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?

Books · Jottings

May Roundup

Here we go then May done and dusted. How did that happen?

I am trying my best to read my shelves as well as all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) books I am lucky enough to get through netgalley.

I aim to do more of the shelf reading as we go into June. But for May I took off Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions which had been hanging around for a while and I don’t know why because I was fascinated with this novel and whilst I have not reviewed I would certainly recommend it to readers who like the gothic and the ghostly.

Another book which has to have been on the shelf even longer was Judy Finnigan – Eloise. This was her first novel and very readable, it kept me hooked and whilst I was intrigued by the characters, despite some of the weakness they had in being fully formed by the author there was something about the writing which felt very simplistic. I have her second to read so I want to see if anything has improved. That said if you want a simple readable novel you cannot go far with this one.

Then you get readable novels which are wonderfully written and cleverly plotted and tell stories of the past and present and this was very much so with Liz Fenwick – The Path to the Sea. The latest novel is for of secret and mystery and the setting is in almost three dimensions it is so wonderfully described. I really must get round to reading the other Liz Fenwick books I have.

I have read some Tilly Tennant books and loved them and I have read some and thought they were missing something and had become a bit pedestrian. But I dived into Tilly Tennant – Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts and was suitably surprised. Sometimes you have to stick with authors, they can suddenly surprise you!

No more so when I picked up Ali McNamara – Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay another author whose books I was not keen on from the early part of her oeuvre but who has suddenly developed and become someone whos books I really love to read. Her latest is no different and the added bonus of some mystery and some ghosts made it a book to enjoy and probably read again.

Another bonus is a free book and that was the case with Cathy Bramley – We’ll Meet Again whose free short story via Amazon gives some background to the new serialised novel she has coming out soon. I am going to be patient and wait until the whole thing is out and I was really good and did not read the preview which was also included in the short story.

Of course I go back to authors again and again, which is why I visited Emma Davies – The House at Hope Corner having devoured her books last year and was thrilled to be immersed once again and in a wonderful plot and with delightful characters and the expectation of more novels towards the end of the year.

Catching up with a series is always a blessing and I am slightly jealous of people who have yet to start the Mirabelle Bevan series but I thoroughly enjoyed Sara Sheridan – Indian Summer. If you want strong female characters, history and mystery then this is the series for you.

I am a bit behind with Rachel Dove’s series of novels which have been set in Westfield. So with the opportunity to read her latest, I thought I better get on and catch up with the residents which is why I was with Rachel Dove – The Flower Shop on Foxley Street. 

It might seem I read nothing but authors that I know and love and of course I do, but at one time they had to be authors who were new to me and this is the case with Emma Rous – The Au Pair. A debut novel and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat despite its initial flaws, the writing, the plot and the author is one to be intrigued by.

Quite a good month of reading and I also made the decision to let loose a book that I wasn’t getting on with too. Such a relief to not trawl through something that is bringing you no joy whatsoever.

So on with June, I am up to speed with my yearly Goodreads Challenge and of course look out for Six in Six which will make a return for the select few who join in. I would love for you to spread the word when I put the post up.

Happy Reading in June.

Books · Jottings

April Roundup

April is always a holiday time for me and this year I got a bonus few extra days, which were needed after a particular horrific two weeks preceding my leave. I was at the point when I was not even reading I was so stressed, but luckily I had only a little reading slump and with a rest, I soon found enjoyment again in picking up a book.

Caroline Roberts – Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is a first in a new series of books from this author. I have never read any of her work before but I shall go back and do so. This was a joyous and uplifting book I could not help but be caught right up in the story and the characters.

Another author I know I can rely on is Heidi Swain and her new novel, published at the end of May Poppy’s Recipe for Life takes us back to Nightingale Square and the community garden I would so love to be a part of. I am still one book short of having read all of Heidi’s current oeuvre.

Another author whose books I champion on this blog is Lucinda Riley and as I have received books from her publishers I don’t jump to read them immediately because I know I am going to be so engrossed and what to savour the time. This was no different with The Angel Tree which had been sat on my shelf for a while. Of the joy of holding a book, I so miss it when I am reading on my kindle. This is reissue of a previous novel (I had not read) and was a great book to get lost in, which I did.

I had a real sort out of books and tidied my shelves and having made one concerted effort to read an actual book I decided to attack some more so picked up Gervase Phinn – The School at the Top of the Dale. You cannot go wrong with some gentle Yorkshire humour, Yorkshire weather and the joys of children. This is the first in a new series, I hope there is more.

Less gentle fiction was with Anna Hope – Expectation her latest novel and such a difference to her previous two novel. Wake her debut novel stays with me to this day. This very modern book made me stop and think and wonder about what we all expect from life. Can we always deal with what it throws us?

Bella Osborne – A Walk in Wildflower Park her latest 4 part novella published as whole was again something I was not expecting. It was a story that could have gone many ways and it did but certainly not what I was expecting and was a real move away from perhaps the more gentle women’s fiction that I had come to expect from this author.

Making a dent in the number of books on my actual shelves made we also go through what I have languishing on my kindle. Which is why I decided to start Erica James – The Dandelion Years, an author I have not encountered before and I really don’t know why. This was a lovely story which took me back to Bletchley Park during the Second World War and to a house full of sadness and joy in the present day and the story of books, diaries and lost loves. I will be seeking out some other Erica James if they are all as good as this one.

Sticking with the past is how I ended up with Hazel Gaynor – The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter which told me a fictionalised story of Grace Darling but also a lot more besides. A poignant novel where the actions of one can have reactions for so many more that they live with for a very long time.

Still in Victorian times is how I ended up with Vivian Conroy – Death Comes to Dartmoor a cosy murder mystery novel, the second in the series. Not having read the first one I felt a bit out of touch with the characters but there was something about the book which just didn’t enamour me but I don’t know what it was and I did finish it – I think to see if I could work out who the culprit was more than an interest in anything else.

I am certainly going to start reading more of what I have on my shelf as I have made a real dent in my netgalley list. I have rejected a couple of books this month as well, one because it was not capturing me and then another because it was too upsetting. It was well written and the subject matter was clearly well researched but for me I found it such hard work as it felt I was almost within the pages experiencing it for myself I knew I didn’t have the emotional energy to get to the end of the book. A strange feeling.

As time goes on, I am trying to be more honest about giving up on books which are just not working for me.

So on with May……