Jottings

Parish Notices

How is your parish faring?

Many words and phrases are new to us – unprecedented we can now all probably spell quite well. As well as ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’, ‘flattening the curve’ and no doubt there will be more which will seep into our subconscious.

I am finding it probably like the rest of you very strange. There are some days when I can cope and there are others where I have not coped at all. I have not been focused on much, reading has taken a bit of a dent as I can’t seem to concentrate, however I make a concerted effort to power through.

The biggest for me has been the exercise and swimming. I was still doing this and going to the gym, it has now since closed and I realise how much swimming is my mind space time. I need it to survive I think. I live near the sea, it may now be time to investigate swimming in it instead.

Whilst pictures of people walking on promenades and in parks yesterday and today has been frowned upon, I can see the other side as we have had hardly any bright dry days to be able to go out and people just needed that shot of blue sky and sunshine. I did go out and run madly up and down a hill and squatted in a space and lunged and did as much as I could to escape the all consuming news of it.

Being distanced means you want to keep in touch and of course I do with as many people as I can, but invariably as breaking news infiltrates you find yourself drawn to the news almost hourly and that in itself can’t be good for us.

I need to find a new normal, a new routine, a new way forward.

I am currently still going to work – I am classed as a key worker under the Public Safety and National Security umbrella, a contractor to one of our armed forces in my case. I cannot work from home, I would if I could and I think as the days go on into next week it will mean less time in the office and condensing the work and only the vital work when I am in.

Let me change the subject and talk books and other things to distract me and you with.

Malory Towers has been made for the BBC and all episodes are going to drop I think tomorrow (Mon 23 Mar) on iPlayer. It will be a sanitised version of Enid Blyton, but who cares, it is a kids programme, but who cares, I am ready to indulge in this with my tuck box ready. I so wish I still had my books from being a child, what a good time to indulge and read them all.

Something to look forward to……30th April sees the publication of the new Heidi Swain novel

If you cannot get to a seaside, this is the perfect way to escape – but you might need to provide your own ice cream

The cover just brings you some cheer doesn’t it?

Recently published is Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay

This really is a book full of warmth. Friendships forged and never forgotten. The cross generational divide which brings communities together works in Lexi’s favour and her passion for all things vintage I am sure would make a book on its own. Of course there is a romantic element within the book and whilst of course these things don’t always run smoothly sometimes the best things for people are simply staring them in the face!

Also recently published is Clover Cottage the third in the Love Heart Lane series by Christie Barlow.

For fans of good women’s fiction which is not light and fluffy but has real depth of emotion and character – read them all from the beginning of the series. You won’t regret it!

It is a long time since I brought you any crafts on this blog, though I have been mentioning it in my look back over ten years. Of course it is another part of my life that along with reading, swimming I use as a tool to keep my somewhat grounded and sane (debatable I know) but I used the opportunity yesterday to finish a Christmas Elf…..

……I know it is only just turned Spring but still I needed to keep busy and he was looking rather forlorn in the bag.

It has cheered my soul, to finish this elf, share these books and have a bit of a natter on here. I am grateful for the many little things, like being able to dry my washing outside and all I can do now is see what tomorrow brings for me and for us all.

Stay Safe.

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 · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2010

This year marks 10 years in August since I started this blog and posting out into the unknown. And as it is a new decade as well, I thought it might be good to reflect back at the last ten years of posting and see how much has changed.

To be honest when I have gone back and looked at some of the posts I have wanted to cringe – did I really say that, did I share that nonsense? I did share a lot more about my crafts in the early posts, which I do not seem to now. Mainly I think because I no longer have a laptop and the only access for a computer (other than work) is when I visit my mum and dad – I have yet to master WordPress on my iPad successfully enough to warrant using it all the time. Perhaps I should endeavour to do more of that in 2020?

The first post I want to link back to is from August 2010 and funnily enough does feature some craft. These were also the days when I had a digital camera and photos were uploaded that way – then along come iPads and iPhones and it all seemed a bit more easier and less of a faff. So much has changed in 10 years.

These are some of the finished projects from that post –

As for the books I read in 2010 – an eclectic mix for sure. Not all of them were reviewed on this blog as I did not start it until three quarters of the way through the year – some of the reviews were originally on Amazon. That said I have looked back and randomly picked out two books (click on the book covers to be taken to the review)

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader.

This is the story of Julie Jacobs who upon the death of her Aunt, her guardian since her mother and father died in a tragic car accident, learns the truth about her name, her place in life, her background and her history. History which goes back to the 14th Century and involves a familiar story to Julie, in fact her favourite – William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and theories about where Shakespeare got his stories from and where they fit into today literature then this is the book for you.

So that is a look back from the posts of 2010 and if anything I have picked up a reminder of the lovely stitching designers I liked and have patterns of galore in my home. The books I read were very varied and I picked up an author I have not read anymore of since 2010 – Deanna Raybourn so I think I might have to rectify that and also share the reviews of the first three novels that I read.

I am going to look at 2011 next, so please pop back at some point over the coming weeks and months to see what I have rediscovered.

 

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!

Books

Parish Notices

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……..well Christmas reading anyway. Though I have purchased the odd present or two! Enough already I hear you say.

I have had rather an up and down week, the NHS have not let my family down but the worry continues. Reading, swimming and crafts have been my crutch as has the odd chocolate bar.

So what is there to tell you about – what might you have missed?

Trisha Ashley – The Christmas Invitation – OUT NOW

It would not be Christmas without a Christmas read from Trisha Ashley, whether it be old or new – and for this year it is her latest novel and she invites us all to Christmas.

Tilly Tennant – The Garden on Sparrow Street – OUT NOW

This is an enchanting tale of loss, grief and moving forward and whilst Christmas is clearly featured the book is very much about the characters, their relationships and is not full on Christmas as some books can be at this time of year.

Katie Ginger – Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage OUT NOW

Esme loves everything about London, her boyfriend, her friends, her job on a top tv cooking programme and the fact she can experience so much about Christmas immediately from her front door.

This is a great festive read and one for all food fans as well. Mouthwatering descriptions of food and the fun of amaetuer recordings of making lots of funny moments.

And you have all of this to look forward to:

Holly Martin’s novels are a joy to read. So heartwarming and like receiving a great big hug all through the power of a few words on paper.

A Five Sparkly Christmas Star read!

The Gift of Happiness is published on 25 October – my full review will be on this blog around that date.

Daisy did not have a happy childhood and when the chance to escape came, she got a job in Buchanans a jewellery shop and her love for the romance of jewellery and her secret passion for making it as well blossomed.

This was a lovely story and the plot pulled you right in…….

A feel good festive read that will keep you warm on the coldest of nights.

The Little Shop on Silver Linings Street is published on 16 October – not long to go now!

This is the final book in the this trilogy set in Bluebell Castle. I have previously described the novels as Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey, with added Chelsea Flower Show and now we are going to add in a Winter Wonderland.

Christmas brings its own magic and can Jess really see herself with Tristan if she could perhaps trust not just him but her own heart?

Starlight over Bluebell Castle is published on 4 November.

I think that is enough for the moment – there is more Christmas Reading lurking around my kindle and my bedside table but I think this is the first Christmas Selection Box you should reach for this year!

I am currently slightly Christmassed out – talking about it for work doesn’t help so I have reverted back to an Agatha Christie before I embark on anymore festive fiction.

*I have received these books in exchange for an honest review and I receive nothing in payment for recommendation more than once on this blog or on any other social media channel I use. I simply pass on the books that have given me joy. 

Books

Parish Notices

Hello everyone – how are you coping with the hot weather (if you have had any). It becomes too hot to knit, crochet or do anything crafty so I do resort to jigsaws and going to bed early and reading more.

It has been a month since I was last wittering on my parish notices so I thought I better tell you about some of the books that you may have missed out on and also some great books coming up!

First of all have you heard about Six in Six? Check out the link here which explains how it works but already some people are posting their choices and linking back to me so I can collate them all into a roundup post in August. My choices are coming soon. Please do spread the word. We are a select few that take part every year, but it would be great if there was more.

You will have to see if this book features on any of my choices but I recommend this and the previous novel about Heartcross, Love Heart Lane and it’s residents.

Six months ago, I discovered Love Heart Lane in the village of Heartcross, a lovely Scottish village which had been at the centre of Christie Barlow’s first novel in what is turning out to be a series. Back with familiar faces and the spectacular scenery of the highlands meant I knew was going to be in for a treat.

Such is the quality of the plotting and the writing that you can be swept away to this little village in the highlands and know that you could fit right in.

Both Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm are out now.

If I could not move to the Highlands then I want to move to The Little Village of Happiness, the latest novel from Holly Martin

The little village in Cornwall needs people and in return for a years free rent for both accommodation and shop, Willow sees it as the perfect opportunity to escape from the gossip of her town and to lick her wounds from being dumped the day after getting engaged.

I could escape completely within the pages of the book. The characters made me laugh and cry – they also made me cross with their actions too! This books isn’t just full of light fluffy romance, there are some interesting issues dealt with sensitively and they made the plot so much richer and thoughtful.

The Little Village of Happiness is out now.

Of course you could always move abroad……

Grace loves her job at the storage company, even more so when she discovers long lost treasures and items of interest.

When opening one unit, belonging to a Connie Levine. Grace discovers a whole life inside and one with a very interesting story. Grace is determined to discover the truth and reunite these items with their rightful owner.

As we are transported to Italy with Grace she starts to embrace what might have been Connie’s life and what brought to her Italy, what happened to her during the war and why she has left in storage,  expensive paintings and items of jewellery.

A Postcard from Italy is out now.

Of course you could forgo abroad and just stay in a castle.

I almost feel like I could step into the castle and be apart of the renovation, the history and also its  future.

The second in the Bluebell Castle Trilogy from this author who will be making many people smile with her Happy Ever Afters for years to come.

Sunshine over Bluebell Castle it published on 5 August.

Sometimes though it is best just to stay at home.

Sometimes your name can dictate where your home is meant to be.

The Culbones have always lived in Rushbrook House, across the brook from them is Dragonfly Farm home to the Melchiors. The well to do, rich, higher in society than the rundown farm and the farmers across the water.

A family saga set in Somerset, with secrets, cider, romance, friendship, new beginnings and a place for everyone to call home.

The latest from Veronica Henry is published on the 25 July.

So many places you could go and the beauty of books means you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your favourite reading spot!

So that is what has been happening around this parish – what about yours?

Books · Jottings

June Roundup

Of course now we are into July you can start posting your Six in Six posts. If you don’t know what I am on about please check out the link here and share what has been good and not so good in the last 6 months.

I packed a lot into the month of June, mainly because we have had some awful rainy days where there is nothing better than curling up with a book but also some blistering hot days when it is too hot to do anything apart from read and cool down with a gin and tonic.

Of course when you read it can be summer all the time and this month was certainly in terms of reading.

I caught up with Liz Eeles – A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle, nothing better than a browse in a bookshop and a strawberry cake for a treat as well. I hope all is still well at the Cosy Kettle.

Not everyone has access to bookshops so the bookshop can come to them it turns out in Jenny Colgan – The Bookshop on the Shore revisiting characters I had not met but a wonderful story which means I need to catch up in what goes on in Scotland.

Scotland happened to be a frequent place for me this month. I was beyond excited to catch up with the villagers of Heartcross in Christie Barlow – Foxglove Farm and even more excited that there will be another book. I don’t get out much!

I embraced Kirsty Wark – The House on the Loch which was a story of a family where tragedy creates a place to stay and the past is clearly affecting the present. Fascinating and well written, I need to read Wark’s debut novel this being the ‘difficult’ second novel.

Then within a page or two I can be transported down to Somerset in Veronica Henry – A Home from Home more family differences and secrets to be discovered.

Somerset is the perfect stop on the way to Cornwall which is where I ended up with Holly Martin – The Little Village of Happiness the premise an intriguing one – come and stay in the village of Happiness for a year with your own house and shop for free. Some people need to work at their happiness.

Of course you can go abroad for the summer to find out the answers to some questions and find your own happiness as well, Italy seems a popular place. Alex Brown – A Postcard from Italy a mix of modern and historical fiction in a change from what you would expect from Alex Brown. Though the glorious village of Tindledale is mentioned as it is in the little short story as well Alex Brown – The Great Summer Sewing Bee.

Some people see festivals as their holiday time and interspersed with weddings they can also make a summer. Annie Robertson – Four Weddings and a Festival takes you there in what I can only describe as a love letter of a book to Richard Curtis films and Hugh Grant!

But even if it is not all romance and weddings, festivals and farms it can still be very much families as it was in Agatha Christie – Dumb Witness. Another one to tick off my list and realise the brilliance of the writing and the plot.

What has you start to summer been like?