Books · Jottings

March Roundup

I just went back and read what I wrote about in the 2017 March Roundup, this line made me smile:

…… when so many lovely books have been appearing on netgalley. I am determined to get that feedback ratio to a better number!

Ironically I am still trying to do that, and I am so conscious of what I am asking for and also whether I am reading real books i.e. in my hand and not on kindle that nothing much has changed for March 2018!

I sort of set myself a task of reading a book from netgalley that has been downloaded more than 3 months ago, then one in the current 3 months and at last read some books of my shelves. Something makes me say I haven’t achieved this!

So what did I read – well thanks to netgalley I got Jill Steeples – Wedding Bells at The Dog and Duck, the third in the series. Having yet to read the second I of course had to go back to Jill Steeples – Summer at The Dog and Duck. I am not sure as to whether I am perhaps done with The Dog and Duck?

I revisited Castle Court for the third time Holly Hepburn – Stormy Weather at Castle Court. The more I read books in this serial format, the more I dislike them and so now I am trying to be more careful when I pick them as sometimes once you are hooked you have to keep waiting – though I rather think that is the point!

I did not mind going back to the Scilly Isles with Phillipa Ashley – Spring on the Little Cornish Isles: The Flower Farm. I think it is one place I would love to go to visit. In the meantime, the books bring the place to life for me.

I revisited Cornwall to catch up with Emma Burstall – Tremarnock Summer an author I have been following and reading for a long time – so now I am set up to read her next one.

No one likes visiting the doctor unless they have to but I could not resist making another appointment with Penny Parkes – Best Practice. 

I recognised the characters in Monica McInerney – The Trip of a Lifetime and it turns out I had read about them in a previous novel, which for me was much better than this one. As it was one of the last I finished in March, I was rather disappointed.

What I was not disappointed with was Ruth Jones – Never Greener. A real page turner, and I was always dubious about so-called ‘celebrities’ writing fiction. No need to be dubious on this occasion as it was excellent.

I have had Hazel Gaynor – A Memory of Violets on my shelf for a long while and decided I wanted something a bit more less contemporary and more historical. This book satisfied all this and I have discovered an author who I would like to read more of. Handy as I know I have one of her books on my netgalley to read list!

Something completely different was Rachel Dove – The Long Walk Back in a change from perhaps more women’s fiction that she is known for – this was a hard-hitting book, about war and the aftermath that it can create for those who are all affected by it.

Of course writing fiction about another fictional character seems rather absurd, but for some reason in Laurie R King – The Beekeeper’s Apprentice it works. This is the first in a series of books which feature Mary Russell and her tutor, a man you may have heard of: Sherlock Holmes. Not sure whether I will go back and read anymore but I know they will be enjoyable reads.

Lynne Truss – A Shot in the Dark was a good murder mystery somewhere in between the pages. A great sense of humour and irony in there somewhere, but it was not for me. It might be for you though.

And I ended the month, with a book that I have read before. Looking back I haven’t reread any books in over ten years or more. Notwithstanding revisiting childhood books. But I wanted to reread this one Mary Ann Shaffer – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. The film is due out in April and I wanted to refresh myself with the story. I am so glad I did, I laughed, cried and gasped in all the same places and had forgotten what a wonderful way letters can be in telling a story.

I read the book, long before this blog was created but I did review it for Amazon so look out for the review at some point in the coming weeks. I will endeavour to write about the film adaptation too.

So that’s it for March – more of the same for April I think.

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Books

Book Spotlight – All the Fun of the Fair

Title: All the Fun of the Fair

Author Name: Lynda Page

Genre: Historical Fiction, Saga, Women’s Fiction

Release Date: 19th February 2018

Publisher: Canelo

Book Blurb: The unmissable new saga from bestselling author Lynda Page

It’s the 1950s and Grundy’s Travelling Fair arrives in town with a bang.

When night falls, the local town is drawn to the Fair. But when the fairgoers head home, the Grundys are left behind. Hours are long and the work back-breaking. But family and friends hold things together.

Gemma married into the lifestyle, her reliable husband Solomon making the work worthwhile. Solly’s Dad Samson is still the boss, but his other son, known as Sonny, is getting a reputation…

Times are changing. Can the family – and the fair – survive?

A saga with a twist, join the Grundy family in a gritty but heartwarming novel of love, friendship and secrets. Perfect for fans of Kitty Neale, Lyn Andrews and Rosie Goodwin.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

Author Bio:
Bestselling author Lynda Page has written over thirty books, and is a well-loved and critically acclaimed saga author. Born and raised in Leicester, where many of her novels take place, she began her prolific writing career in her forty-five minute lunch breaks. Best known for her Jolly’s Holiday Camp series, Lynda is writing a new series exploring life at a travelling fair in the 1950s for Canelo, with the first book, All the Fun of the Fair, out in February 2018.

If you want to know what I thought about the book then please pop back tomorrow to read my review. 

Books

Coming Soon…….

….. to the blog you are currently reading.

Two books which I have really enjoyed so far this year.

Come back on the 25th February to see the spotlight and then the review of the book.

Then in March we have what some people have been hoping and dreaming about for a while

What have you got coming soon to your blog?

 

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.

 

Books

The Murderess – Jennifer Wells

1931 – Kate witnesses her mother, Millicent push a woman in front of a train. Kate is fifteen. She doesn’t know who the woman was or why her mother did it.

1940 – Kate’s mother will possibly be out on parole within a year. She was spared her life despite taking another’s.

Kate has to face up to what her mother has done.

On the ninth anniversary of the tragic events, Kate sees a man on the station holding flowers, her memory is jogged and she is determined to find out the truth behind the event which has shaped her life, that of her father and family ever since.

The book is told from the point of view of both mother and daughter. Kate’s tale is told during the 1940 and Millicent’s in 1915 and up to the conclusion of events on that tragic day in 1931. Two women who are caught in world wars with very different experiences and lives but bound by the fact that they are mother and daughter.

It took awhile for me to get into the two ‘voices’ of the story initially but once I had found them, I let myself be swept along by the story. As I read there is one more story to tell that of the woman who was sadly pushed in front of the train. What part did she play and was I going to get her side of the story.

I was not expecting what I got from this book. Initially I thought it was going to be of the wartime saga variety which I love to read but this was much richer and deeper and had more realism. Starting the book with someone being pushed in front of a train is certainly going to get your attention.

As I read the pieces all started to come together, but whilst some may say it was obvious what was going to happen, I let it all unfold as I read and took each twist as it came and when I reached the end of the book – I was shocked. Inevitable perhaps but my experience of historical sagas has never been like this book – and I am hooked.

I am going to go and read this authors first novel, she clearly has the storytelling gene and it encompasses history within a saga setting and a bit of crime – a perfect combination for me.

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

The Murderess is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

December Roundup

There we go then – December done and dusted with (well depending on when you are reading this of course).

It is time to reflect back on Decembers reading and see where it took me – into Christmas quite obviously!

I finished the lovely Canal Boat story I started earlier in the year with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Starboard Home. 

I also caught up on another author I read this year with her Christmas story Karen Clarke – The Beachside Christmas which was the best out of the trilogy she has written.

My favourite Christmas book was Heidi Swain – Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair I have loved all the books that I have read so far from this author and delight in the fact that I have two more to catch up on into the new year. This really is a Christmas feel good novel to lose yourself in completely. I so wanted to be apart of it.

I fell into the trap again of picking up what I thought was a short story only to find it was part one of four books. Grrr! Trouble is I fell for the cover of Holly Hepburn – Snowy Nights at Castle Court and didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Never mind, I have preordered the next three and only have myself to blame. Although I did resist another part one on netgalley. Serves me right for being smug about it!

I came across Samantha Silva – Mr Dickens and his Carol on The Book Trail blog and it sounded an interesting read – a bargain on Amazon for 99p (still is as of this post) and if you are a fan of Dickens this makes for an interesting concept about how the story of A Christmas Carol came to be. I wish I had discovered it earlier in the month as I would have gone ahead and reread the said book. It always seems strange reading it at any other time of the year!

With all this ‘nice’ christmas feeling books – i needed something to counteract it all and so I had been lent Paula Hawkins – Into the Water. Her second novel after the momentous Girl on a Train and for me the book was a bit of a let down, second books can either be amazing or just meh. For me it was the latter option, still good but not quite so gripping.

Back to some saga, to some well trodden path and who better to fill that spot than Rosie Goodwin – The Maid’s Courage. I thoroughly enjoyed it, some say it follows the same old formula but hey if it works why try and change it when it means you can escape real life for a few hundred pages.

And so to the books of 2018 – I have had a little head start by reading Trisha Ashley – A Good Heart is Hard to Find, one of her earlier works which has been tweaked and renamed. More about that in 2018.

I end the year (and slightly cheating because I am not sure if I will actually finish it before 23:59) reading Carole Matthews  – A Million Love Songs. A discover only in the last couple of years and whilst I should go back and read some of her earlier work I am too busy reading her recent stuff – another one to look out for in 2018.

Where will next years reading take me? Where will it take you?

 

 

Books

The Mitford Murders – Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Sisters have always fascinated me. How six women made such an impact on social and political history throughout the twentieth century. The people they knew and associated with jump from the pages of a history book.

When I first saw this title, I was intrigued. even more so when I learnt the author is related to Julian Fellowes* of Downton Abbey fame. There must be a storytelling gene somewhere in them there Fellowes!

But whilst this is a story, this is also a book based in reality, based in truth but I am not going to give anymore away about what reality and what truth – because like me you can read the book and find out in the end.

Louisa Cannon lives with her mother and an unpleasant Uncle, teetering on the border of poverty in London.

She finds herself escaping her uncle and going to work at the Mitford’s Oxfordshire home where she becomes a maid and companion to the Nanny and the small Mitford girls but also a friend and confidante with Nancy Mitford the eldest. Her life is going to change and Nancy sees Louisa as a way to escape the confines of being in society.

Florence Nightingale Shore related to her namesake and a nurse as well finds herself on a train at the same time as Louisa, the two do not know each other but their lives are about to become entwined especially as one ends up dead and the other making her own investigations.

This is a book which is a mix of fact made into wonderful fiction. The settings are perfect, the insight into the Mitford Sisters early upbringing intriguing although of course we  do not know how much poetic license has been taken, but the infamy perhaps gives you an idea of the characters they were when they were small.

This really is a different murder mystery book, but also seems to sit right in the Golden Age Mystery category. I am intrigued as to how the next book will pan out and what fact or reality is going to be featured and just how will the Mitford’s fit in. There is so much scope with setting yourself such a task.

* His adaptation of Mary Poppins for the stage is phenomenal!

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

The Mitford Murders is out now. 

I loved this book but I do know that the review does not do it justice. That is what comes from being so busy that finding time to review was so difficult and I have lost the momentum you have when you want to sing from the roof tops about a book! Note to self – must try harder!