Books · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2011

This is the second in a reflective post of ten years of blogging and also to mark the new decade as well. Reflecting back I have rediscovered books and authors I have read and promised myself I would read more, but never getting round to it. I have also seen how much my blogging has perhaps changed, developed and hopefully improved – even if some of it does make me cringe!

So here I am back in 2011, the first full year of blogging.

I was still talking about my crafts – looking back at the pictures it seems that 2011 was a bit of a turning point where I started to branch out with more than one thing on the go (no different to now really)

2011 was the year that I discovered Lucinda Riley with Hothouse Flower 

This is a strong book, with a fairly complex plot and a number of characters but Lucinda Riley weaves a tale that makes it easy to follow and completely absorbing. I found myself wanting to read it any spare minute I had, just to get to the next bit.

I was hooked with this writer and anyone who has been reading this blog for as long as I have been wittering on, will know that I have read many of her novels. I love the current Seven Sisters series but I still think if I had to choose it would be The Girl on the Cliff.

Another author I have read no more of since 2011 is Nicola Upson, I know I did try one of her later ones but at the time did not get on with it. I probably subconsciously gave up with them at the point. Rereading the review for Two For Sorrow, led me to find two other reviews not featured on the blog and to looking out for one of her other books.

2011 was the year that a kindle came into my life. I am now on my second one as the original developed lines and made it difficult to read the screen. I was very dubious at first and am passionate about ‘real’ books, still am. However I then went the other way and started trying out lots of books, because I could and seeing if I wanted to read any of them.

It became a little project which sort of died a death really as some blogging projects do sometimes. I got simply bogged down in looking up and trying out books – I ended up not really reading many of them.

I think when you start a new blog you spend a lot of time trying out what works or doesn’t work for you and sometime you simply need ideas for blog posts. Some work, some don’t and some like this one from Simon at Stuck in A Book I only did once here when it was first brought out and then again for a second time here and for a bit of nostalgia look out for another one of these in the coming weeks and with all credit to Simon.

I look back at the books mentioned and find that some authors I have never ventured back to, others have stuck. How reading changes and introduces you to new things.

One of those new things was Persephone Books- this was my first time in participating a reading challenge and a read along. The book I chose was The Home-Maker. Ironically it is the only Persephone book I still have read and probably all these years later I should perhaps tackle another one.

I did go back and revisit some wonderful childhood books which I have carried on doing over the last ten years or so but may not have written about them. Of course my childhood was dominated by Enid Blyton but sadly many of the books I have read have been given away and the only versions I could find were of the ‘newer’ variety

Yes but there is a problem, I can only download a newer version of her novel. All updated to fit in with the politically correct brigade that seem to lurk around. Oh well, lets just try a sample without having to part with any money and see how we get on? They cannot have changed that much can they? Oh, they have!

Here where I have revisited Five on Treasure Island I go into some of the comparisons. If you ever go back and read them – find the originals not the ‘correct’ versions.

However I did find a copy of the Malory Towers book I read as a child many times and that was a sheer delight. Definitely the place I get my love of school stories from.

The term goes on with the trials and tribulations. Tricks are made with pretend deafness, spiders and spilt ink. Courage and cowardice are fought and lost. Work is hard and positions are important. Tempers are lost and regained and new friendships are formed. I do not need to go into detail of all the events, as they just fit in so seamlessly and that although they are short they are dealt with effectively and efficiently. Good and bad, rights and wrongs corrected. The right sort of justice is dispatched to the right people with no comeback. Rereading as an adult I wonder if perhaps Blyton was using some sort of moral tale with these stories. That thought passes very quickly and I have just enjoyed the book for what it is pure pleasure.

Going back to my childhood took me back to the Mobile Library that visited and also libraries in general. I should use them far more and I don’t and I feel totally ashamed by that. I know I should do more, reflecting back on this post and the last ten years has really made me think. Perhaps I need to redress the balance in 2020. I make no rash promises because I know that life has a funny way of interfering.

There are many things that interfere in life and looking back in 2011 I was busily losing weight – I got to my target, I was more than please but life got in the way the following year. The losing weight ceased and I think I need say no more for the moment. Now is not the time to share about it. But what looking back at 2011 showed me was I shared a lot about food and cooking.

Cakes are a popular bake in my household, carrott, chocolate and cookies. Of course living on your own means you have to adapt and change things around and challenge yourself which I did when I made some Scotch eggs. I don’t think I have made any since – and I know I could quite easily as I have all the ingredients at home.

2011 for blogging was what I call a real mixed bag and I posted about lots of different things as you can see from this post. That has certainly changed as I look back at the blog in the last twelve months. It is all evolving and what I do wonder is what people want when they pop by and read my blog. Do they want to see what else has been going on? Do they want to understand the person behind the book reviews? Only you reading this know that!

So in conclusion from looking back at 2011 I need to find some Nicola Upson books, Persephone books, libraries and Scotch Eggs! I wonder if I will?

 

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

Holly Martin Books

I am rather an avid fan of Holly Martin and have read the following eleven of her novels in the last four years or so:

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky

Spring at Blueberry Bay

Summer at Buttercup Beach

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach

Coming Home to Maple Cottage

The Summer of Chasing Dreams

The Little Village of Happiness

The Gift of Happiness

I have a few more to catch up on but in the meantime I am delighted to be able to tell you about her new novel.

Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.

Sunrise over Sapphire Bay is published on the 24th April and you can pre-order the book here. Of course it is already on my list to be read!

If you are looking for books to bring a bit of sunshine into your life then these could well be the books for you.

 

I occasionally receive an advanced review copy of Holly Martin’s novels but I receive no payment or other incentive in reading, reviewing them or promoting her work. 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

This is the first Parish Notices of the year so it seems and I wanted to share some bits and pieces with you.

March seems like a long way off and my stop on this blog tour is in April but I wanted to let you know about the wonderful new book from Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise.

A sneak peek from my review

…this second novel is better than the first……. shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters…

A book that you may have seen in or out of the press is Libby Page – The 24 Hour Cafe. In a similar vein to her debut novel The Lido, this is a book to draw you in.

 

How often do you stop and wonder about those around you – what their story is and whether it is happier or more troubled than your own? Whether there are people looking at you thinking the same, just for 24 hours Libby Page gives us that insight and as you finish the book, you go back to your own life and carry on.

Another recommend is Tracy Rees – The House at Silvermoor. If you want something Catherine Cookson-esque in fact something even better than this is the book for you.

This book is packed full of wonderful passages and it’s pace at times might seem slower than other novels but then I think that is intended…

……There are many more scenes I could choose from to describe how wonderful the writing is but that would just spoil the book for you.

It is ten years this year since I first started the blog and there is a reflection post of that very first year and throughout this year I hope to revisit each of the years in turn. It has jogged my memory of books, authors and crafts I was doing and so I hope to return to some of these and perhaps share some early reviews as well.

So whilst my parish maybe wet and windy thanks to Storm Ciara Dennis I have books and crafts to keep my company. What is going on in your parish?

 

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

The House at Silvermoor – Tracy Rees

A new century, the twentieth is upon Tommy and Josie and they have plans but they are seemingly stuck in their respective Yorkshire coal mining villages and it seems their destiny is mapped out for them, long before they were born.

Tommy knows he will go down the mine in the footsteps of his brothers, the men that marry his sisters and his fathers. He also knows that not everyone comes out the same as they were before they were underground. However Tommy wants to learn more about the world, he has a thirst for knowledge and that is not sated by this little village.

Josie, living in a neighbouring village in the shadow of a different mine to Tommy, she sees the effect that this rich mine owner is having on the locals and most of all her family.

Meeting one day Tommy and Josie form an unlikely friendship which is innocent and heartwarming  perhaps but their fascination with doing something other than mining and seeing another part of the world through the gates to the Heston Manor they wonder perhaps what life is like in there.

Heston Manor is all closed up, no one lives there since a tragedy some years previous and the owner, also the owner of the mine in the village where Josie lives is not someone to be trifled with – especially when you find yourself on their land.

But there is a secret to Heston Manor and both Tommy and Josie are drawn back there time and time again. What they discover can it change their lives or the lives of everyone in the village.

As fates take their own path, Tommy and Josie find themselves at another big house – Silvermoor. How can a place be so welcoming, opening and accepting when Heston Manor is everything but?

As all the strands of the story start to weave together it seems that Tommy and Josie are about to embark on a very different future to the one they thought they would have.

This book is packed full of wonderful passages and it’s pace at times might seem slower than other novels but then I think that is intended as you start to understand the differences between the main characters, their respective villages, the mines, the ‘big’ houses and the classes.

The research that must have gone into this book was clearly there to see – the scenes in the mines at times had me gasping for breath. Claustrophobia set in as I was taken with Tommy under the ground, where you could not stand up straight, breathe properly and almost taste the coal. There are many more scenes I could choose from to describe how wonderful the writing is but that would just spoil the book for you.

A novel full of opposites, which in show the love and hate, the warmth and coldness, ironically the coal gives you warmth the work to get it so heartlessly cold. I am not sure what the message was from this book – but for me it swept me away and I hope it does you.

For me this is the best book by Tracy Rees so far and is a must for any fans of historical fiction, think Catherine Cookson but on a much higher level.

 

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

The House at Silvermoor is published on 6 Feb 2020.

 

Books

The Little Village Library – Helen Rolfe

Cloverdale has a different sort of library, the sort of library you can borrow useful things – a hedge trimmer, breadmaker or ladder. But the library is also fast becoming the centre of the community as its founder Jennifer wanted it to be. Dance classes, sewing and using a drill all feature but so does that sense of community, friendship and belonging.

Some residents including jennifer are hiding things and until all these secrets and anger can be forgiven and forgotten Cloverdale will yet to have that real community feel.

Jennifer is at a loss now her children are growing up and away from her support, she is looking to capture the past she had before she gave it all up to be a wife, a mother and a carer.

Jennifer’s sister Isla has returned to Cloverdale after wandering the planet for months, never settling in one place but now it seems that Isla can put down roots and stay but why is her sister so against this.

Adam and his two children, Zoe and Zac but what are they hiding from and why is nothing much mentioned about their mother and Adams wife. Where is she? Why has she seemingly abandoned her children? Will a diary reveal the secrets?

Viola is helicopter parent, perfect in whatever she does, she judges to harshly and makes her own conclusiojns, which is what happened to her friendship with Jennifer many years ago. Now they are all back in Cloverdale will past misdemeanours be forgiven and will everyone be embraced into the community.

The basis of this book, the library was a great thing however the plot I found the be very laboured and I did consider giving up at more than once. The only thing that kept me reading was to find out what all the characters had done in the past, the secrets they held. The book was not a light hearted read as the cover may imply, it dealt with some difficult subjects, it dealt with them well but perhaps they were not the right book for them to be featured in.

I was left disappointed by this book especially when a previous book by this author, The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier was a great read. I would approach another of her books with a bit more trepidation.

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

The Little Village Library is published on 6 February 2020.