Books · Jottings

August Roundup

If you have been following this blog for a while, you will probably know that August is a bumper month when it comes to reading and this August was seemingly no different.

Despite buying more books (as if I need them!) I was trying to make a more concerted effort to read from shelves and so that is how I came to pick up Jane Healey – The Animals at Lockwood Manor which had been languishing for a while. It was a rather strange book, with a gothic twist set during the war, but I have feeling these types of books never really feel like that with me. It was a pleasant enough diversion and made room on the shelf for my purchases.

A book of the year and one that all fans of reading and books must read is this debut Sara Nisha Adams – The Reading List. A book about all those books that have helped us in the past and continue to do so in the present and the future. The story weaved around such classics as Little Women and Rebecca was really impactful and I felt I had a glimpse into another life for a while.

Glimpsing into another life with Mel Giedroyc – The Best Things was like watching a car crash in slow motion, except this was not a car crash but a financial one. As a family disintegrates in front of our eyes, we see how that money is not the answer to all our happiness. I will be intrigued as to what this author produces next. I sensed a lot of research and experience in this book that others might not necessarily have brought to such a novel.

Research is the key to all historical fiction and it was clear that in Celia Imrie – Orphans of the Storm had an abundance of it. I knew nothing of the real people fictionalised into the book. I knew from the setting of the book and the time period where we would be going with it, but that it was all true was a surprise. I was most grateful to have read this on my kindle which meant that I could not easily flick to the back where all the ‘research’ and ;’real life’ notes were covered. It really would have spoilt the book for me.

I do love my history and when it becomes relatively local to me in setting then I always take bit more of an interest. Tracy Chevalier – A Single Thread was featured heavily on local news when the hardback version was published, but I waited until the paperback copy before I indulged in this glorious tale of Embroiderers’, Winchester Cathedral and the possibilities of being a single woman so soon after the First World War. I have never read any Chevalier before and of course I have heard of her most famous novel The Girl with the Pearl Earring but for some reason have never picked it up. Next time I am in a bookshop…..

Now it looks like August was the month of Catherine’s or Cath’s. First up is Cath Staincliffe – Running out of Road; her latest novel combines three unrelated people caught up in a very modern story, that you could have been reading a news report. You will have felt you have run more than one road when you get to the end. Catherine Cooper – The Chateau is another book which kept me hooked and turning the page until I could begin to make sense of the characters portrayed and they had all ended up in France in this Chateau.

And to have a bit of a rest from all that thrilling adventure it was a pure joy to pick up Cathy Bramley – A Patchwork Family. These are the sorts of books I buy without even reading the blurb on the back and just dive straight in and become immersed in the story. It was beautiful and had me quietly weeping as the joy of brining all generations together to thrive really worked.

Another author I have no doubt about diving straight into is Trisha Ashley – One More Christmas at the Castle and this is her latest. A Christmas novel in August always seems an alien concept but I don’t care the world has been topsy-turvy enough of late to worry about such things. This is a delightful book and I adored it and any fan of Trisha Ashley will too.

Whilst I only have one of Trisha Ashley’s back catalogue to read, I do still have a few more of Caroline Roberts – The Seaside Cocktail Campervan to catch up on. But in the meantime in her latest I was transported to parties, festivals and markets to partake of a cocktail and a pizza or two and to fall in love with the main characters. I do hope we get to see more of them in future novels.

I am up to date with the wonderful Tracy Rees – The Rose Garden and her latest historical offering which brought the plight of various different females, of various different creeds and classes in London near the turn of the twentieth century. How far and how little the position of women has perhaps come in those intervening years. I am now looking forward to coming back to the present with Tracy Rees more contemporary offering for Christmas.

And as the month closes I return to Ann Cleeves and her new detective, Matthew Venn. Ann Cleeves – The Heron’s Cry. A classic piece of writing from this author, in the vein of all her others but with the background of North Devon and the tense conscious of a detective with a methodical clam presence which covers the guilt he seems to carry with him.

The Christmas books are now appearing alarming regularity so I can see how the next couple of months are going to be spent. Hopefully punctuated by some other great reads too. Do keep reading to find out more.

Books

July Roundup

I think this July has held every possible weather combination apart from snow in the South! When it is too hot the only thing I can manage to do is read.

Ploughing through all the wonderful requests I have put in on netgalley, means that I only picked up one actual book in July – Shelia Norton – Escape to Riverside Cottage. A delightful book to get lost in as the main character finds her place in a place in Devon that hardly anyone knows about. I had forgotten how much I enjoy Shelia Norton’s novels.

Escaping is of course what reading and books brings for a lot of people and I escaped a bit further south to Cornwall with Phillipa Ashley – An Endless Cornish Summer where I was immediately plunged into the water and the community that made my heart sing with delight as I turned the pages of this book. Some authors get better and better!

Of course not many people are travelling at the moment and those that are not going far, so I embarked on a couple of road trips through the pages of books. First was Fanny Blake – The Long Way Home, my first time with this author as we saw the unlikely partnership of grandmother trying to find out the truth about her own mother accompanied by a rather begrudging teenager.

Penny Parkes – Home was a book where you did not need to set down any roots, but take yourself wherever the house sitting work too you and lay your head on the next bed. But ultimately for Anna was this enough? A book which I think will be popular this summer.

Trying to find your home when life changes around you makes you want to run away and hide, which is what Ava does when she escapes in Ali McNamara – Hope and Happiness in Bluebell Wood and finds both, what another glorious place and community to be apart of through the pages of a book.

Of course community is a major theme in many books I read and so it was the community that came together in Cathy Lake – The Country Village Summer Fete. Returning back to your home after leaving under a cloud is always going to have tis difficulties but when your first love is still there and perhaps the bright lights of the city were not all they were cracked up to be – it makes you think.

When you live on a small island, then being part of the community is everything and when you are embraced as a visitor after someone has talked about you a lot, it seems right that you should enjoy your holiday. That is until you are faced with a ghost. Emma Davies – The Little Island Secret certainly has lots to tell and somehow combined being a quiet thriller amongst what some could call women’s fiction.

Talking of thrillers, Emma Rous – The Perfect Guests was a choice I made this month, the difficult second novel, but very good. A lightness to it that made it all that more intriguing. A book full of suggestion and it is up to you as a reader whether you pick up on them all!

For me the past has always been intriguing , having a history degree does that for you. So I am always delighted to go back and was more so with A.J. Pearce – Yours Cheerfully the follow up to the wonderful Dear Mrs Bird. You want to know about strong women during the war, then look no further than this book and tell all your friends to read it too!

Female protagonists probably feature quite strongly in my reading, through default not choice and I was delighted to pick up what is to be I think the start of a series Merryn Allingham – The Bookshop Murder. A gentle 1950s village setting, a big house now a hotel, a spinster in charge of a bookshop. It had all the elements of a Golden Age novel and I was expecting Miss Marple to pop up at some point.

So that was July. I must say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has joined in the Six in Six for 2021. I am busy compiling the round up post, so do look out for that.

Let’s crack on with August reading and maybe some book shopping too!

Books

June Roundup

That was June – not quite the flamin’ one of last year but still, one hopes we have some more summer to come or at least some non wet days and blue sky will do me.

As for the reading, the lists are getting a bit out of hand I need to make a dent in the netgalley requests and the books on the shelves, but I have a list of books that I want to buy, thanks to the lovely Between the Covers BBC programme and books that have been popping up all over the internet!

But what have I read?

From the shelves, that have been hanging around a while was Christine Lee – The Midwife’s Sister a perfect for fans of Call The Midwife. Gives a very different side to life in the fifties and sixties and explains a lot perhaps about the relationship that we saw of Jennifer Lee portrayed on the television. It captured me and had me hooked, as I simply was fascinated by their life.

Then another book which captured me was Jean E. Pendziwol – The Lightkeeper’s Daughter a book which I picked up on a whim in a bookshop and had yet to get to. I think it might be about the third or fourth book this year to feature a lighthouse! They do fascinate me and this one took me across the sea to Canada, the only thing I would have liked to have seen in the book was a map of Lake Superior so I could get a sense of the place. Nonetheless a book that was worth the wait and one I would recommend.

Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Wedding was a book which was not on my shelf for very long. One of those impulse supermarket book purchases to cheer the soul and knowing how I have been following the story of the Cornish Cream Tea Bus, it was great to return and catch up.

Then you go and discover a series of books that you have not read when you come to the latest with Jenny Colgan – Sunrise by the Sea which features another lighthouse and is the fourth based on a setting the author has used before, so that is now added to my list. I think they will be great for those comfort reads when you just want to read.

Another author I can always rely on to just take me away is Katie Fforde – Saving the Day and this one is no different. Even better if you are pushed for time because it is one of the short stories featured from the Quick Reads series books which aims to get people reading. I really don’t know where I would be if it was not for the escape that reading gives me.

Some authors give you familiarity and some authors give you great books but you just don’t know what you are going to get when you start those first few pages. Liz Fenwick – The River Between Us is the latest from the author and all of her books get better and better as they go along and all so different. I loved this one, probably because of the historical elements to it but the modern elements of the story was as important as well, sometimes one dominates the other but here they are given equal importance. Perfection.

Not knowing what I was going to get from this one, as her previous two were so different, it was great to be transported away with Libby Page – The Island Home. A book that dealt with some tough issues and how you can be lonely amongst many and content amongst few. But so you really know everyone’s true story and is it only the one you choose to see.

Of course you can stick to what you know, but I do try and challenge myself with new authors and did so with Beth Cowan-Erskine – Loch Down Abbey a tongue in cheek look at the big house mystery with a few too many characters and whilst a passable diversion, not sure I would recommend.

Dare we say the word Christmas in June, but having received a second book in a series through netgalley and seeing that the first was a mere 99p on Amazon I thought it fair to start at the beginning. Which is why I read Cathy Lake – The Country Village Christmas Show although not overtly full of Christmas it is mentioned and was a nice introduction to this author who I have never heard of before. That said, I don’t think I needed to have read it before her latest. Whoops!

So that was June, half way through the year. For followers of my blog, Six in Six is returning so get working on those lists, and please link back to me so I can capture your links and share the lots of lovely books out there that some of us definitely will not have read!

How was your June reading? Meeting your challenges? Or just seeing how it all goes?

Books

May Roundup

May has rather been a wash out, weather wise – as for the reading well it was fine with few showers!

I think in reference tot he showers I must refer to the last book I read for the month which was Julie Shackman – A Secret Scottish Escape. A book I took a chance on from netgalley but sadly it did not live up to it’s premise. Of course I feel guilty and then I question why did I finish it if I didn’t like it. I have yet to answer that question myself. I just have to recognise that not all books fit sometimes.

Trying my hand with another new author to me Faith Hogan – The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club, took me away to Ireland and the wonder that is swimming. Something I adore. Although I have yet to venture into the sea, the outdoor pool is about as far as I go, but I might be tempted to the lido quite soon. This was a book which would warm you from the coldest swim.

Of course not everyone is passionate about water and the sea and when you find yourself on the coast with bad memories of a childhood incident it can cause some heartache. Liz Eeles – A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea helps reveal secrets from the past and heal past misdemeanours in this latest book.

Sticking with the sea and the beach theme, takes me back to Jewel Island and the sensuous stories that come from Holly Martin – Sunlight over Crystal Sands. Her books are fantastic travel escapism and this series seems to be getting better and better.

Travelling all over the place with my reading means I can be in Ireland, in Cornwall or all the way up to Scotland where I get to revisit another place I have enjoyed getting to know Heartcross. Back now with Christie Barlow – Primrose Park who introduces us to more people in this village and some wonderful animals too. Another place to escape to if you feel you need that.

Back down to the Cotswolds as I go back to a village I have visited before, this time I am with newcomer Hannah who decides to restart her life in Rachael Lucas – The Village Green Bookshop. Some tough subjects dealt with tact and truth and brought to life by this author with such skill.

The only trouble with reading books from authors you have read before and part of the series means you never have that thrill of devouring them one after the other and immersing yourself amongst them. When you are all caught up, you simply have to wait until the next one appears.

It is such joy when it does and I get to go back to Dartmouth and back in history with Helena Dixon – Murder at Elm House, Kitty and her beau are still caught up in some mysteries and murders and it seems we are no nearer to finding out about poor Kitty’s mother. Which means I am now patiently waiting for the next one….

I don’t have to wait with the Murder Most Unladylike novels as I have few more of these to read before I have caught up with the complete set, the latest read being Robin Stevens – Creams Buns and Crime. Despite being for children, these really indulge my love of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton’s school stories and I think are great starting point for some young readers wanting to branch out a bit.

In world full of fake news, of accusations about who said what to whom and how they were treated by the parents flit backwards and forwards across the Atlantic, it is a perfect way to escape it all between the pages of the book. However this latest, Marika Cobbold – On Hampstead Heath takes this and shows us the people that we have perhaps become and the way we need this news at the same time showing you the people who are trying to control it all. A book which challenged me and left me feeling better for being challenged.

As we go to June, I know regular followers of my blog with be well aware of Six in Six and I will be bringing that back for 2021. Do look out for the information posts in the coming days and spread the word to those who might want to join in our small select group!

Books

April Roundup

When I come to write these posts it always surprises me how much (or how little) I have read. April being one of those months in the year when I have more time off work and more time to read of course and it seems that I did that.

Mainly all on my kindle as I think it was just convenient more than anything else but the only physical book read (though plenty bought) was Cressida McLaughlin – The House of Birds and Butterflies which had been languishing on my shelf for a while. I prefer to read Cressida’s books as a whole rather than in serial format.

Going back to authors you know is of course reassuring and comfortable and that is why I was delighted to revisit Wynbridge with Heidi Swain – A Taste of Home. I am now all caught up with these books and look forward to the next, but am slightly jealous of all those who have only just discovered them and have so many to catch up on. That joy of discovering never goes away.

Sometimes though the joy of discovering can be disappointing and looking back over the last few years when I have picked up a book by Tilly Tennant I have either been enraptured with it or just felt rather flat – that was the case with Tilly Tennant – The Little Orchard on the Lane. I think I might need a break from this author for a while.

I was not disappointed with Gervase Phinn – A Class Act only the fact that it was the last in the series and there would be no more. I do love a good school story and one set in Yorkshire is just like spreading joy on every page. If you want laugh out loud then I would always recommend Gervase Phinn’s recollections of being a school inspector.

Just as you come to the end of one particular author’s oeuvre it is always great to find another and having only read a couple and knowing that I have more to read I was delighted to be able to read Jo Thomas – Chasing the Italian Dream her latest novel. Perfect armchair travelling for the foodie and a wonderful story which had me enveloped in the warmth and taste of perfect sunshine and food.

It is a while since I have read anything by Alex Brown, her writing has taken a different direction and this latest Alex Brown – A Postcard from Paris moved more into historical fiction which I enjoy reading. This time in Paris, the occupation in the Second World War and the beauty of a city ruined by invasion but with a story to tell. I think Alex Brown might have found her new writing way and I look forward to where she might take me next.

Sticking with historical brings me nicely to Lorna Cook – The Girl from the Island who I have been with since her debut novel. I think her third is sublime and was a fascinating read about the occupation of the Channel Isles and makes me want to book a visit and explore all of this wonderful history. She always seems to feature known but not well covered parts of history in her fiction and it makes me then want to read as much as I can about the subject.

Learning is all part of reading and that was the case with Emily Hourican – The Glorious Guinness Girls. The name was familiar but not really much else and sadly this book did not live up to what I was expecting. However it led me to read more about this fascinating family and of course their place in society. Perhaps I could say upon reflection this book was a good starting point but not the be all and end all of a read about them.

Of course the previous book mentioned is fiction based on real people,. but when I picked up Jay Blades – Making It I was getting the real story from the real person (with a little bit of writing help). Jay Blades is very well known in the UK, thanks to the wonderful television programme The Repair Shop but his start in life was not wonderful. This books reflects on growing up in a world that views you suspiciously and assumes the worst. I think we have a lot to do ourselves and in the world as a whole to repair all actions of the past and to make sure they do not continue.

The final book of the month was an author I took a chance on having never read any of her work before and thought it would be a change. Tracy Bloom – The Wife Who Got a Life was an odd read, it was a book which just was there, whilst the plot had some sort of purpose it did not really go anywhere for me. I can’t deny its humour but the rest was sort of lost on me.

That was my April, what was yours like? Anything I should be reading that has passed me by? I think I need to be reading more books from my shelves in May!

Books

March Roundup

March

March 2021 is a month to remember probably because it is a year to when the UK went into its first lockdown and we became very familiar with the words pandemic and coronavirus. March 2021 we are still in a form of lockdown and as the month ends we move on to the next stage and whatever that may bring. Hope is what I am after.

March has been an up and down month for reading, the list of books I want to read (and have requested from netgalley) grows long but the actual reading seems to be taking a lot longer. I am hoping as I have chance to recharge and reset in April and the reading will thence follow.

I did read some crackers in March though!

Whilst the place might have driven some crackers, it was all about cracking the code and Kate Quinn – The Rose Code was a hefty tome of novel (not really noticeable on kindle) but was a thrilling read that was perfect for my love of historical fiction and I am just as fascinated by Bletchley Park as I have always been.

All sorts of things fascinate me and last year I ploughed through all the Our Yorkshire Farm series on Channel 5 and then absorbed all the books, so was delighted that another little gem was released Amanda Owen – Tales from the Farm from the Yorkshire Shepherdess. Which has taken her entries from The Dalesman and combined them into this lovely book for dipping in and out of.

Sticking with the farm theme leads me nicely onto Katie Ginger – The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse where the chickens are giving the new owner of Meadow Farmhouse a run for her money as well as an old flame and a lot of interior decorating! What better setting for such a lovely warm read.

Of course if you are going to go to the sea and spot mermaids then you need it warm, but then in Sarah Bennett – Summer Kisses at Mermaid’s Point the writing and the characters are going to keep you warm and in a good company as we start this new series from this blossoming author.

Wanting to carry on escaping, what better way than to Fiji in Lucy Clarke – The Castaways but not for a relaxing break. For a mystery that needs to be solved, the missing plane, the missing pilot, the missing sister. This was a thrilling adventure despite the setting and left me feeling like I needed a holiday from reading it!

If you are going on holiday then it is always worth visiting the library to pick up some great reads and no more so when the library nearest to you happens to be in a telephone box. Poppy Alexander – The Littlest Library introduced me to a lovely story that can come from the death of loved ones, especially parents and it is with some irony that three of the books that I have read in March and featured such a character background. I only realised this upon reflection over the last month, how strange that I was drawn to such books without really knowing.

I am always drawn to school stories and it is great to spend time with Gervase Phinn – Tales out of School whose books are a joy to read and when you can hear the Yorkshire accent as you read, you can feel the honesty and warmth come right off the pages. This is the second in the series of books and I have the third, primed and ready on my kindle.

Feeling rather out of sorts I picked up Tracy Rees – The Little Book of Secrets and absolutely devoured it in a day, such a beautifully written book that had friendship at it’s heart and the impact that a simple building can have of many people locally and those that pass through.

Some wonderful books which have saved my March and I look forward to brighter days when I can read even more, because I know escaping into a story is the best feeling in the world.

Books

February Roundup

12 months ago we were just starting to worry about this ‘thing’ out there in the world but now we are 12 months on and who knew! The constant has been reading over that time and it has continued in February with a real eclectic mix of books to lose myself in. I hope you have had the same feeling.

I must be one of the only people left on the plant who has yet to watch Bridgerton – I wanted to read the book first: Julia Quinn – Bridgerton: The Duke and I and what a delightful fluffy, fizzy escapist read it was with in my opinion little reference to the regency setting it is based in. No matter. I am now primed ready to watch and then I know I can pick up the second book when I just simply want to escape and not worry much about the writing, the plot and the glaringly modern references in an historical romance book.

Sticking with the historical theme, led me to Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls on the Home Front, the next in the series and it is so wonderful to be able to just walk through the front doors of these girls houses and join in with everything happening to them. Even if some of it isn’t that nice and there is a war going on, but it is now 1944 and the ending seems in sight.

I went even further back with Helen Fripp – The Champagne Widow which is definitely going to be one of those books that will be mentioned a lot. I knew nothing of the champagne houses in France other than their names and that I am not particularly fond of the drink. But this was a magical book, which taught me so much about such a fabulous women in the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars. A debut novel which fizzed with promise and delivered.

I always want to learn something when I am reading books that are based in a particular period of history or are based on real people and events and whilst the event that this book is based on was real, the setting and the time period have been changed. Emma Stonex – The Lamplighters take us to a lighthouse on the edge of Cornwall, to a mystery that will keep you awake at night and wonder during the day – where did they go and what really happened? This book is getting lots of press at the moment and is certainly one I would recommend if you want to be enthralled by a mystery.

Whilst holidays might seem a long time ago and there is some doubt as to the reality of getting one in in 2021 it is always great to escape abroad without the long haul flight. Of course with Robert Thorogood – Murder in the Caribbean you don’t really want a murder when on holiday but at least you can escape to the blue skies and warm waters of the fictional St Marie. Just solve the murder quickly so you can enjoy the rest of your break.

If you want to stay a bit nearer to home then of course Rachel Burton – The Summer Island Festival is the place to go. Relive your past music tastes and enjoy the Isle of Wight when it isn’t hosting the thousands for the main event held there. A smaller event is a bit more familiar of is it becoming too familiar and is it all going to fall apart.

Running away can be the only way to solve things sometimes and in Jane Lovering – Home on Folly Farm it was the perfect answer for Dora that is until her sister arrives bringing the past with her. Peace is shattered and so it seems is the future. This author was new to me and this was an enjoyable departure from real life with some great characters that get under your skin immediately! I will look out for more.

So that was February, some new, some old and some sheer joy. I hope March keeps the momentum up.

 

Books

January Roundup

Well they say January is a hundred million days long but a January in lockdown has a hundred million more – but we have it behind us now and whilst lockdown continues across the globe in many forms we can still seek solace in books and reading.

A month where last year I was struggling and luckily I got a change of medication and a reset before the pandemic set in, I think I would be a much darker space if I had not sought help a year ago. So I continue to manage and monitor and when it comes to reading choose books that help lift the soul and spirit and bring great joy and entertainment. And they all did.

No one new to my reading; all authors I have read before and know I can rely on for a cracking good story. Christie Barlow – The Lake House was first one off the shelf this year and it was a delight and joy to be back in Heartcross as the little Scottish has really been taken to my heart and I enjoy going there.

Criss-crossing across the country means I was transported to the west country with Helena Dixon – Murder in the Belltower, delightful Kitty and handsome Matt are trying to have a quiet time away, but it seems that intrigue and bodies follow them wherever they go.

Kate Forster – Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace takes me to the Cornish coastline and delightful cottages and a community full of spirit and secrets. And there are more secrets to be discovered in Liz Eeles – Secrets at the Last House Before the Sea, the start of her new series. Sometimes we have to ask the difficult questions and the answers can sometimes surprise us!

Still on the coast to a magical place is Holly Martin – Ice Creams at Emerald Cove where I caught up with the friends I had made there, and gladden to hear that I get to return for another visit.

A place I would love to go is Switzerland, for the snow and clean air not the skiing and I got to there vicariously through Julie Caplin – The Little Swiss Ski Chalet which is one my favourite books in this series, these really are little travelogues and such a joy to read. The desire for a Toblerone though was quite strong!

Then I travelled a bit further afield across land and sea to New York and Kenya, Geneva and England with the sixth story of The Seven Sisters – Lucinda Riley – The Sun Sister. I had been holding onto reading this for so long because you get lost in the story so much that nothing else matters – and yet again I was.

I enjoy books set with an historical twist and it was with intrigue that I picked up the latest Katie Fforde – A Wedding in the Country. This is a bit of a departure for the author and took me back to the swinging sixties and amongst the short skirts, the radical hair and the breakdown of some class barriers I got a beautiful story as you would expect from Katie.

I think eight books is a jolly good start to the year, I have to confess I have a number waiting to be read, a number of them out in the coming months and I hope to balance all of that with reading books from my shelves which have been looking forlornly at me for a while.

What have you been reading lately? Anything new I should know about?

 

Books

Books in 2020

2020 is going to be a year to remember in many ways but for the moment, I am just going to concentrate on books. Taken me a while to reflect back on them all. 

All 109 of them that I finished!

Some facts and figures for those geeks that like that sort of thing!

The Shortest Book was 149 pages (The 39 Steps)

The Longest Book was 608 pages (The Moonflower Murders)

I read 35,580 pages – goodness knows how many words that was. 

There was no rereading in 2020, despite my promise to myself that I will do this. 

79 books were on my kindle – this is in the main due to my netgalley membership which is enabling me to read books and review them and tell all my blog followers and watchers about books to look out for. I am always most humbled by this and do not take it for granted. Though you have to be careful not to get too bogged down in requesting too many!

Though this year more than any I have revelled in being to a hold a tangible book as a reassurance in these strange times. 

So what has stood out for me? What is worthy of a mention?

Multiple Books by the same Author

The winner is Agatha Christie – I read 5 of her books in 2020. The Reading Christie challenge hosted by the Agatha Christie official website helps with that. They have brought it back for 2021 and I hope to dip in and out as I did in 2020. 

4 Books – Katie Fforde

3 Books – Emma Davies, Helena Dixon, Katie Ginger, Amanda Owen, Caroline Roberts, Heidi Swain, Tilly Tennant.

2 Books – Lucy Foley, Sophie Hannah, Holly Martin, Carole Matthews, Cressida McLaughlin, Bella Osborne, Nancy Revell, Ben Schott, Robin Stevens, Jo Thomas, Emma Burstall, Christie Barlow, Phillipa Ashley. 

I know you should not judge a book by it’s cover but in these strange times I have sought such joy in bright colourful covers of books that have then gone on to give me such joy. 

This blog in the last few years has prominently been heavily dominated with Women’s Fiction as you can see, but as the blog has changed and developed so has my reading. I made all these promises of looking back over the last ten years of blogging – I got no further than 2012. Odd when I had a lot of time on my hands that I did not go back and manage this task. 

Oh well, the blog moves on and develops as I suppose life does. 

So what other books should I tell you about well these are the stand out ones for me in 2020. 

There is only one Queen of Crime (Agatha Christie if you don’t know) but what if the Queen was involved in solving crime. Well she needs to fill her days somehow between all the papers, visits and family battles surely?

This really is an exuberant take on the cosy mystery genre and has some good research done on it, to understand the workings of the the Royal Family and also the descriptions of Windsor Castle. There are some humorous moments and it had me laughing out loud and what seems like the absurdity of it all but then do we really know what goes on behind palace walls?

Nora is seventeen. Her whole life ahead of her. Bright and skilful. Her heart leads her to one night of passion and that leads to a baby.

In 2020, heads would hardly turn, families would pull together.

In 1939, the world was very different. The Mental Deficiency Act meant Nora could be committed to an asylum as a moral imbecile. She was a threat to herself and others for one act of passion.

Beautifully and emotionally written it engages you from beginning to end. This is one if the best books I have read and for a debut novel should be up there with the best.

I first met Atticus Pund in Magpie Murders, I thought it was a one off, it seemingly started at the end of what could have been a series of books. However four years later Atticus is back and his creator Alan Conway long since dead is still making an impact from beyond the grave.

The reader is treated to a skilfully written novel, the clues are all there, and whilst I had the wrong person for a while, I did have the right reasons but the most obvious simply passed by Susan Ryeland as well as me! If the lead character can be fooled as much as the reader – the author must be on to something.

This brings Louisa back in touch with The Mitford Sisters, who she thought she had left behind. Diana, now separated from her husband Bryan has started a love affair with Oswald Mosley and with her sister Unity obsessed with the beliefs and values of the Fascists, it seems that Louisa is going to be plunged into the darker side of politics and ever growing problems in Europe.

A well written murder mystery perfect for fans of history and the gold age of crime. Long may they continue. Highly recommended.

There is something about Rachel Joyce stories, that have a quietness about them which stays with you for a very long time. I remember the beauty of her debut novel……

This time we meet Margery Benson, spinster, late forties who discovered an interest in a particular golden beetle. It was said to exist but no one had seen or even found it. 

With detailed research clearly undertaken in terms of the landscape of New Caledonia as well as the research into all the insects and the treatment and recording of them, the book teaches you as well as gives you a story that you can believe in and characters you put your trust in.

Having finished their A-Levels Judith, Lana and Catrin are about to embark on one of those life affirming moments when they take a trip to Greece to celebrate the fact that they have made it thus far and that their long standing friendship since the age of eight will last a life time.

As the book goes on through key moments in all their lives, it is being told from the perspective of each of the girls as they become women, as they move between close friends and further distance. 

This is a book full of strong female characters, with such depth and warmth you will think you have known them a lifetime. In fact you can relate to aspects of all of them and I think that is the key to making this an excellent book.

A book I did not review, it was a Christmas present from 2019, but one all should read if you are a fan of Toksvig. 

And finally, I must say thank you to all those who comment on my blog and to those that stop by and read but don’t say anything. It really is all just a stream of my consciousness and I enjoy reading, writing and sharing it all with you. 

I am not sure where this blog will go in 2021, I have all these fanciful ideas, but I have not managed at the moment to get to grasp with using WordPress from my iPad and only have access to a computer (notwithstanding the 4 I use at work every day) on a Sunday. Perhaps when and if I do, I will share more of the craft items and other life observations I did when I first started this blog all that time ago. 

For now, take care, stay safe and keep reading. 

 

Books · Knitting

December Roundup

What a December, one of the quietest I have had in a long time from a work perspective. Normally the three weeks proceeding the big day are some of the busiest with functions, lunches, Santa visits and masses of paperwork proceeding audits, etc. As work has changed and will continue to do so in the coming months, I have had to find a new sort of normal, a common phrase we hear now.

But what of the books you say? Well I had already hit my target of 100 going into December so it was a case of seeing how many I could get to by the 31st.

The last book of the year was Rosie Goodwin – The Blessed Child a real chunky saga, which curled up on the sofa under a blanket was the best place to read it. I was transported to tales similar to that of Catherine Cookson and I must go back for some others.

Going back for more is why I went to join the delightful Daisy and Hazel in Robin Stevens – Mistletoe and Murder. Although aimed at a much younger market, I still feel slightly indulgent reading such a book, but these are much better than some adult aimed books that I have read over the years.

Keeping it still Christmas was Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas, continuing the adventures of the Big Red Bus full of cream teas in Cornwall. You know that Christmas is going to be a magical time and whoever comes on the bus is going to have their hearts and heads turned.

It is always great to carry on with a series, whether it be familiar characters or places. I am an avid fan of Heidi Swain but have only just got round to reading her first novel Heidi Swain – The Cherry Tree Café. The book you could say where it all began and now having completed them all, I am itching for her next.

When you find an author you love, you can get a little impatient to wait for their newest work. So discovering authors when they have a oeuvre to work through normally keeps all of that at bay. So I went back to one I had not read Katie Fforde – A Springtime Affair, it had been languishing on my Kindle for a while so I delighted in the spring weather during a winter cold snap. The perfect tonic.

Jeeves and Wooster have always provided me with tonic of some sort and the homage I read in November was closely followed by the new one Ben Schott – Jeeves and the Leap of Faith. Sheer utter spiffing joy – I need to go back to some Wodehouse. I rue the day I gave away my books.

I wish I had given away this book, or at least as it was on my Kindle given up on it Sarah Pearse – The Sanatorium. A book that promised something it did not deliver. Not the right book for me at the time of picking it up. Though I acknowledge some have loved it and it will no doubt feature on many blogs.

I started to see Sarah Steele – The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon on books of the year posts and knew I had yet to get round to it. So to make a dent in my forever expanding netgalley list, I picked it up. Now I know what everyone was on about and really wish I had read it sooner. A wonderful dual narrative novel with a great vehicle of telling a story.

I would like to say I was ahead of the game in terms of books published next year – sadly I am not, but no matter because the one to look out for so far is Joanna Nell – The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home. Humorous, bittersweet and with a touch of ‘what if’ this is a lovely read from a relatively new untapped author. Do check out this and her other two books if you get the chance.

So that was December, there was a lot of reading what I wanted with no pressure. I think that is a good mantra to start 2021’s reading with.

As for my favourites for the year….. I have not quite decided yet…….more to follow soon.