Books

Murder at Enderley Hall – Helena Dixon

This is the second novel from Helena Dixon and the second to also feature the delightful Kitty Underhay, You do not need to have read the first, but it does help fill in a bit of the background of Kitty and the dashing private detective Matt Bryant.

Kitty having discovered family she did not know she had and that they lived fairly close by she goes on a visit.

Having borrowed a chambermaid from the hotel she lives in with her grandmother, Kitty sets off on a new adventure to meet these relatives.

There is an Aunt and Uncle plus a cousin, as well as a few more assmeled house guests that make up such a house party. Her Uncle is obviously involved in some important government work and as tensions are growing in Europe, it is 1933 and things are changing, there is an air of mystery to the whole proceedings especially when some important papers go missing.

Then old Nanny Thoms is found dead at the bottom of the stairs.

Kitt’s friend Matt Bryant turns up and proves to be useful in getting to what is really going on at Enederly Hall.

Then another body turns up, guest are arrested and mysterious faces at the window and bodies in lakes all start to get a bit too much for Kitty.

Surely Kitty is not going to lose the family she has only just found?

This is a wonderful second novel and starts to fill in the gaps about Kitty’s family. It is a wonderful take on a the country house murder mystery and the growing friendship between Kitty and Matt is delightful. The added dimension of it being a history murder mystery is all the more interesting as you can see how in these interwar years, the First World War is still very much affecting people and the obvious growing threat in Europe is goign to have some sort of effect.

There is much to like about these two novels so far in the series I look forward to seeing what other mischief Kitty gets embroiled in. The series could potentially run for a while.

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

Murder at Enderley Hall is published on 19 March 2020.

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

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

This book has echoes of And Then There Were None before you even start, a remote island and invitations to certain people to stay on the island.

The event which you everyone wants to be on the guest list for is the wedding of Jules and Will.

Jules is a celebrated magazine publisher.

Will is a rising star in television on a ‘survival’ type programme.

This is all about doing it in style to make everyone else envious if not completely jealous.

The guests they are invite are the ones as well as Jules and Will that tell the story of how everyone came to be on this island, invited to the wedding.

Olivia, Jules half sister and someone who does not want to be there. She is harbouring a secret, a secret that if she reveals it will upset everyone. No one knows. But she has to put on a brave face and forget her past and be the bridesmaid her sister is expecting her to be.

Hannah is the plus one, she is in fact Charlie, Jules best friend wife and she is very much feeling more than a spare part than a plus one. Charlie is to be the master of ceremonies at the wedding, leaving Hannah to very much disappear into the background but by doing so she learns some devastating information from her past.

Johnno is the best man – but not the man you would expect a well known face like Will to have. Him and Johnno have a past and with that is secrets which need to remain hidden. Trouble is the other ushers are all old school friends of both Will and Johnno and it seems that some rituals still need to be reenacted in adulthood as they did in childhood.

Then there is Aoife, the outsider to all of the people on the island. It is her island, it is her house, she is in fact the wedding planner and is there to facilitate anything that Jules and Will want as this is her chance to make a name for herself. Though Jules and Will are completely unaware of the name she actually wants to make for herself.

Having only recently read The Hunting Party, I was immediately hooked by the way Foley crafts her novels. As we go from character to character they all in turn fill in information and build a picture of not just themselves but each other. The secondary characters are also somehow cleverly well rounded and developed as well, as they do play an important part in this story.

There are plenty of people to dislike, in fact probably more than to like and empathise with which means they get under your skin, they make you keep turning the page.

As the wedding proceeds, events taken their own turn. As the island batters a storm, a storm is gathering in the wedding party and there might not be any survivors from either storm.

Completely addictive and keeps you guessing right from the beginning.

A good follow up to The Hunting Party and I personally hope for more the same from the author.

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

The Guest List is published on the 20th February. 

 

Books

In the Crypt with the Candlestick – Daisy Waugh

A new author to me and I was drawn to the cover without a doubt and the promise of:

In the traditions of two great but very different British writers, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse, Waugh’s hilarious and entirely original twist on the country house murder mystery comes complete with stiff upper lips, even stiffer drinks, and any stiffs that might embarrass the family getting smartly brushed under the carpet…

At Tode Hall, at ninety three Sir Ecgbert has finally died. Widow Lady Tode no longer wants to be lady of the manor and neither of her three children have much interest in the Tode Hall.

So the hall and all its residents is passed across to a distant relative much to the chagrin of the remaining family and staff.

However Lady Tode’s idea of spending her twilight years in Capri are thwarted when she ends up dead in the Hall’s mausoleum. What follows is a half hearted attempt to find out who the culprit was and with the aid of the granddaughter of a former employee and a ghost it seems the answer has been staring them in the face all the time.

This is not your normal murder mystery, a book which had a sense of wanting to be stuck in the past, the cover gives that impression but was very much in the present. The correlations to Wodehouse I could see, think Blandings not Jeeves and I am not sure if it has the real sense of Christie, that you may see in other homages.

However it was humourous in an almost pastiche to the country house murder mystery and was a passable diversion. It perhaps did not deliver as well as it could have done. Shame it had potential.

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

In the Crypt with a Candlestick is published on 20 February. 

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

January Roundup

Boom and one month gone! My nan was right, time goes quicker the older you get.

But this month time has been spent reading more books that have been hanging around for a while.

I saw all the hype regarding Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party, the cover itself makes the books stand out and when I spotted her new crime novel available on netgalley I only thought it fair to read the first. A page turner that is well worth a read and I have to admit was probably worth a lot fo the hype as well! As for her second I end the month reading that and well it seems to be up there with the first!

January 2020 is the month we lost Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton and I therefore thought it as fitting to read one of the books which I had on my shelf for a while M.C.Beaton – Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride. A passable book which almost cleans your brain for whatever else is to come and what you have read before, they are a simply forumliac joy. My only wish is that they do not ship in a ghostwriter to carry on the oeuvre simply for making money.

Last year was the first time of reading anything by Caroline Roberts and I had did a bit of a binge with Caroline Roberts – The Cosy Teashop in the Castle followed straight away with Caroline Roberts – The Cosy Christmas Teashop. Both delightful reads and I think a first for me reading a Christmas themed book after the event and not before. I look forward to catching up with more from this author.

To balance it all out a bit I did read some of the wonderful new novels which I gain access to through netgalley. Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise, second novel is as good if not better than the first. A great historical dual time narrative set in the second world war which draws you in and keeps you in the wilds of Scotland.

Going further back to the turn of the century and mining takes me to Tracy Rees – The House at Silvermoor. This time we are taken to Yorkshire, mining villages, conflicts between families and the lies and mysteries that a seemingly empty house brings. One of the best books written by Tracy Rees with such fantastic attention to detail you could almost taste the coal being mined.

And finally across the oceans to Australia and the mid nineteen eighties. Sophie Green – The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle, showing the strength of friendship and community in a shared love. Swimming. It appealed to me because of my own love of swimming although the coast around Portsmouth has slightly cooler water than that of Australia!

So that was January 2020 – not a bad month really. A time to reflect and get back to some sort of order and resemblance which helps my mental health no end. Unfortunately the grey weather does not. More books full of sunshine needed.

How has your January been? What is bringing you colour?

 

Books

Silent in the Sanctuary – Deanna Raybourn

This is the second Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane novel by Deanna Raybourn, if you have not read the first then do so, though this book will fill in some of the background story you will not get the full picture of their relationship and all its underlying currents.

Lady Julia is recovering from her ordeal in the previous book in Italy with two of her brothers Plum and Ly, but their father wants them all back home for Christmas, and for Ly to bring his new Italian bride with him. They come home bringing with them Alessandro, a friend from Italy who harbours a secret passion for Lady Julia to their country pile Bellmont Abbey or March Manor, where they are greeted by many members of their rather funny and eccentric family as well as a surprise or two and the mysterious Lord Wargrave. But is he mysterious or does Lady Julia already know him?

What then transpires is something which brings all great detective novels together – a murder. Who has committed this murder and why? And why has one of the house guests and cousin of sorts to Lady Julia claimed sanctuary in the chapel attached to the abbey? Did they really commit the murder or are they protecting someone.

Brisbane investigates with some help from Lady Julia, who whilst helping in one investigation ends up causing friction in another – the real reason that Brisbane has descended on Bellmot Abbey. Everyone is under suspicion and as the snow closes any access in or out of the murder, items go missing and the body of the victim is stored (and a post mortem carried out) in the game larder. It rather puts some of the guests (and the cook) of the food!

Raybourn has brought the two characters of Lady Julia and Brisbane back to life again, and this book reads as a witty tale of (despite the murder) escape into life in Victorian England. Ten out of ten for capturing so much of the society by an author who is an American but not once does this book slip from what it is all about – England. If like me you love reading about that upper class society world in an age gone by and you are not averse to a bit of murder and intrigue then this is the series of books for you. Raybourn successfully leads the ending of the story into the next one and I cannot wait to read it.

This review was first published on Amazon in 2009 and is featured on this blog as part of my look back at the last ten years of blogging. 

 

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!