me into the Ministry of Information and was a rather quirky book, not perhaps as good as Crooked Heart for me but it was an interesting read.Now I am just waiting for my local cinema to put it on at a decent time for me to go and watch.

Cornwall is always a favourite of mine to set a book, despite never having been there. Liz Fenwick – The Returning Tide add to this with her new novel, but one which also touches on Operation Tiger, and reminded me of something which I knew little about.That is one of the many things I love about reading, the way it can spark an interest and you can go and find out more. This is definitely one of favourite books of the year.

Sticking with historical fiction you cannot go fairly wrong with Kate Morton – The Lake House.It is a while since I have read any of her work, as other authors have taken over but I remember the joy if escaping into such a large expansive novel. Sadly the book did not work with me this time, but I will not let that put me off reading others.

Netgalley gives me a chance to indulge in women’s fiction, chick-lit if the phrase takes you and that is how I came to pick up Jennifer Joyce – The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts. A new author to me and it was a pleasant surprise, as after a while some of the books seem very similar, but this one did stand out.

Christie Barlow – Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is another book picked up from netgalley but one where I knew the author, having read and enjoyed some of her work before. I gave to admit I am taken in by the bright coloured covers. However, this was a book which dealt with some issues you would not necessarily think would go with women’s fiction but it worked in this book, which is probably down to the author. Not one of my favourites by her, as I thought it was all a bit to convenient,  but good nonetheless.

I am a big fan of Veronica Henry and always like to read what ever is coming next from her. Her latest novel Veronica Henry – The Forever House is a wonderful read and one I did not want to finish. So to make sure I could carry on for a bit longer, I picked up the short story Veronica Henry – The Apple Orchard which is fine example of this authors work if you ever want to try it out.

So that was April, a funny mix of books when I look back, but on with May and seeing what that brings me.

Thank you to all my readers, I appreacite any of the time you spend reading the posts which make up my reading year.


The Chilbury Ladies Choir – Jennifer Ryan

In the village of Chilbury it comes as a shock to some of the residents that the choir is to be disbanded because of war. Not because they could be in danger of becoming a target with their singing, but because there is no men left in the choir.

However, the women left behind in Chilbury have very strong views and they have an important place and a role to play. When Primrose Trent arrives in the village, she decides to restart the choir and The Chilbury Ladies Choir begins.

This book features the women of the choir, those from all different backgrounds, different ages and in some cases different agendas. Mrs Tilling is the local midwife, and as the book opens, two births are imminent, but with death already surrounding them due to war, it seems that the births are not going to be straightforward.

Sisters, Kitty and Venetia have nothing to do apart from avoid upsetting their father. Kitty and the little Jewish evacuee Sylvie,staying with them play games and explore the countryside. Venetia is discovering that war and falling in love ar not mutually exclusive and when you find someone, they can be taken away for very different reasons. Both sisters make and impact in the choir but also the village as well.

As the choir progresses, so does the story of this village.

What  makes this book any more different from any of a similar genre. That would be in the telling of the story.

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.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir is published on 23 February. 

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

This book so reminded me of the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society that I am now inclined to dig that out and reread it. 





Victoria Wood

We have lost a number of famous (and infamous) personalities so far in 2016. Hardly any of them have been expected and it always comes as a complete shock. To be honest, I have not been deeply affected by any of them. It is a tragedy that these people have been lost to us when they brought us entertainment, music, literature and everything in between.

However, when they have formed part of your childhood, the way they featured in the background when you were growing up affects you in an odd sort of way. Ronnie Corbett, whilst always to me the lesser of the Two Ronnies, not just in size, but I remember having to sit through episodes of Sorry! when I was younger. Saturday night game shows were a staple of Paul Daniels and his magic as well, no doubt left me open-mouthed as a youngster.

But it is Victoria Wood who probably stands out for me as such a great loss. There must have been so much more to have come from her and to lose her at 62 was a tragedy.

Victoria Wood was always there on the television, I was allowed to watch whatever was on. I am not sure if I understood it, but it was hardly near the knuckle humour scattered with expletives. It was simple humour about everyday stuff that everyday people find funny and they can relate to.

It always reminds me of the humour that exists for only a special select few. There is much in my family that makes us laugh, with play on words and recalled incidents that to an outsider would not be funny at all, to those in the know though it is hilarious.

I was lucky enough to see her live twice on tour and also got to see at least three episodes of dinnerladies being recorded

The most important thing I think I realised a long time ago was that Victoria Wood did not save all the best lines for herself, she gave them to everyone else. Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston, Anne Reid, Maxine Peake to name a few.

She later went onto present documentaries with her own inimitable style. Documentaries I probably would not have watched if it wasn’t for her.

Then there was the serious drama, Housewife 49, Eric and Ernie and That Day We Sang.

Yet again she could do so much, create genius and then give it to everyone else to deliver.

Then there was the music and I know this will have been shared thousands if not millions of times but of course the Ballad of Barry and Freda is amongst the most iconic.

A genius taken from us and her family much too soon.


Appointment with Death – Agatha Christie

This is one of the Christie books which was inspired by her travels to the Middle East with her husband.

We are taken to Petra, The Red City which can be found in Jordan, with the Boynton family, four children, one daughter in law and a tyrannical mother who used to be a wardress in a prison. Hanging on their coat tails for some reason is Jefferson Cope.

In Petra we meet other people, Sarah King, newly qualified as a doctor. Dr Gerard an eminent doctor in the field of psychology, Lady Westholme a member of parliament and timid Miss Pierce a former governess.

And of course there is Hercule Poirot and he has the most significant piece of evidence which he does not know at the time when he overhears:

“You do see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?”

The she in the case of this book is Mr Boynton. The only clue on her body is a puncture mark on her wrist. It looks like poison.

The only problem is that she was in full view of everyone at the entrance to a cave, whoever killed her would have clearly been seen by someone.

Poirot gives himself 24 hours to solve the mystery by simply interviewing everyone and piecing it all together along with the evidence he already had. Could I make the conclusion before Poirot announced it. Simply no, I have yet to be able to work a Christie out.

An excellent example of Christie’s work and one I would go to if you need a strong example of her writing. I enjoyed the references to the other cases that Poirot had been involved in and the way his little grey cells are continually working and being challenged. Crime seems to follow him around as characters comment on within the novel.

Despite having seen the television adaptation in 2008/9 with David Suchet, the book is absolutely nothing like it. The adaptation deviates far from the book, so if you have seen and not read then have no fear.

I read this novel as part of the 1938 club which is being coordinated by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggy’s Bookish Ramblings

Whilst I could have perhaps chosen a book which was a bit more unique and not as well-known. It gave me the opportunity to read a Christie, update my challenges for the year and expand my Christie Reading List and remind myself why they are such great crime novels. 

I look forward to seeing what the next year could possibly be?

Have you joined in? Let me know what book you read?



Ten Little Niggers – Agatha Christie

First of all, it is not my intention to offend anyone with the title of this book. However I have chosen to start from the beginning of the book and this in fact is the original title when it was first published in November 1939 in the UK. In the US the title was changed to the one we are now more familiar with – due to the fact that nigger was racially offensive in the US. Ironically, it also meant that subsequent publications went to Ten Little Indians in the UK, to the one that the novel is known by now –  And Then There Were None.

The title although seemingly insignificant plays a part in the overall story. For those who do not know the rhyme, Christie does show it again in the book – I have taken this version from Wikipedia and it uses Indian instead of Nigger.

Ten little Indian Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

And yet I have not even touched upon the novel itself, which is said to be one of Christie’s masterpieces and without a doubt is, now I have finally got round to reading it. Remembering that it does not feature any of her well-known detectives, Poirot, Miss Marple or Tommy and Tuppence.

So what of the book, well actually how can you write a review for a book which will basically give away the whole plot and for me the simple answer is you cannot. It has twists and turns, you think you know the answer but then you don’t. Then you know the answer but you are not sure if it is the right one or not. I was left feeling bewildered but in a satisfied way. A book which Christie said herself “It was so difficult to do,” she writes, “that the idea had fascinated me.” 

All you need to know is this:

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret.

And Then There Were None was voted the World’s Favourite Christie in a recent online poll to mark 125 years since the birth of the author.

It is also in  the process of being adapted into a 3 part, BBC television drama, which is destined to hit our screens according to IMDB on the 27 December 2015.

So now I have read it, I am all ready to watch the programme and pick holes where necessary and see if they change anything of significance.


September Roundup

And yet again another month is knocked off 2015. Of course I have been reading and when I go back to work it does tend to slow down a bit, but I have made a fair good effort for September and plenty of variety too.

As you may or may not realise Cornwall has been featured heavily in 2015. I was back there with Liz Fenwick – Under a Cornish Sky* and I have to say I really do enjoy this author and have downloaded the other two I have not read to my kindle. I am not leaving Cornwall any time soon for sure.

I did not want to leave Ceylon and Gwen when I was transported away with Dinah Jeffries – The Tea Planter’s Wife*, there is something so atmospheric about the book that I could almost feel I was out there in the monsoon weather and the intense heat.

Of course I was trapped on Nigger Island with ten possible murderers in Ten Little Niggers – Agatha Christie* which is the original title of this story, but  has been changed into Ten Little Indians and then into what the majority of people will know it as And Then There Were None. I am slowly expanding my Agatha Christie reading to capture lots of her other stuff too and this is also to be a television adaptation around christmas time as well. Always good to be one step ahead.

Which is why I dug out J.B. Priestley – An Inspector Calls*. I still had the play, which I think I must have done at school as it still had my name in the front. It was one of those stories, that also my mum told me about after having seen the wonderful film version with Alastair Sim. The latest television adaption was very faithful to the book. I may write more about it soon.

There will not be a review for Joanne Fluke – Cream Puff Murder as it is one of those escapism, formulaic series of books that I read in almost great need for something fluffy and not taxing at all.

I waited patiently for Cathy Bramley – Appleby Farm* book to be published as a whole as I did not fancy reading it in parts, because I knew that I would be so immersed in the story I would be extremely impatient waiting for the next part. Which is why I am holding out for Wickham Hall.

So as September closes I am back in a dual narrative book, which I do admit to adoring and have been transported to Paris and cakes. What more could a girl on a diet need?

In one very personal narrative I am also reading about the Second World War through some personal diaries of May Smith.

*Book review yet to appear on my blog

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

So that is it then, August is done, the last bank holiday (before Christmas) has been and everyone senses a new start as we move into Autumn. A bumper month of reading as always, due to time spent away from work.

Sadly work starts again today, but I am hoping to comfort myself knowing I can come home to a good book or two.

And I read a good book or two in August. Where to start?

A book that has August in the title of course, Angela Thirkell – August Folly. I am starting to enjoy these sojourns into a gentle world and I am hoping to venture there again soon.

I know where I want to go again and that is to Tindledale, I caught up with Alexandra Brown – The Great Village Show and which I was part of such a village, but then that is the beauty fo a book to be able to take you to another place and experience it all and escape.

The sea was a major feature of reading. Veronica Henry – High Tide* is the latest novel from this author and will be published in late september. You will have to pop back and find out what I thought about it.

The best place to pop into on the beach is Fern Britton – The Beach Cabin, a short story from this author that takes us back to Pendruggan where many of her books feature now. The cabin is a place which is going to soothe the problems between Ed and Charlotte as well as their children. You can escape everything at the sea it seems.

Emylia Hall – The Sea Between Us is a book which warranted more than five stars, it is a wonderful read and another book which features Cornwall which has dominated my reading very much in 2015. It is a highly recommended and commended book!

Not Cornwall this time but Wales, in the shape of Malcolm Pryce – Aberystwyth Mon Amour*, a rather if not very quirky private detective story set at the seafront of Aberystwyth. Private detectives and there variants also featured with Rhys Bowen – Royal Blood, Lady Georgiana, 34th in line to the throne is despatched abroad to represent the Royals at a wedding, she walks into a rather odd set up.

Even in Agatha Christie – N or M?* we are staying at a seaside boarding house during the second world war. I am not sure the coast is where I want to be when the invasion could only be days away surely?

When you are wandering along the seafront you often spot a dog or two. Cressida McLaughlin – Raincoats and Retrievers* has to walk the dogs in Primrose Terrace whatever the weather.

Of course you do not want rain if there is going to be a wedding. But then Katie Fforde – Wedding Season* shows you that whatever the money you can anything for a wedding. Flowers being one of the most important things, Ella Griffin – The Flower Arrangement* has it covered for all events. Again whilst Cornwall has been a bit of theme so far in 2015, flowers have also featured as well. This is a wonderful novel and an author I hope to return to.

I do not know what it is that appeals to me about books from Irish Female authors, but like the former I also found myself with Sheila O’Flanagan – Things We Never Say* which had been languishing needlessly on my shelf waiting to be read.

Something I return to all the time is watching TV Gold in the shape of Open All Hours, Porridge and Only Fools and Horses. The main reason apart from them being excellent programmes is David Jason – My Life*. An insight into how this young and cheeky lad got to be one of the most recognisable television icons of my lifetime and maintained such a large amount of privacy that it should be respected.

You cannot go through life without making a few mistakes and you certainly learn from them. In the case of Paula Daly – The Mistake I Made*, I made a mistake and I have learnt from it. But what was the mistake, you will have to read the review to find out.

Holidays are about indulging and I have done plenty of that. Another is t hark back to a time when I read a jolly good saga and I have found these again with Dilly Court – The Beggar Maid it has kept me up late into the night because I was so absorbed by it all.

As the month closed, I was in the lovely position of being able to start a new book…….. so much choice……

How was your August?

*Book review yet to appear on my blog.


August Folly – Angela Thirkell

This is my second foray into an Angela Thirkell novel. If you want a gentle paced story which is reminiscent of days gone by, a specific period setting, where problems such as your daily help not being much good in the kitchen, or what the neighbours son is up to with a visiting female then these are the books for you and in particular this one.

Richard is back from Oxford, a long break awaits him as he decides what to do with his future. Back in his parental home, with his rather quiet father, rather worrying yet clever mother and a sister, Margaret just starting to blossom makes Richard want to seek adventure elsewhere. Especially before he has to decide on what work he is going to have to take.

In the village for the summer is The Dean family, a large family with numerous siblings, all coming and going. They live a very different way to Richard and Margaret and show them what life can be like in the summer in a village. In fact a number of the Deans turn the heads and hearts of Richard and Margaret in some rather humorous and touching ways.

However, in all villages as is a given. There is always someone who is trying to gather everyone into their fold. In this case it is Mrs Palmer, who for previous summers has always made sure a play is staged. This summer is no different and with extra people around with the Deans, it is obviously going to be the best yet. Mrs Palmer has not taken into account, the Deans.

A nice read, if any book can be as such. It starts, it progresses and it finishes. Nothing revelatory or heart stopping. Gentle reading at its best.

I look forward to reading some more Angela Thirkell as my reading journey continues over the years. 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

July is a long month, but it seems to have sped by reading wise, working wise and everything wise!

I never thought I would have read as much as I did but it seems that I have. Plenty of new stuff and familiar authors to, but it has been a female author dominated month along with a kindle one too.

Not much murder this month, but sometimes you need a break from all that and in some ways I go that from Robert Thorogood – A Meditation of Murder*. What made this even more delightful was the fact that it is based on the television series Death in Paradise, one of the few programmes I do enjoy. I hope there is more to follow at some point.

Adding a bit of mystery and some romance, was the short story Antoine Laurain – The Red Notebook* which I had seen recommended on other blogs. It was also a translated book, which is not an area I venture into much. It was a wonderful short and sweet little read.

Another short and little read, in more ways than one was Alan Bennett – The Lady in the Van*. It is a while since I have read a book so small. It is an example of the great British writing that is Bennett, and is probably only understood by those who understand are quirky humour. I will be interested to see how the film does across the globe.

So that was the male authors what about those female ones and no doubt they would be full of great female characters. No more so than Adele Parks – Spare Brides* which was the last book I finished in the month. It is a great departure from Parks normally writing and it was a book which had to be savoured it took a lot longer to read and rather an impact in a very subtle way. More about that in the review.

Ali McNamara – The Little Flower Shop by the Sea is a great holiday read and one for sunny days and even wet and windy ones. Another book this year that has taken me to Cornwall. I think I seriously need to visit one day!

Staying in the south-west took me to see Marcia Willett – Indian Summer*. An author I have read before quite a while ago and it featured some names that have jogged my memory from a while back.

And yet again, staying in that part of the world I embarked on a new author for me Claire Sandy – A Very Big House in the Country*. A number of different families all sharing a house in the country for a holiday and learning rather a lot about each other and themselves.

The book which does fit into any comfortable pigeon-hole or genre is Joanna Barnard – Precocious* it was not a comfortable book to read, but rather like reading someone’s secrets when you know you should not be – but you cannot help yourself. You are drawn in. Not quite a thriller in the normal sense, but a book which had you rather questioning everything.

A mix of the familiar and the testing in some ways. I go into August reading the new Veronica Henry which is not out until September, but more on that later!

As my work now slows down s shortly and I suddenly have surfeit of time, I will have more time for reading, as I am never going to reach my target for the year. Importantly I will have more time for reviews as well and perhaps some other posts too!

I have enjoyed everyone’s Six in Six and thank you to all those who joined in. I hope I got round to everyone who joined in. I got a lovely list of new books to look at as well as more categories for 2016.

How has your July reading been?

*Book review yet to appear on my blog.


Death Comes to Pemberley – P.D. James

One always wonders what happens after you read the final page of a story. Nothing beats your own imagination I am sure but of course other authors imaginations get the chance to grace new books.

In this one, we are back at Pemberley, Elizabeth Bennet got her man and lives a peaceful existence with her two children in the vast estate. Her favourite sister Jane is not far away and she has the company of Georgiana Darcy, her sister-in-law.

Pemberley holds a ball every year and it seems that the ball of 1803 is going to be very different. The night before a coach arrives at Pemberley, and disgorge the hysterical Lydia Wickham Nee Bennet. She has left her husband, George Wickham and his friend Capt Denney in the woods after an argument.

Shots were heard.

Darcy sends out a search party .

They find a body.

The murder and the mystery needs to be solved.

I came to this book knowing what happened as I had seen the television adaptation which was broadcast Christmas just gone. However I wanted to experience the book as it was meant to be and something about it does not quite hit the mark. Clearly P.D.James is not Austen and I actually approached the book knowing that I was not going to get an Austenesque novel. I did get a book which used characters that were well-known and a familiar setting and gave it legs to move onto a different story with a plot that perhaps James was used to – murder mystery.

It works on that level for me. I know it did not work for a lot of people. I am not a die-hard fan of Austen, I have not read Pride and Prejudice, nor have I read any of P.D. James work. My only knowledge was of the story of Pride and Prejudice and the adaptation of the book.

I enjoyed the book, it was slow in parts and it did not grip me, (probably because I knew what happened) but it is a worthy novel and if you like to read anything that is an offshoot of Pride and Prejudice then give the book a go. As long as you know what you are getting you will be fine.

It has taken me an age to review this book, probably because it took me an age to read (for me anyway). I found it scholarly and that will have slowed my reading down but I enjoyed it. I know it is a book I should have reviewed straight away as I think I would have captured more of the feeling of the book.

I will treasure my copy though as it is signed by the author and dedicated to me. (If anyone can translate for me the word after With Every ? I would be most grateful)