Books · Jottings

October Roundup

What a funny old month – the reading slowed down and then has sped up at a great speed due to illness and not being able to sleep! At this point I am grateful to my kindle, but not so grateful to whoever gave me an ear & chest infection along with laryngitis. It has been a quiet and deaf last few days of October.

Anyway, enough of my ailments – what about the books?

In a bid to make a dent in my own bookshelves I only managed to read Katie Fforde – A Secret Garden. A classic Katie Fforde and a perfect piece of escapism. There is something rather comforting relying on particular authors to transport you away, which is why I was eager to read Jenny Colgan – Island Christmas.

I stumble across this series of Colgan books by accident and devoured them all up and then had to wait to continue the wonderful story of the lives and characters of the fictitious island of Mure, based on an island in the Hebrides. If a book inspired you to go somewhere it was these books – in a busy and demanding world sometimes the thought of escape to recapture oneself is a dream.

I am also just discovering more of Milly Johnson’s work and so to take another book that has been languishing on my netgalley shelf this time I picked up Milly Johnson – The Perfectly Imperfect Woman. It had everything in a story that I like and made me keep coming back for more.

Trouble when you start a series of books and you are hooked, you do have to keep coming back for more, which is why I got hold of the last in the trilogy of Lavender Bay Sarah Bennett – Snowflakes at Lavender Bay. I know series have to end, but there are some of the characters I always want to go back and see again – that was this book.

Trying to lose some of what some people might call ‘fluffy’ reading I picked up Lesley Kara – The Rumour. I love rumours, what starts out as something innocent can snowball and gather pace until it bears no resemblance to the truth. But what if some rumours are actually pure simple truth? I say no more, but I think this a book that you are going to have to look out for when published at the end of the year.

Rumours is how many an Agatha Christie is solved, that innocent piece of gossip actually leads Poirot or Marple to the truth. In bid to make my way through her body of work and because I caught the adaptation on the television a while back I picked up Agatha Christie – After the Funeral. Some might think it bizarre to read after the watch, and for the majority I would agree. But when it comes to Dame A sometimes a little prior knowledge means that I approach the book as a challenge and see if I can see the clues.

Rumours and clues and then of course there is secrets. Moving away from women’s fiction, Lily Graham is branching out into dual time narrative historical fiction and she is winning the race. Lily Graham – The Paris Secret is a book which reminds you of the innocence of love during wartime and what some of the consequences could be. Fascinating.

Finally, I got to Joanna Nell – The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which is another book been hanging around the netgalley shelf. It is a lovely quiet read, that takes you all the way to Australia – I did not realise this until about two-thirds of the way through the book. (*rolls eyes*). I did not even pick it up from the language, but it tells the story of the women in a retirement village who are not quite yet ready to retire from living a life!

So that was October, and whilst I write this in November and having already finished one book I am hoping that the lurgy dispatches soon as much as I enjoy all the stories, I would like some actual sleep at night.

Advertisements
Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As with the weather my reading has continued to heat up and with not being able to knit and nothing on the television I have been motoring along.

I gave up with one book because it was not working as I knew I had plenty more to be reading, especially to make a dent in my netgalley shelf.

It has been a month of catching up with favourite authors and interesting characters and returning to lovely places.

The first book finished in July was Jenny Colgan – Endless Beach which carried on a story which I started in June and I get to go back there towards the end of the year when the next part is out. I am fairly new to Colgan’s work but loving the stories.

Cornwall is a big draw for many people and many authors to set their books. I went back to the Scilly Isles with Phillipa Ashley – Summer on the Little Cornish Isles and completed the tale. I rediscovered characters from a while back when I was with Ali McNamara – Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van.

As summer holidays start around the country it is always lovely to escape into reading and getting some sunshine in Holly Martin – The Cottage on Sunshine Beach or perhaps smelling the lavender that is billowing in the fields in Sarah Bennett – Summer at Lavender Bay. Although these books are of a similar ilk which I do not deny, they are such joyus books to read and provide laughter, tears and pure escapism.

A canal boat holiday is something that I have never partook in but has always intrigued me and I had Christie Barlow – The Cosy Canal Boat Dream sitting waiting to be read for over a year. What a great story which had so much, canal boats, cinemas and cake!

Of course you can’t beat a summer wedding and in Jennifer Joyce – The Wedding that changed Everything the wedding is a week long in a castle! With treasure hunts, quizzes and cocktails what more could you ask, but when families get together tensions run high.

Adding something different into the mix, meant I picked up Rachel Brimble – The Mistress of Pennington’s set in the Edwardian times, it reminded me of one of those sunday night tv dramas brought to life on the page. I have read better and it was a bit long and drawn out but could have been much stronger.

Another book which did not quite live up to what I was expecting was Cathy Hopkins – Dancing over the Hill, the previous novel I had read was good – this did not really live up to it and I felt quite flat by the end of it, perhaps because I could not relate to some of the plot?

I definitely could not relate to Poppy Dolan – Confessions of a First Time Mum, but no matter as this was laugh out loud funny and written so well there was something for everyone, mum or otherwise in the book.

I am wanting to work my way through the works of the great Agatha Christie and spurred on my recent repeats of Poirot on ITV3 I started Agatha Christie – The Clocks. Poirot comes late into the story as opposed to the TV adaptation but nonetheless I think was a well written book which had the red herrings and got the little grey cells working. Another one off the list.

Finally for this month I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in Six in Six. If you have and not let me know then please leave a link so I can make sure you are mentioned in the round up post which will feature soon.

On with more reading….how was your July?

Books

A Shot in the Dark – Lynne Truss

I am always on the lookout for interesting reads and especially books which have a historical element to them and so this murder mystery book set in the late 1950s and in Brighton sounded just the thing to take me away from all the nice fluffy reading I have been doing.

Inspector Steine is head of the local police department in a place where he says no crime is committed. . The Inspector is still dining out on the fact that a mere seven years previous he took the glory for two rival gangs who managed to all kill each other. Clearly there cannot be anymore crime in Brighton.

Sergeant Brunswick is desperate to be able to solve a crime and to go undercover to do this. He is thwarted at every turn by Steine.

Constable Twitten is a young whippersnapper who is being moved from police station to police station, not because he is no good but because he is too good. A stint in Brighton seems to the be the last resort.

Of course there needs to a crime – and so there is – now keep up at the back…..a hated theatre critic shot dead in his theatre seat whilst just about to reveal something about a crime he was victim of some years previous. A strong woman who escapes prison, a phrenologist who is not what he seems, a red-headed opinion poll lady, stolen jewels, dead actors and of course a murderer.

As I reflect back this was somewhat of a humorous novel, but for me it was somewhat lacking the humour simply didn’t work for me. The change in tone of the writing felt I was treated as rather foolish and couldn’t possibly understand what was happening without clear direction from the author so I was told what to think. That may well have been the intention but for me I rather make up my own mind about these things.

Towards the denouement it became rather ludicrous, that an Inspector so inept could continue and get away with what he had done, with no spark of conscience. The constable had the answers but was in no position to convince anyone of the truth and so much was left unsaid.

This was not the book I thought it was going to be and I was left rather disappointed and unsatisfied. However, it may well be a book that many other people will enjoy – so it is worth a try if you like murder mystery novels.

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

A Shot in the Dark is out on 28 June. 

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Ordeal by Innocence – Agatha Christie or TV

I read Ordeal by Innocence back in 2009 when it was first adapted for television by ITV and they stuck Miss Marple into it. I wanted to know the true story as created by Christie herself.

In light of the recent adaptation this time on the BBC I dug back out the review (posted on Amazon preblog) and have reposted below:

I picked up this as I have done with recent Agatha Christie novels in comparison to the TV adaptations.

Ordeal by Innocence, a recent Marple adaptation is a wide variation on the book. The murderer and motive are still the same and the first initial murder (which has already been committed in the book) is the same, other than that the book has more character depth and obviously no Miss Marple.

The detection of the real killer comes down to more than one person. Huish the original detective on the case when it is reopened by Dr Calgary’s evidence. Dr Calgary also feels responsible in bringing his evidence too late for the one originally arrested for the crime and seeks to rectify matters. Phillip Durrant, Son in Law to the eldest member of the Argyle family also piques an interest in the case, to take his mind off his disability. All members of the family then begin to doubt each other as reality sets in that if their brother (and son) did not commit the murder of their mother then one of them within Sunny Point (previously known as Vipers Point) and within the family did.

Christie uses her wonderful skills as a crime writer to let the reader see each character become unpicked and analysed, as each is dealt with in turn. Even those who have already died when the book begins. Rachel Argyle’s death at the hands originally thought to be one of her adopted sons, the ‘monkey -face’ Jacko is the key to unravelling the rest of the adopted children’s backgrounds. Their hopes and fears are dealt with when the death of their adoptive mother as well as what happened to their birth parents and Rachel Argyles apparent strict hold over them all comes up again as the case is re-examined.

Christie weaves the tale effectively and to the conclusion that the TV adaptation also reaches. The introduction of Miss Marple held more interest for me and I found that one investigator may have made the book more structured for me.

Nonetheless this is a story in the complexity of families, the murder a mere diversion to bring them altogether, no matter how dysfunctional they seem on the surface; do we really know what any of them are truly like when under pressure in being innocent……. it really can be an ordeal.

The latest adaptation was an ordeal. I watched it, because I like to be challenged and I like to have a view on what we expect something to be. And it is great to do mindless knitting to as well.

At times when I was watching it I was unsure as to what I was watching. It was very dark and tried to perhaps be too slick in its delivery. Christie did not need such fakery to set a tone, plot and pace. However I did think it brought out how horrible Rachel Argyle was and the hold she had over her ‘children’. As for the change of killer…….

Read this article – ironically on the BBC website and let me know your thoughts.

I have read somewhere that the executive producer has The ABC Murders as her next project – but that is Poirot and I am somewhat fearful of how that might turn out.

Nonetheless despite these differing reworkings. It creates debate and divides opinion and more than likely means people go back to read Agatha Christie. Surely that remains the main point?

Books

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

This book intrigued me – which is why I chose it. As I started on the adventure I was immediately reminded of the film Groundhog Day where the same day is relived, in the case of Aiden Bishop he is reliving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle every day but in a different person’s body.

So far so good.

Then I ran into trouble. I was getting confused with who was who, and whilst I have no aversion of reading on my kindle this was one of those times when I wish I had a ‘real’ copy so I flick back to the beginning and get a sense of who these people were.

I persevered because the book is clever, the concept of seeing something happen again and again but in the guise of someone else is intriguing. The twist of being able to stop it to save yourself gives it another added layer.

But I wonder whether this book was simply too clever for me? I think it might have been. It had all the right elements I like in novels, a cast of characters both masters and servants, a big house, set in the past, a mystery, a twist but it whilst it held my attention enough to keep me reading I was left feeling rather flat at the end.

For me this book didn’t work. If you choose it, it might work for you.

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

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is out on the 8 Feb. 

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How was your first month of 2018 reading wise?

 

Books

Books in 2017

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

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

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

The shortest book was 35 pages.

The longest book was  665 pages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is so much packed into the pages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year.