Books

The Thursday Murder Club – Richard Osman

In a retirement village where the facilities are seemingly far superior than your average holiday resort, there is plenty to keep you occupied with various clubs, fitness activities, visits and committee meetings. Just a word of warning, do not park where you shouldn’t!

One of the clubs is the aforementioned title The Thursday Murder Club – four members, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim. All of these four bring something different to the club as they investigate unsolved cases from the past.

Elizabeth has connections with pretty much everyone or anyone, she clearly worked in mysterious ways in her past life. Joyce is a former nurse, useful for some of the medical elements. Ron or ‘Red Ron’ as known to many is a former union leader and can antagonise with the best. And quiet Ibrahim, former psychiatrist, who works without and question and methodically to find all the answers.

Of course little do they know, that a murder is going to happen in their little world – but so it does.

Now it is time for The Thursday Murder Club to use all their wit and wiles to solve the murder or at least direct the police in the right direction.

Much will be made of this book simply because of who it is written by. Richard Osman has a very acerbic wit which is evident in this book and for me it resembled a Wodehouse novel in parts, very character rich. There are plenty of references to typical British places, products and behaviours and it very much centres the setting as well as the plot in that of a British cosy crime novel.

The book is clearly dominated by the murder story line but it also focuses on the thoughts and feelings of those in the retirement village as well. The Murder Club all have personal histories of their own and how they come to be gathered all together in this village. Osman deals with it gracefully and it adds a richness to the story.

A great fun light-hearted read which everyone will be talking about. I do hope there is more from Osman.

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

The Thursday Murder Club is published on 3rd September.

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 Break Up – Tilly Tennant


It is all over for Lara, her boyfriend tells her that it is over and that there is someone else and Lara knows exactly who it is.  Walking out of the restaurant, Lara cannot get a cab home, its raining and then she is followed home by a cat who insists on being let in and making itself at home. It seems that Fluffy which Lara calls her is the only thing she can rely on.

Trouble is Fluffy is also known as Satchmo and has ben getting regularly fed and watered at Theo’s house.

When Lara sees Theo and Fluffy/Satchmo a rather interesting dynamic develops and it seems that there is going to be a continual battle over the cat.

But as Lara is a wedding planner and Theo plays in a band – it looks like there paths are going to continue to cross and the issue about whose cat it is, is not going to go away.

It anything though the cat is bringing Lara and Theo together and no matter how hard they try, the organised Lara and laid back Theo seem the perfect fit if only they could be honest with each other.

An enchanting book which captures your heart and you can be swept along with the ‘loveliness’ of it all as the characters go through ups and downs in a “will they won’t they” between Lara, Theo and of course the cat! Add in the backdrop of weddings and you have a booked packed with romance!

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

The Break Up is published on 26 March. 

 

 

Books

Starting Over at Acorn Cottage – Kate Forster

Buying a thatched cottage has always been the dream of Clara, roses around the door, children, husband and complete contentment.

However dreams are life very rarely match.

When Clara finds her boyfriend and best friend have been goign behind her back – discovered all thanks to cottage pie! Clara realises she cannot live in the shadow of their relationship and buys a thatched cottage, in Merryknowe unseen called Acorn Cottage.

So the dream suddenly becomes a reality without the roses, the children, the husband and actually not much more else than a roof over the four walls. It is not really a dream more a disaster.

Enter Henry and his daughter Pansy, in their little van. Looking for a place to stay and also Henry is looking for a place to work – what better place than Clara’s cottage.

Rachel has walked past Acorn Cottage for almost all of her life and it was her dream to be in there too. She initially resents Clara taking away that but actually Clara is the catalyst in helping Rachel follow her dream after a disastrous start in life.

Add into the mix, Joe the good looking butcher, Tassie McIver a elderly lady with a penchant for tea leaves and predicting life and the story starts weave together some magic which kept me turning the page and wanting to know if Acorn Cottage was the place for Clara to heal and start all over.

Kate Forster weaves a lovely romantic tale into the renovation of a cottage, of the start of moving on for Clara, Henry and Rachel as well as the pull of a community in difficult times. What more could you want from a book – a cottage, a village, a bakery full of cake and romance.

A lovely read and well worth losing yourself in.

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

Starting over at Acorn Cottage is published on 19 March 2020. 

Please find below links to other Kate Forster books I have read

The Perfect Retreat 

The Perfect Christmas

The Last Will & Testament of Daphne Le Marche

Books · Witterings

February Roundup

I want to say an extra day has given me an extra days worth of reading but I feel that probably is not the case, I am on target for my 100 for the year but who can possibly be thinking about when we have only completed two months of the year.

All but one of the book was on kindle, and that makes me glad and grumpy in equal measure. I delight in holding the actual book but with so many opportunities to read great books, the kindle was heavily used in February.

Having only read The Hunting Party back at the beginning of the year, I was intrigued to get Lucy Foley – The Guest List. A great twisting turn of a novel which kept me guessing or did I really know but not want to admit it? Read it see if you think the same?

There was more murder with Daisy Waugh – In the Crypt with a Candlestick, not an author I have read before and one I probably would be reluctant to pick up again. This was very tongue in cheek but lost something in the aim of the book. I am afraid I was swayed by the cover, judged and was wrong.

And even more murder with Helena Dixon – Murder at Enderley Hall, the second in a series of novels, set in the 1930s and featuring the wonderful Kitty Underhay and ex Army Captain Matthew Bryant. This time they are in the big country house and that can only mean one thing – murder!

Staying in the past I was delighted to be back with Nancy Revell – Triumph of the Shipyard Girls. This saga gets better and better as the book goes on and I am delighted it continues apace.

Learning about the past is a wonderful pastime and one I thoroughly enjoy in many forms. No more so that picking up Sandi Toksvig – Between the Stops. Sandi has not written your average autobiography, but then she is not your average women really. This is Sandi on a journey, on a bus through London on the way she tells us about her surroundings, the buildings, the roads, the famous people and it jogs ehr memory to what has happened to her in her past. Whether that be with her mother and father and the places she was luckily to travel, to her schooldays, early days of celebrity and more recent experiences. It is a great book to dip in and out of.

Talking about taking journey’s there is one place I really want to visit (though it is not a real place) and that is Heartcross in Scotland. It was great to be back there with Christie Barlow – Clover Cottage. Here we join the local vet Rory and his girlfriend Allie who are struggling with the concept of escaping the little village and finding an adventure. Sometimes adventures can be had at home. But is that enough?

Cottages unintentionally started to be a theme in February when I was off to visit Kate Forster – Starting over at Acorn Cottage. A dream of Clara’s to live in a cottage because a nightmare when reality bites and she finds herself in a rundown cottage with no roof, no job and no prospects. But events can take an unexpected turn.

More run down properties in Lisa Swift – The School of Starting Over mean that new resident Nell has a lot to contend with if she wishes to settle into the village. Being the new reception class teacher will help but what else is distracting Nell as she makes the home of her dreams?

Fulfilling people’s dreams seems the obvious job description for a wedding planner, but Lara is not the perfect contender for that in Tilly Tennant – The Break Up. Determined to not let her personal life affect her job she throws herself wholeheartedly into weddings and looking after her cat. But then it seems someone else has been feeding the cat….

Not a bad month, it is only when I look back how I see that some of these books connect and follow different themes. I promise you it is not an intended course of action but a wonderful coincidence. It makes me wonder where my March reading is going to take me.

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

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel – Helena Dixon

The first in what is obviously going to be a series of cosy mystery books, featuring Miss Underhay.

Kitty Underhay has been left in charge of her family’s hotel – the aforementioned Dolphin Hotel whilst her grandmother goes to visit a sick relative.

Her grandmother knows something is wrong as there have been some suspicious letters sent to the hotel and she fears that Kitty may be in danger so she hires a new security officer Matt Bryant whose first job is to protect Miss Kitty.

Kitty is determined that the summer season at the Dolphin Hotel is to go without a hitch, a glamourous jazz singer is due and a masked ball to end the summer season in Dartmouth must go without a hitch and prove to Kitty’s grandmother that she is more than capable of running the hotel.

Add to this some robbery, arson, a missing jewel and a few murders everything seems to be coming back to Kitty and her past. Can she possibly solve all of this before she puts herself in danger?

This is a lovely cosy mystery very much lighter than an Agatha Christie but certainly has plenty of nods to the Queen of Crime. Red herrings and twists and turns makes it an enjoyable page turner for any murder mystery fan.

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

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel is published on 11th December. 

 

Books

A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle – Liz Eeles

There is nothing better than being laden down with Christmas shopping and seeking solace in a lovely festive cafe for a festive treat. Where better than to sample a latte and a mince pie than the Cosy Kettle in Honeyford.

This time at the Cosy Kettle we are concentrating on Becca who is the manager. An unlikely choice as she is running away from what she sees as a failure, a broken relationship, a failed job and not living up to the status of her twin sister who her parents seem more to praise.

Hiding in a coffee shop in a bookshop seems like the perfect place to be.

Becca’s wish is to reinvent herself and in the run up to Christmas she does.

Can she get the date with Logan, who she has had a secret crush on for months?

Can she learn to be more assertive and stand up in front of people to talk?

Can she be more like her sister Jasmine?

But ultimately this wish list is going to be the undoing of Becca.

The opportunity to impress Logan and her boss Flora with some savvy business acumen and change the Cosy kettle into something more highbrow and sophisticated for a corporate party leads to a few conflicts with regular customers.

Add into the mix her friendship with housemate Luke who always remains faithful to their friendship. A sister who appears to have everything, including it looks like the man Becca is in love with.

Will her wishes come true or will Becca remain true to herself and just simply settle into being the way she is?

This is a nice simple read to bring a trilogy of books about the Cosy Kettle to a conclusion, but for me this book was not my favourite of the three.

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

A Christmas Wish and a Cranberry Kiss at the Cosy Kettle is out now. 

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

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.

This book was no exception.

Back in the village of Happiness, first introduced in an earlier novel this year. From that novel Andrew and Willow are settled, and Willow’s friend Ruby decides to break away from her past and start again in Happiness.

She has only visited before but now Ruby wants to take up the opportunity to live and work there in return for a cottage and a shop. What better shop at this time of year than a Christmas shop. Ruby is all about Christmas.

However plans don’t get off to the best start when her intended shop is damaged and she finds herself next door to artist Jacob Harrington. They have met before and had made a lasting impression on each other.

This time though Ruby just wants to be friends. Jacob can cope with that, he thinks?

But fate, her friend Willow and many of the other residents seem to have other ideas.

Thrown into Christmas planning almost upon arriving in the village, it seems that Ruby and Jacob are destined to be pushed together despite their pasts and their secrets.

This is full on Christmas from the moment Ruby arrives and spots the nativity scene, I could see what was going to happen and chuckled my way through the book at this offshoot of the main plotline.

The course of anyone’s Christmas doesn’t always run smoothly and it seems Ruby’s is going to be the same. The book made me laugh, made me cry and made my heart sing with delight as I was immersed in the village of Happiness.

This is not your typical fluffy Christmas novel, it has some real issues and they are dealt with sensitivity and show how people need to move on, but perhaps have to do so at the right time and with the right support. Christmas somehow makes it all that more difficult and also special for everyone concerned.

Another great big hug of a book from Holly Martin and I think maybe there might be another visit to Happiness tucked away somewhere? I can live in hope.

A Five Sparkly Christmas Star read!

Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

The Gift of Happiness is out now