Books · Jottings

October Roundup

What a funny old month – the reading slowed down and then has sped up at a great speed due to illness and not being able to sleep! At this point I am grateful to my kindle, but not so grateful to whoever gave me an ear & chest infection along with laryngitis. It has been a quiet and deaf last few days of October.

Anyway, enough of my ailments – what about the books?

In a bid to make a dent in my own bookshelves I only managed to read Katie Fforde – A Secret Garden. A classic Katie Fforde and a perfect piece of escapism. There is something rather comforting relying on particular authors to transport you away, which is why I was eager to read Jenny Colgan – Island Christmas.

I stumble across this series of Colgan books by accident and devoured them all up and then had to wait to continue the wonderful story of the lives and characters of the fictitious island of Mure, based on an island in the Hebrides. If a book inspired you to go somewhere it was these books – in a busy and demanding world sometimes the thought of escape to recapture oneself is a dream.

I am also just discovering more of Milly Johnson’s work and so to take another book that has been languishing on my netgalley shelf this time I picked up Milly Johnson – The Perfectly Imperfect Woman. It had everything in a story that I like and made me keep coming back for more.

Trouble when you start a series of books and you are hooked, you do have to keep coming back for more, which is why I got hold of the last in the trilogy of Lavender Bay Sarah Bennett – Snowflakes at Lavender Bay. I know series have to end, but there are some of the characters I always want to go back and see again – that was this book.

Trying to lose some of what some people might call ‘fluffy’ reading I picked up Lesley Kara – The Rumour. I love rumours, what starts out as something innocent can snowball and gather pace until it bears no resemblance to the truth. But what if some rumours are actually pure simple truth? I say no more, but I think this a book that you are going to have to look out for when published at the end of the year.

Rumours is how many an Agatha Christie is solved, that innocent piece of gossip actually leads Poirot or Marple to the truth. In bid to make my way through her body of work and because I caught the adaptation on the television a while back I picked up Agatha Christie – After the Funeral. Some might think it bizarre to read after the watch, and for the majority I would agree. But when it comes to Dame A sometimes a little prior knowledge means that I approach the book as a challenge and see if I can see the clues.

Rumours and clues and then of course there is secrets. Moving away from women’s fiction, Lily Graham is branching out into dual time narrative historical fiction and she is winning the race. Lily Graham – The Paris Secret is a book which reminds you of the innocence of love during wartime and what some of the consequences could be. Fascinating.

Finally, I got to Joanna Nell – The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which is another book been hanging around the netgalley shelf. It is a lovely quiet read, that takes you all the way to Australia – I did not realise this until about two-thirds of the way through the book. (*rolls eyes*). I did not even pick it up from the language, but it tells the story of the women in a retirement village who are not quite yet ready to retire from living a life!

So that was October, and whilst I write this in November and having already finished one book I am hoping that the lurgy dispatches soon as much as I enjoy all the stories, I would like some actual sleep at night.

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Books · Jottings

September Roundup

Normally I have to confess my September reading tails off mainly due to being back to work and feeling like I have overread when I have had so much time at home during August. But this year, 2018 seems to be a very different year. I am 12 books ahead in my challenge and read a respectable 9 in September and one of them was over 700 pages long!

I am fairly new to Milly Johnson books and there is a few to catch back up with, but Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner and her latest Milly Johnson – The Mother of all Christmases were both enjoyed in September, even if one of them had a slight Christmas feel! Unfortunately the ARC copy I had via netgalley was very badly formatted and it took a while to get going, but when I did I will say it was a lovely book to read.

Talking of Christmas I completed two series of books with Karen Clarke – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove. Reading quite a lot of authors who are of a similar vein, some are more stronger than others and I have to say this series was not quite so good and I think I will certainly think twice about embarking on another read from her, not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the writing, but I know there are other books out there which are much stronger and also lots of books I have to read as well!

I don’t think I will venture far away from Holly Martin – Coming Home to Maple Cottage all of her novels have been a delight so warm and funny, I just have to keep reading. Christmas is the perfect time for a family to come together.

I only discovered Emma Davies this year and when I say she was writing a series of books around one place, I thought I would give them a go – what turned into a read to save for my holidays got absolutely devoured long before I had even sailed away on my cruise. Which is why I was there on day of publication for Emma Davies – Return to The Little Cottage on the Hill. Bringing to life the life of a blacksmith as well as the well cooked food and the people of Joy’s Acre. I have just preordered the next one!

Without netgalley I know I would not have been able to try half the books I have read and that is where I stumble across many an author and which is why then they have a new book I always like to go and see what it is all about which is why I found myself with Jennifer Joyce – The Single Mums’ Picnic Club. I am always in two minds about reading books featuring babies, mums etc as having had or been neither I do wonder if it will be as enthralling as they maybe to mothers? Only they can answer that question I suppose but this was a great book to show how friendships can be formed with different women with different backgrounds with the commonality of being a mum.

Food is a great way to draw people together and many books feature the joy of food cooking, catching, growing, eating, preparing and when you mention patissiere you can imagine the glorious feeling of biting into a fresh chocolate eclair and the cream just oozing out! Therefore reading Julie Caplin – The Little Paris Patisserie was like this without the calories. The story for me was weaker than her previous two novels in this series, but it made me want to break a choux pastry recipe and do them for myself.

A lot of the books I have read in September have been modern, contemporary novels and whilst Tracy Rees – Darling Blue is a modern author who manages to write historical fiction that just about manages to fit in that genre as her books change with each story and fit in nothing but the Tracy Rees box. Tracy wrote me a lovely message after the review of her latest was published here on this blog

It’s always nice to hear positive things about my books and especially so when I feel the reader really got it! I love how you said about each book being different and not fitting into the genre box. That’s something that’s really important to me, to keep doing something different and try for variety even within the loose category of ‘historical fiction. It’s not playing safe but it keeps me interested and hopefully gives each book its own life.

It always crosses my mind that if an author reads my review they may not like it. Of course not every book is for every person even if you have read from the author before. But so far for me Tracy Rees has delivered.

Of course fans of this blog (if there are any out there) should know I am a fna of Lucinda Riley and for me her books continue to deliver book after book.

Having finished The Pearl Sister back in August when Lucinda Riley – The Moon Sister landed on the mat, I had two options – place it reverently by the bed, thinking oh how wonderful I have this to read and I get to experience the story of The Seven Sisters or dive straight in and indulge in whatever story comes away from the page. reader I did the latter and so glad I did. The review is to follow as I want the book to settle in my mind, for the vibrations to continue that bit longer as I try to consolidate how I really feel about this story. One thing is for sure, each one is my favourite and I cannot distinguish between the first five.

So a pretty good September, but I know for October I want to get an inroad into my actual teetering pile of books I have around my home. The kindle and netgalley is a wonderful thing but I feel I need to hold onto some actual books for a while.

Happy Reading in October.

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

August Roundup

What a month August has been – I have been away on my first cruise to Norway and had a lovely three week break from work and of course read some wonderful (and not so) books.

So where to start – with the not so books I think.

Kim Barnes – In the Kingdom of Men has been sat on my shelf for a very long time and I decided in a bid to read some on my shelf to pick this one up. Set in the lates 1960s, around the oil industry between America and the Arabs it was a very claustrophobic novel which really did not come to much until the last thirty pages or so of the book. I have read it and passed it on. Someone else might get more from it than me.

When I picked the latest Nicky Pellegrino – A Year at Hotel Gondola I knew what I was expecting to get, sadly I was disappointed with the strnegth of character but I was transported away to Italy and Venice, so there was some good to be had.

Carol Wyer – Take a Chance on Me was another book that had been sitting on my netgalley shelf for a long time and I thought again it was about time I made room on their too! A book that you could read when you needed something that did not hold your attention, I have read better.

I took a chance on Lesley Eames – The Silver Ladies of London when I spotted it. A lovely historical saga with four female protagonists with different backgrounds finding themselves in London, no where to live, no job and only a Roll Royce. What more could a girl want in the 1920s. A great saga and I will look out for more by this author.

Sometimes when you are reading, all you want to go back to is what you know and love which is why I have picked up authors I know I am going to get a great story from.

I am keeping up with this series, thanks in part to netgalley but also because I am so involved with the characters which is why I couldn’t wait to read Nancy Revell – Victory for the Shipyard Girls – when it appeared on netgalley. Forget soap operas – this series is much better.

I am lucky to get access to current releases early thanks to netgalley and some I read straight away and some I hold to and read at another time – don’t ask me what the logic is I don’t know myself. Anyway I caught up with last years Christie Barlow release and thought let’s just dive into this years so I did with Christie Barlow – A Home at Honeysuckle Farm which takes you from New York to a small village from losing your dreams to finding them again. And this is a book to get you in the mood for the upcoming series of Strictly!

Julie Caplin – The Little Brooklyn Bakery – last time I went to Copenhagen this time it is Brooklyn. THat is the beauty of reading it can transport you anywhere! This is the second in the series of books and I thik much better than the first. I have the third to read and I cannot wait to be transported away again.

Binge is very much a word of recent times – Binge Eating and Binge Watching spring to mind – then there is Binge Reading. I know I probably don’t really qualify for the amateurs even when it comes to Binge Reading, but when I discover an author and a particular story I am sometimes hooked that I have to read the next one in the series. Which is why I was going to take Emma Davies – The Little Cottage on the Hill on holiday with me but then I started reading it and was hooked so went straight into Emma Davies – Summer at The Little Cottage on the Hill before I had even thought about packing! I have just downloaded the third in the series and preordered the fourth!

Looking at my lists, it seems that I only have one Heidi Swain to catch up on, which oddly enough is her first novel. I will get to that I promise but in the meantime I could not help delving into Heidi Swain – Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square which moves away (but close) to the lovely Wynbridge and all its characters. But no fear I was back there in her Christmas (yes I said the word) Heidi Swain – Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland though you will have to wait a while for the review for this one!

And finally I come to Lucinda Riley – The Pearl Sister. You could say I have saved the best for last and whilst that is partly true it is more to do with the fact that I have had this book for a year and it is by my bed sat being unread – it is almost as if I do read it the magic of the anticipation of the novel goes away. How daft, thinks me so I got on and read it in August – it is a mighty tome to read and not very conducive to lying down in bed but easy enough for sitting in the shade while the heat was baring down. It is everything I anticipated and more and now having the next one in the series, I am not making the same mistake – I started it straight away when it arrived.

So that was my August, some mighty fine reading and I am motoring through books, not sure why but there you go. Too hot perhaps to do anything else these last two months.

So as we turn to Autumn I feel the Christmas reads will be on me soon and I will be dreaming about the days of Summer and all the lovely places I have been.

How was your August? What are you looking forward to in September?

 

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As with the weather my reading has continued to heat up and with not being able to knit and nothing on the television I have been motoring along.

I gave up with one book because it was not working as I knew I had plenty more to be reading, especially to make a dent in my netgalley shelf.

It has been a month of catching up with favourite authors and interesting characters and returning to lovely places.

The first book finished in July was Jenny Colgan – Endless Beach which carried on a story which I started in June and I get to go back there towards the end of the year when the next part is out. I am fairly new to Colgan’s work but loving the stories.

Cornwall is a big draw for many people and many authors to set their books. I went back to the Scilly Isles with Phillipa Ashley – Summer on the Little Cornish Isles and completed the tale. I rediscovered characters from a while back when I was with Ali McNamara – Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van.

As summer holidays start around the country it is always lovely to escape into reading and getting some sunshine in Holly Martin – The Cottage on Sunshine Beach or perhaps smelling the lavender that is billowing in the fields in Sarah Bennett – Summer at Lavender Bay. Although these books are of a similar ilk which I do not deny, they are such joyus books to read and provide laughter, tears and pure escapism.

A canal boat holiday is something that I have never partook in but has always intrigued me and I had Christie Barlow – The Cosy Canal Boat Dream sitting waiting to be read for over a year. What a great story which had so much, canal boats, cinemas and cake!

Of course you can’t beat a summer wedding and in Jennifer Joyce – The Wedding that changed Everything the wedding is a week long in a castle! With treasure hunts, quizzes and cocktails what more could you ask, but when families get together tensions run high.

Adding something different into the mix, meant I picked up Rachel Brimble – The Mistress of Pennington’s set in the Edwardian times, it reminded me of one of those sunday night tv dramas brought to life on the page. I have read better and it was a bit long and drawn out but could have been much stronger.

Another book which did not quite live up to what I was expecting was Cathy Hopkins – Dancing over the Hill, the previous novel I had read was good – this did not really live up to it and I felt quite flat by the end of it, perhaps because I could not relate to some of the plot?

I definitely could not relate to Poppy Dolan – Confessions of a First Time Mum, but no matter as this was laugh out loud funny and written so well there was something for everyone, mum or otherwise in the book.

I am wanting to work my way through the works of the great Agatha Christie and spurred on my recent repeats of Poirot on ITV3 I started Agatha Christie – The Clocks. Poirot comes late into the story as opposed to the TV adaptation but nonetheless I think was a well written book which had the red herrings and got the little grey cells working. Another one off the list.

Finally for this month I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in Six in Six. If you have and not let me know then please leave a link so I can make sure you are mentioned in the round up post which will feature soon.

On with more reading….how was your July?

Jottings · Witterings

June Roundup

So there went June in a blaze of heat and potential glory for football depending on your outlook – mine being a non football one!

I am rather chuffed with the reading I have done in the last month, even six months that of course means July is the time to post our Six in Six – I do hope you can join me and please spread the word so we can get a few more this year!

So let me get on with what I have read……. Lily Graham – The Island Villa was a different read from her previous novels but it was really good and took me away, abroad without having to set foot on a plane! A proper summer read.

Talking of Summer you can’t beat a bit of gossip so why not indulge in Kat French – A Summer Scandal about an abandoned pier which is brought back to life by its new owner – but it will not be all kiss me quick hats and candy floss!

Catching up on authors previous work and not wanting to read parts of stories – led be to hold on and read the whole of Cathy Bramley – The Lemon Tree Cafe she is fast becoming a favourite author and I think now is the time to publish her stories as a whole from the start!

I caught up with the lovely saga of Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls in Love and I am thrilled to learn that there is more to come in this series of books.

Yet again the kindle was used considerably in June – damn that netgalley I say but I make a concerted effort to read actual books, because I do love holding them – which is why I went to Jenny Colgan – The Summer Seaside Kitchen bought on a whim because I had actually bought the second in this series – I hate to read things out-of-order. Which led me to discover Jenny Colgan – A Very Distant Shore a QuickReads novel with the characters I had grown to love in the first book – which led me to immediately picking up the second and reading it as June finishes and then to be delighted to hear that there will be a Christmas one too! I love to be able to consume books like this and get lost in another place.

A.J. Pearce – Dear Mrs Bird had been in the press and across social media and not wanting to miss out, I purchased the hardcover copy of this. What a wonderful gem of a book which will take a place on my shelf and without a doubt be reread. There is something so gentle about this book which is caught up in the middle of the bombing in London during the Second World War.

I went back to the First World War with Rosie Meddon – The Housekeeper’s Daughter. An author I do not know and whilst the book was not particularly strong it did hold some intrigue and picked up but I am not sure if I would read the next book. There are a lot of books I have waiting to be read.

One that had been sitting around for a while was Hazel Gaynor – The Cottingley Secret. I had read a previous novel by this author and was enchanted. I was bound to be with this one – it contains fairies of course. I knew of the story but this fictionalised it and perhaps makes you think.

That was June, over my target in terms of books read for my 2018 goal – and enjoying the football because that means more reading as nothing on the TV! It also means less knitting – too hot!

Books

May Roundup

Last May was the month of the kindle – it seems this May was too!

That is the trouble with netgalley I get over enthusiastic with all the lovely new books and authors I can read that I find I am slightly swamped. But I made a good dent into the list and have read some really lovely books.

I reached the end of Liz Eeles – Annie’s Summer by the Sea which as the trilogy progressed got better with each book. Of course this book was set in Cornwall which is a popular setting for many authors that I read and it really does add something to the story.

I also reached the last book Holly Hepburn – Starry Skies at Castle Court. I really do try not to request books on netgalley that are parts of a story – however not paying attention made me get the first of this new series. I therefore had to keep reading the others. But if you can bear to wait then you need to be looking out for a book called A Year at Castle Court. I have nearly fallen into that trap again in recent days! But I resisted and just added them to my wish list on amazon to remember for the future.

Talking about series of books and being a bit too request happy on Netgalley, ages ago I downloaded Karen Clarke – The Cafe at Seashell Cove and it sat waiting to be read and then I spotted Karen Clarke – The Bakery at Seashell Cove. Knowing that I had not read the first spurred me on and I read them back to back which meant that I was really involved in Seashell Cove for a lovely while. A place for a holiday that’s for sure.

Amongst all this new reading I do try and get to the many books sitting on my shelf. It has been a while for this one Katharine McMahon – The Woman in the Picture. This is a follow-up to The Crimson Rooms which I read eight years ago and I was immediately taken right back as if I had only just left the characters. In the centenary of women’s suffrage this was a timely book to be reading.

I love my historical fiction even if it is not necessarily considered highbrow but comes in the saga form which is how I came to pick up Elaine Roberts – The Foyle’s Bookshop Girls. I did think that maybe I would get to see a bit more of an insight into the Foyle’s bookshops than I did get. However it was great writing and yet again I will need to revisit!

I have only read a few books by this author but Emma Hannigan – The Wedding Promise was one of the last written before she sadly died recently of cancer. This was a lovely book, really heartwarming and I escaped abroad with the characters.

I have even been to Copenhagen with Julie Caplin – The Little Cafe in Copenhagen. Embracing the concept of Hygge in your life to make you stop and take stock of what is going on around you and how it is affecting you!

Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a title you might have seen gracing many bookshop shelves in recent months. I was aware of it but didn’t really know much else. My friend read it and lent it to me. A good read that reminded me of The Rosie Project a lot of the time and also of myself in a self reflective way.

Well that was May, I am motoring through books on my kindle and trying to make more of an effort with those on my shelf too.

I wonder where June will take me? If you are wondering about the Six in Six – it will return for 2018!

Where has May taken your reading?

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

April Roundup

What a month! A holiday from work, various hospital appointments, plenty of knitting, a Royal Baby, plenty of cake, couple of days at Ragdale Hall and of course plenty of reading!

Where do I start really in looking back at what I have read?

Well I am really trying to make a dent in all the books I have on my netgalley list – I get a bit clicky happy when I see a lovely bright cover and something that is going to give me the feel good factor – which I need in buckets.

Which is why I went and caught up with Annie Darling – True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop and then discover there is another one out as I had got behind with the series! I think I liked this book more than the first.

Heidi Swain – Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage was another catch up and Heidi is fast becoming a favourite author who you know as soon as you pick up a book you are going to get a great story! I still have to catch up with The Cherry Tree Cafe and of course I have her new novel waiting and tempting me on my kindle! Damn that netgalley!

Then of course I hear that Fern Britton had a new novel out earlier in the year and I realised I had not read Fern Britton – The Postcard which I had hanging around on my kindle. Why had I not read this earlier – who knows and there is part of me which thinks I should stop putting off reading books by my favourite authors – I treat them with such reverence!

Of course I need to make a dent in the books on the shelves as well and so picked up Kathleen Tessaro – The Perfume Collector which took me on a lovely journey from New York and Paris and the mystery of the art of scent.

Alan Bradley – The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches was the only male author who I read this month – it has been a very female dominated one. But I got back to the delightful Flavia and enjoyed her latest escapade! Flavia is one to watch for the future.

We all probably said the same about Hillary Rodham Clinton – What Happened. I really spent about three months reading this book, as I dipped in and out of it as whilst it wasn’t heavy going it was a book to concentrate on, not for light reading before bedtime! Thank you to everyone who commented on my review/post I was not sure what sort of reaction I was going to get. It is certainly a step away from my normal reading choice.

The joy of blogging means that you do get to find out about other authors and of course that is what led me to pick up Elizabeth Taylor – The Wedding Group. I found it a lonely read in both plot and character and did not enjoy it as much as Mrs Palfrey.

In the centenary year of (some) women getting the vote I was thrilled to get an advance review of Lissa Evans – Old Baggage. I am rather a late comer to Lissa Evans but this book is excellent and focuses on what happened once they got the vote – where did all those women go and what did they do?

Some women still want to live no matter how old they are or what their family thinks. You should certainly read Judy Leigh – A Grand Old Time if you think that age has become a barrier to enjoying wine, men, food and campervans.

Enjoying food is certainly a hobby of mine and I like baking but all of a sudden I want to make chutney and jams thanks to reading Veronica Henry – A Family Recipe her latest novel. I need to dig out my mum’s old recipe books now!

I whizzed through Holly Martin – The Holiday Cottage by the Sea simply because she is another author I really enjoy and she seems to capture romance and humour with fascinating jobs and lives and add a big bit of raciness in it that makes me keep reading and reading. I realise I have the White Cliff Bay series to catch up on, not that I am short of books to read.

As the month came to an end I started a new book – I love that feeling of choosing something with inly a rough idea of what you are going to get between the covers and on the pages and whether it is going to draw you in. And of course it means more books ticked off the netgalley list and moved from the burgeoning bookshelves!

Happy reading in May.