Books · Jottings

December Roundup

That is it then December 2106 reading complete and the year complete as well. It has been relatively quiet on here in the last couple of months. Whilst I have been around and I have been reading I have had a few bad blogging weeks, I was not feeling the love and nor did I have the time to dedicate to reviewing and posting about the books I have been reading.

I have been reading and a lot of it if the total count for December is anything to go by. I stuck with the Christmas theme which I think I started way back in September!

Liz Fenwick – A Cornish Christmas Carol was a modern take on a classic and it reminded me I have more of Liz Fenwick’s excellent books to catch up with.

I discovered Heidi Swain during the year and when I spotted – Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market I knew I wanted to read it and it would be a cracking book to settle down to at Christmas. I was not disappointed. I must get round to getting her first novel so I am all up to date.

I have read little by Milly Johnson when I go back and look on my Goodreads list, A Winter Flame had been languishing on my shelf for a while and I needed some comfort reading and this was certainly it. Found another author with a fairly good back catalogue to catch up on.

Tilly Tennant is another an author who I discovered in 2016. Once Upon a Winter is the whole book of four shorter stories which interlink and also with a bonus. Not as strong perhaps as her Honeybourne series that I have started, but passable nonetheless.

Now know I say this every time I do it, but I seem to keep falling into series of books. Where the story is released in parts – I blame netgalley on the whole as they are the ones who normally spike my interest. Which is how I got to Sheila Norton – The Vets at Hope Green and read the first of the The Reading Group Series Della Parker – The Reading Group: December. I certainly want to read more from Sheila Norton, but I am not sure about Della Parker. I was not connecting with the characters quick enough to be drawn into their lives. Perhaps I will see what the third book turns out like.

More new authors continued with Penny Parkes – Out of Practice full of doctors, passion and heartache all set in a village. What more could you want?

More great stories! Tracy Rees – Florence Grace was a wonderful story, full of windswept moors, and a society of a long time ago. Historical fiction is something I must read more of.

Jill Mansell – Meet me at Beachcomber Bay takes us back to Cornwall in her new novel. This was a real refreshing read and I felt it was different from some of her previous books I have read.

The last book of 2016 is another new one Paula Daly – The Trophy Child. Was not sure if I was in the mood for a thriller, after reading all this nice cosy fiction. Turns out I was. It kept me hooked and will be one to watch in 2017.

So that is it for 2016. I need to review my year of reading, I need to decide on what my challenges will be for 2017 if any and which way the blog perhaps needs to go.

In the meantime….. Happy New Year.

Jottings

November Roundup

Where to start with my November reading? Probably not as much read as could have been, but birthdays, celebrations, dinners out, christmas decorations seriously cut into the reading time. It also has cut into reviewing and blogging time as well, as you may well have noticed on this blog.

Nonetheless I did manage to read some crackers and some with a Christmas theme, I am getting in early with all the Christmas reading.

I got to finish off the series Holly Hepburn – Christmas at The Star and Sixpence and I am looking forward to seeing what else she comes up with, though I think I still prefer the whole read and not the novella/series/part way. I keep saying that and I still keep going to read books this way!

I revisited The Cornish Cafe with Phillipa Ashley – Christmas at The Cornish Cafe very much a book for the settee with a blanket,tea and mince pies. It is pitched as a trilogy but I am not sure when the final book is going to be out.

More Christmas with Katie Fforde – Candlelight at Christmas. A great short story and always a good way to be introduced to Katie Fforde’s work. It turns out in this novel, they are recurring characters from one of the novels I have not read and so I have to read that as soon as possible!

Now if you were paying attention, you will notice that I go on about preferring to read books in their whole and not in the parts – then what do I do? Start another series Della Parker – The Reading Group: January. Whoops! Clearly with the months, this is a series that could go on a while!

Now for something completely different Julia Stuart – The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland. I have read most of this author’s work and highly recommend it if you want something really quirky! I only have one to read and that is because I have struggled to get hold of a copy. In this book, whilst it is perhaps not as quirky as previous novels, it has a real depth and focus which is quite heart breaking.

Another quirky novel and one that I struggled with is Mave Fellows – Chaplin and Company. If I struggled why did I not give up on it? I think because it was a beautifully written novel and deserved to be read but it was difficulty in places and I think I may have missed some of the story.

You cannot beat a good murder mystery and if you like such things then I heartily recommend Kate Saunders – The Secrets of Wishtide. Kate Saunders – The Secrets of Wishtide. It is really frustrating when you discover what is going to be a series of books and you have only the first one to read – all you want to do is devour all that have been written. I am on the look out when the next one of these is to be published!

Still reading Christmas stories as the month closes and I am hoping that I will have lots of time to do even more reading!

Books

July Roundup

So there we have it July. Gone in the blink of an eye. Well it seems to have done for me and I am most surprised that I have read so much in it too!

First of all as I look at what I have read, most has come from netgalley and mostly on my kindle and nothing from the books sitting forlornly on the shelves at home. In fact I actually went out and bought Daphne du Maurier – My Cousin Rachel to read, as my mum’s copy was so fragile I was scared of turning the pages. I really enjoyed this book and have yet shockingly not written about it on this blog. Time has been at a premium and perhaps I am still digesting the wonderful writing, the characters and the strange Rachel within the pages of the book.

Another purchased book to read was Roald Dahl – The BFG my copy I must have had as a child is long gone and I desperately wanted to read the book, before I go and see the film. What a wonder and a joy Roald Dahl is and I can understand why I loved reading so much as a child when it was stories like this to entice me. Looking back and reading it as an adult there were some rather choice phrases which as a child perhaps do not matter much, but as an adult resonate far more:

‘I is not understanding human beans at all,’ the BFG said. ‘You is a human bean and you is saying it is grizzling and horrigust for giants to be eating human beans….

‘But human beans is squishing each other all the time, the BFG said. ‘They is shootling guns and going up in aerioplanes to drop their bombs on each other’s heads every week. Human beans is always killing other human beans.’

He was right. Of course he was right and Sophie knew it. She was beginning to wonder whether humans were actually any better than giants.

I think Dahl had the world worked out a long time ago!

Going back to what you know and love is always a great way to choose books which is why I took a trip to Botswana and visited the wonder that is Mma Precious Ramotswe in Alexander McCall Smith – The Double Comfort Safari Club. It has been a while but always do enjoy these lovely sojourns which are simple tales of morality and almost verging on fables.

I also travelled to India with Julia Gregson – Monsoon Summer. The sounds, the sights, the heat, the smells flew of the page as the story captured into it. What better and probably cheaper way to experience these places than reading about them.

I have also been all over the country as well, down the road from me to Brighton and Goodwood with Sara Sheridan – Operation Goodwood. I cannot wait for more from Mirabelle and her sidekick Vesta.

I have been up to Scotland with Rachel Lucas – Wildflower Bay for the final part of the story. If you know me, I am not a great fan of novels which are split into novellas but as this was only three and I had 1 and 2 available pretty much straight away and did not have long to wait until 3, I took the plunge. I do hope Rachel Lucas returns to this Scottish island.

I did stop for a while in Glasgow with Margaret Thomson Davies – The Goodmans of Glassford Street, but I was not there long. The book was not doing anything for me. It was perhaps not a strong enough start and whilst I gave it a fair go, I decided that no it wasn’t goign to work for me. It did not seem to fit correctly in the right era, the planning and plotting were rather weak. It would have been a stronger book if the author had been a bit clearer. Since reading reviews about the book, it appears this author has written far better work.

Right to the other end of the land with Sarah Vaughan – The Farm on the Edge of the World, a lovely dual narrative story set in Cornwall. A book that surprised me.

No trip would be complete without a trip to the beach at least and I was taken to the fictional seaside resort of Sandybridge with Ali McNamara – Letters from Lighthouse Cottage. 

Of course if it is raining a trip to a bookshop is a good idea, especially Ellen Berry – The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane one dedicated to cookbooks and if it just happens to be in God’s own country then who am I to complain.

A real whistle-stop tour of the UK, probably not in a very sensible order now I look back!

Oddly enough I am in Geneva, Norway and London whilst I reading the second book of the wonderful Lucinda Riley series about The Seven Sisters. That is where I am leaving July and entering August and I hope there will even more reading.

Where has your July taken you?

Books

Six in Six – 2016 My Choices

Thank you to everyone who has joined in so far in July. Thank you for all the lovely links back to me as well. I hope you find something that you can enjoy here. I will hopefully gather everyone who has joined in and put them all on one lovely post at the end of July.

So if you don’t know what Six in Six is well check out this post here.

Without further ado here are my choices:

  • Six books that I have read but not reviewed
  1. James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil
  2. David Nicholls – Starter for Ten
  3. Maureen Lee – The Kelly Sisters
  4. Alan Bradley – I am Half Sick of Shadows
  5. Sara Sheridan – British Bulldog
  6. Rosie Goodwin – Dilly’s Lass
  • Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of
  1. Lissa Evans – Crooked Heart
  2. Rachel Dove – The Chic Boutique on Baker Street
  3. Tracy Rees – Amy Snow
  4. Phillipa Ashley – Summer at the Cornish Cafe
  5. Annie Darling – The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts
  6. Bella Osborne – Willow Cottage
  • Six books I was disappointed with
  1. Patricia Wentworth – Fool Errant
  2. David Nicholls – Starter for Ten
  3. Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera – The Awakening of Miss Prim
  4. Louise Douglas – The Secret by the Lake
  5. Katherine Webb – The Unseen
  6. Shelley Harris – Jubilee
  • Six authors I have read before
  1. Katie Fforde
  2. Maureen Lee
  3. Veronica Henry
  4. Sara Sheridan
  5. Nicky Pellegrino
  6. Cathy Bramley
  • Six Books I Really, Really Loved
  1. Anna Hope – The Ballroom
  2. Cathy Bramley – Wickham Hall
  3. Rosie Goodwin – Dilly’s Sacrifice
  4. Rosie Goodwin – Dilly’s Lass
  5. Tilly Tennant – The Little Village Bakery
  6. Sara Sheridan – British Bulldog
  • Six covers I really loved 

It is interesting how books where I loved the covers did not live up to expectation and that books with rather nondescript covers were enthralling.

Here is to the next six months of reading. Have fun everyone!

Books · Jottings

June Roundup

Six months done and here I am with my June Roundup a few days late thanks to a momentous couple of weeks at work. I am hoping for a lull in the next few days before I turn my attention to a Summer Ball and end of term, not that I am counting the days – honest.

First some housekeeping:

Now we are in July must go to reminding you all of Six in Six 2016 edition. July is the month to be posting and I am looking forward to seeing what you have all read and hopefully getting some more recommendations.

Turning to my challenges which can be found at the top of the blog. I am a bit behind all of them really, but will stick with aiming for 100 books in the year, 4 Agatha Christie’s and the Random Reads. However I reluctantly am abandoning my Big Read – The Luminaries. Whilst I cannot say I have not had the time to pick up the book and read I have, my brain has not been feeling the same. I have wanted comforting easy, fun reads and this book I do not think fits that category so it is the reason it can go back on my shelf for a future time.

As for the books I have been reading, it is ever a mixture.

Louise Douglas – The Secret by the Lake was a book I picked from netgalley because I had read previous works by this author and enjoyed the intrigued and suspense. This one sadly did not live up to the others.

Not sure how Celia Imrie – Not Quite Nice was going to live up to expectations, I am always dubious about personalities that turn to writing and this was a good story but I think the writing improved throughout the novel and I would be intrigued to see how the story is continued in her latest novel. Not quite convinced as I have been with some authors in the past.

Short Stories have probably been my saviour in June as it is all that my tired brain has been able to cope with. I tend to shy away from stories that are released in parts, because there is nothing more infuriating when you get into a story for it to suddenly stop and you have to wait for the next part.

In the case of Rachel Lucas – Wildflower Bay there was Part 2 to read straight away, but now I have to wait for Part 3 which is actually the last book of the set, so I can find out what happens. All pre ordered and ready to go.

I spot another great sounding book on netgalley, Bella Osborne – Willow Cottage request it and accepted to download, read and review it do I realise it is only part 1 of the story. So now that is another place I have scheduled to revisit.

Thanks to netgalley I have managed to read 2 new authors to me and can heartily recommend Annie Darling – The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. What can there not be to love about a story set in a bookshop!

We all dream of getting away from city life and into the country no more so than in this book Heidi Swain – Summer at Skylark Farm. Again another new author for me.

So that was June, as the month finished I was reading two books. Another book set in a bookshop and the wonderful My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. An eclectic mix if there ever was.

How was your June? Are you where you want to be reading wise at this point in the year?

Jottings

Victoria Wood

We have lost a number of famous (and infamous) personalities so far in 2016. Hardly any of them have been expected and it always comes as a complete shock. To be honest, I have not been deeply affected by any of them. It is a tragedy that these people have been lost to us when they brought us entertainment, music, literature and everything in between.

However, when they have formed part of your childhood, the way they featured in the background when you were growing up affects you in an odd sort of way. Ronnie Corbett, whilst always to me the lesser of the Two Ronnies, not just in size, but I remember having to sit through episodes of Sorry! when I was younger. Saturday night game shows were a staple of Paul Daniels and his magic as well, no doubt left me open-mouthed as a youngster.

But it is Victoria Wood who probably stands out for me as such a great loss. There must have been so much more to have come from her and to lose her at 62 was a tragedy.

Victoria Wood was always there on the television, I was allowed to watch whatever was on. I am not sure if I understood it, but it was hardly near the knuckle humour scattered with expletives. It was simple humour about everyday stuff that everyday people find funny and they can relate to.

It always reminds me of the humour that exists for only a special select few. There is much in my family that makes us laugh, with play on words and recalled incidents that to an outsider would not be funny at all, to those in the know though it is hilarious.

I was lucky enough to see her live twice on tour and also got to see at least three episodes of dinnerladies being recorded

The most important thing I think I realised a long time ago was that Victoria Wood did not save all the best lines for herself, she gave them to everyone else. Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston, Anne Reid, Maxine Peake to name a few.

She later went onto present documentaries with her own inimitable style. Documentaries I probably would not have watched if it wasn’t for her.

Then there was the serious drama, Housewife 49, Eric and Ernie and That Day We Sang.

Yet again she could do so much, create genius and then give it to everyone else to deliver.

Then there was the music and I know this will have been shared thousands if not millions of times but of course the Ballad of Barry and Freda is amongst the most iconic.

A genius taken from us and her family much too soon.

Jottings · Witterings

English Pronounciation

The internet can throw up some wonderful things, it can also throw some downright rubbish most of the time. However I came across this poem and it just reminded me how wonderful language is and that is one of the reasons why I love reading (and probably writing) so much.

I advise reading it out loud as a challenge, I admit to struggling with a couple of words.

The Chaos – Gerard Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say-said, pay-paid, laid, but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via; Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.

Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Pronunciation—think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough—
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!

Gerard Nolst Trenité, was a Dutch observer of English. Born in 1870, he died in 1946.