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.

 

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Books · Jottings

Six in Six – The Sixth Roundup!

First of all a very big THANK YOU to everyone who joined in. We might be a select bunch but I hope those that have just read our posts are inspired some more in their reading, to all the new blog followers, watchers and readers it has been great to discover your little piece of the internet.

We have lots of lovely new categories for next year and I hope that we have also discovered lots of new blogs as well. Here is a list of everyone that joined in this year. If I have missed you off or you know someone who took part but failed to link back to me, then let me know and I can add.

Happy reading and discovering folks!

A Darn Good Read

Books Please

She Reads Novels

Beyond Eden Rock

Whatmeread

The Bookworm Chronicles 

Cleopatra Loves Books

Secret Library

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Cosy Books Blog

See you in 2018!

 

Books · Jottings

June Roundup

Another six months done, halfway through 2017 and just one book short of being halfway through my yearly target of 100 – not bad say I.

Of course I have been compiling my Six in Six post, to be featured on this blog soon and I am looking forward to reading all of yours. It has meant I have gone back and reflected on what I have been reading and I have to confess it is certainly seems to be predominantly womens fiction, not perhaps as literary as some years but do you know what I have enjoyed the books and just simply enjoying reading.

There is a lot of going back to authors that I love and genres that I love. Which is why I was delighted to read Sarah Bennett – Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove, having read her first at the beginning of the year and I see that there will be another by the end of the year.

Again another author I read at the beginning of the year led me to her next novel Karen Clarke – The Beachside Flower Stall. I am hoping that there will also be another one by the end of the year, no doubt Christmas dominated!

Whilst I spend my own time dealing with the vagaries of the NHS, I caught up with more doctors in Penny Parkes – Practice Makes Perfect and a lovely short story Penny Parkes – Swept Away. Again it looks like I can continue with this author and storyline in the future too.

I suppose it is almost of a soap opera quality (though far better I hasten to add) that you can continue these stories with characters and places that you grow to love.

Ali McNamara – The Summer of Serendipity, took be back to a place I had visited before and reminded me that authors can get better.

Another of my favourite things is dual narratives, where it feels like you are reading two stories that are clearly interlinked but you have no idea how, why or where. Laura Madeleine – Where Wild Cherries Grow is a fine example of this book and also one, where actually both narratives can be set in the past, in this case 1919 and 1969. It works and works wonderfully well.

A Gin and Tonic always works well for me, and over the last twelve months I have certainly investigated more of the different gins as opposed to the run of mill ones. Therefore Catherine Miller – The Gin Shack on the Beach appealed to me. With some feisty elderly folk and a matron that could quite easily have stepped out of a Carry On film this book was an easy fun read.

I do love my saga type novels and therefore I picked up Mary Gibson – Jam and Roses, probably because of the cover. For a change in setting, this one was between the wars and around the time of the General Strike, so it was great not to have war as the overarching the whole novel. A really good read and author I am now going to read more especially when one of the books is titled Bourbon Creams and Tattered Dreams.

A book rightly placed in the setting of the World War Two, Audrey Reimann – Flora’s War shows how some people go to extreme measures to get what they want, even if there is a war on and they should be helping others.

Here is to another month of reading what I enjoy the most.

Books

March Roundup

2017 is marching on and it is yet time to reflect back at what I have read this month. A varied choice and one where it really reflects that I am reading as I fancy and trying not to be dictated to by deadlines. This can be a challenge when so many lovely books have been appearing on netgalley. I am determined to get that feedback ratio to a better number!

Amazingly and I noticed it – all but one of the nine books I read this month were on my kindle. How I missed holding a book, in fact I am sure I craved it at times. When I did pick up a book I went to a well trodden series and one I am enjoying James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins. I would like to complete the whole collection of these in terms of reading the hardback copies which are beautiful in themselves, providing the publisher does not change the artwork near the end of the series.

I love a charming novel that you can sink your teeth into and escape for a few hours and when the novel is published as a whole it will be one I will recommend but luckily I got to finish reading Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home and Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: A New Start. There will be more on this blog about the book in the weeks to come.

I noticed that Tilly Tennant had a new novel coming out and it appeared to be a follow on to one that I had on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) and I thought perhaps I had inadvertently stumbled into another series of books, published as short stories first before the final novel. However with Tilly Tennant – Rome is Where the Heart is I got a whole novel (a good 300 pages) and fell in love with Rome and the characters who now I have to go back and revisit in the next part. Luckily I have that to read and cannot wait to go back and be part of their lives again.

Going back to authors you know is always comforting and reassuring especially when you know what you’re going to get. Going to Dinah Jefferies – Before the Rains meant that not only was I going to get an excellent story I was going to learn something at the same time. This time I was transported to India, a time which was changing as British Rule was coming to its end. A fascinating tale.

I do love my history and I suppose with Andrew Wilson – A Talent for Murder I was getting some more that. Except this book which I think you are going to see a lot when it is published in May. It’s main character is Agatha Christie herself – bet that got your attention! I say no more at this time.

Of course going back to what you know and love is always good, but finding something new to read is just as! This is why I have discovered the wonderful tale of Jennifer Bohnet – Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera. 

A perfect read when on holiday or a read when you want to escape from the dull greyness and want some bright sunshine and good story.

All books are an escape perhaps some more than others, lots make you think when you least expect it. Cathy Hopkins – The Kicking the Bucket List is an example of that.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that.

Then there is the sheer joy that books can bring, just simply by the story they tell and the feeling you get when you have read it, knowing that behind the bright colourful cover there was something to be found. The cover of Poppy Dolan – The Bluebell Bunting Society made me smile before I had even read it.

As March ends I am in fact in the middle of reading three books which is very unlike me. Luckily they are all different, in different eras that I have been able to achieve this without my brain going into a complete meltdown. What I do need to do though is to start finishing them (if you excuse the oxymoron) there are plenty of books waiting in the wings.

You may have noticed a slight difference in blog layout and colours, I hope it is not too offensive on the eye, but felt like a fresh change. It is Spring after all.

 

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?