Books

October Roundup

With only two months of the year left, I am just about on target for reading 100 books and I think it could possibly go to the wire this year. Let us no dwell on that and plough through the October books read.

Of course the Christmas books do tend to dominate in October and there is always a risk I could be all Christmas read out by the time the festive period is really upon us so I have tried to mix it up with other books as well.

I have spent Christmas in October in many places. Completing her trilogy set in Wishing Wood was Holly Martin – The Christmas Tree Cottage, where back in the tree houses we finally get to make sure that Heath the only brother not with someone, settles down and what better way with someone called Evergreen Winter. Holly Martin does manage to conjure up such wonderful settings and characters.

If treehouses are not your thing then maybe Chateaus’ are. Jo Thomas – Celebrations at the Chateau is in fact last years Christmas read and I tripped across to France and wrapped my taste buds round some delicious Apple treats. The bonus of a Christmas wedding and a restart for everyone was the perfect story to lose myself in.

You can travel with your home as well and whilst this one is full of cocktails in Caroline Roberts – Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan, it was lovely to go back and visit places from previous Roberts’ novels and see it all pull together. Plenty of snow and snuggly moments.

If you are a fan of reading then a bookshop has to be your ultimate place to be surely. Continuing her Cornish series Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop took me to a place I have visited in a previous novel and one where the new bookshop is open and a whirlwind new employee is trying to make her mark.

I don’t remember there being that many books featuring Christmas in my past reading years. Perhaps I did not pay any attention, or perhaps there was not that interest. They are the perfect escape to perhaps find that perfect Christmas that we all sort of want, but don’t want the hassle or stress. But what if Christmas was your job. In Phillipa Ashley – The Christmas Holiday, Christmas is a time of rest for the main character, where you have done all your work whilst everyone else enjoys the fruits of your labours.

Again all the books for this month have been on my kindle and via netgalley. I did pick up one book which had been on my 20 Books of Summer challenge, but abandoned it. It was just not working for me or holding my attention which meant it sat by my bed simply gathering dust. I must read more actual books in November.

As for the rest of the kindle books this month, I start with Anna Stuart – The Bletchley Girls a new author to me. This was a wonderful book, set in the fascinating place of Bletchley Park and had me hooked and is one of the best historical fiction books I have read this year.

Another author who seems to excel at historical fiction is Tracy Rees – The Elopement. It was an absolute joy to go back to characters introduced in The Rose Garden and to be immersed in those in high society and those on the outskirts. Tracy Rees has done it again.

Sticking in the historical period with the latest Miss Underhay novel in Helena Dixon – Murder on Board. Cosy mystery, not so much blood and guts than red herrings and nosy maids. I am delighted to hear that these books are to continue for a while longer.

One of the first proper Blog events I took part in was the promotion of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, now ten years ago. So I was delighted to be able to access the novella that completed this journey with Rachel Joyce – Maureen Fry and the Angel of the North. We hear Maureen’s voice, go with her on a journey so very different to Harold and Queenie’s but beautiful just the same.

On with November and some reading actual books of my actual shelves!

How was your October? Any Christmas novels I should know about?

Books

September Roundup

I think September 2022 is a month not many of us will forget, it is almost like decades happened in those two weeks following the death of HM Queen Elizabeth II.

I have had the honour of watching the practice of the RN Gun Carriage Procession for many years due to my work. It was somewhat sobering to know that I was now watching the actual rehearsal. The noise of the boots walking in step and Beethoven’s Funeral March No 1 almost haunted me every day as they practiced, practiced and then some more. Pretty much for around 12 hours a day.

I made the decision to go to the lying in state. Words cannot do it justice, the emotion was overwhelming. I can say it was one of the best lived experiences of my life.

At roughly 0400 – it took another 3 and 1/2 hours to reach Westminster Hall from this point

As someone who has a passion for history, I felt I have lived through a lot of it in September.

And in a seamless segue that takes me to the first completed book of September, Sara Sheridan – The Fair Botanists. Back to Scotland, back to 1822 and the potential visit of King George IV but the wonderful female characters that dominated the book and the plot as we learn about botanicas, art and of course love.

Fast forward some hundred years or so and I find myself in the Roaring Twenties in Kate Atkinson – Shrines of Gaiety. The latest from this author and one I would heartily recommend, it probably deserves a second reading as it was so rich in character and plot I am sure I missed much.

Then only a few years further on to Vicki Beeby – A Wren’s Wartime Christmas where I caught up with this saga and with a Christmas theme as well, which pretty much set the tone for the rest of the month.

Sarah Bennett – Happy Endings at Mermaids Point concludes this delightful series from the author. Taken full circle we are joined by the mermaid that caused all the bother in the first place but brought us all to such a wonderful place. To be there at Christmas, with big family dinners, lost dogs, weddings and romance is the best when it comes to loosing yourself in a book.

Losing yourself is the only way when you read Heidi Swain – A Christmas Celebration. Back for the Winter Wonderland at Wynthorpe Hall where it seems everyone comes to be healed and brought back to life. The wonderful backdrop enables you to dream about those perfect Christmases which we all perhaps hanker after. When actually the perfect Christmas is with those you love around you. This books has that in spades!

Escaping for Christmas is perhaps everyone else’s idea of fun, which is why in Julie Caplin – The Christmas Castle in Scotland we are there to see Izzy now the owner of a castle preparing Christmas for some people who have paid handsomely for it. Despite other waifs and strays turning up along the way to add to the hard work but also the fun.

Sticking in Scotland and moving from a castle to another iconic building in Sharon Gosling – The Lighthouse Bookshop. This building has a secret and when the owner dies it seems that the secret could be lost forever. A cast of wonderful characters and setting that was as strong as her first novel. An author to watch out for.

Right to the other end of the country with another final book in a series with Liz Eeles – The Key to the Last House Before the Sea. An abandoned village, a part derelict cottage and a challenge to leave a legacy for everyone.

All but one of these books was read on my kindle and it reminds me of the convenience of kindle and my ever burgeoning netgalley list but I do miss holding that book in my hands. More of that in October, I hope!

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

And with a blink of an eye and a lot of sunshine, August is done! A bumper month of reading as always thanks to three weeks off work. The hot weather where the only thing to do is lie in the shade and read probably helped as well.

Let’s get the crime out the way first with Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood. I waited until the paperback came out before reading this as it is a hefty tome and I am frightened of doing myself a mischief when reading it. As good as always and had me completely hooked. Now with the latest out, I am not sure if I can wait for that in paperback or just bite the bullet and order the hardback? It is so great to be completely lost within a story.

The next in line and in the series of Hawthorne and Horowitz was Anthony Horowitz – The Twist of the Knife. As clever as all the previous ones with plenty of twists and the inclusion of the author as a character and main protagonist makes for interesting reading, even if it might make for difficult writing.

Series of crime books can be a blessing and a curse, you could say they all turn out to be very much the same, but sometimes that formula is what you need. So I think this is where I would put the book Merryn Allingham – Murder at the Priory. The latest in the Flora Steele series of books and where the idyllic village set in Fifties Britain makes you convinced that Miss Marple might pop up at any moment.

In fact she did in Various – Marple. Twelve new short stories featuring the aforementioned and all penned by current authors who keep to the mystery style and also an element of their own but with plenty of Christie to make you think you are reading some forgotten Christie works. As short stores they were perfect diversions and well written. Not sure I could pick a favourite.

The mystery of a miracle features in Anne Booth – Small Miracles as I was immersed in a convent with only three nuns remaining. Is it really a miracle or faith that these three nuns need? A joyful, peaceful escapist novel.

Peaceful is always what you might want from a holiday and even if you have to do a bit of work as well. In Jo Thomas – Retreat to the Spanish Sun, I did retreat and learnt about the food of Spain and of the warmth and sometimes coldness of the characters as I escaped. I am just discovering Jo’s novels and I am looking forward to escaping again and again.

We all know Cornwall is a popular destination for holidays in the UK and therefore it was a delight to revisit this summer myself. Well via a book or two. First up was Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday, the series has flourished as we get to visit other parts of the area and find other characters to love as everyone finds their happy ever after. With a dollop of clotted cream of course!

Then I was more weather obsessed in Cornwall with Ali McNamara – Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies. A beautiful book full of sun, rain, myth and mystery as well on the Cornish coast. Vibrantly brought to life by the author I could taste the salt of the sea on my skin as I read.

Weather is always a good plot device in a book as it can create atmosphere and also prove to be a challenge for some of its main characters. In the first I think of my Christmas ‘type’ reads for 2022 (there is many more to follow) then the latest Heartcross book fills that spot. Christie Barlow – New Beginnings at the Old Bakehouse is full of snow and chocolate and would be the perfect book to read by the fire. Which seemed completely om contrast to when I was reading it in 30 degree heat!

I am always trying new authors, but sometimes it looks like I tend to stick similar authors or the same ones. Even if the previous book has disappointed or not hit the mark, I have gone back time and time again. I think I need to stop doing this. I felt this way about Helen Rolfe – Finding Happiness at Heritage View, part of a series which I did not know about until I had finished (think this was book five). It was nice and an okay read but I wasn’t blown away by it. I always feel bad when books I read make me feel like this. Feeling bad again when I finished reading Tilly Tennant – A Home at Cornflower Cottage has made me think about whether I will pick up something from these authors again. I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with these books, it is just I have grown in my reading and grown away from them. Perhaps one day I will return.

But you do have to keep trying authors sometimes and that was why I found myself back with this book Faith Hogan – The GIN Sisters’ Promise. A book for fans of family sagas and all that sibling rivalry with the backdrop of a wild Irish landscape and a double gin! I might return to this author.

Second books are notoriously difficult so they say. I don’t think this applies to Freya Sampson – The Girl on the 88 Bus whose delightful novel which includes the cross generational friendships and the possibility of finding something you have lost. I think Freya Sampson is becoming an author to look out for.

Going back to an author can be easy as it is difficult. But it was easy with Cathy Bramley – My Kind of Happy which absorbed me from page one and had me right to the end, with the book read in less than 24 hours. Something just appeals with the writing, the characters, the depth of plot and in this case all the flowers. It is funny how some books hit the spot and others just don’t.

As well as returning to authors when a new book arrives, there is also the joy in rereading some. I very rarely do, because of so many books to read I suppose but I did treat myself to P.G.Wodehouse – Carry on Jeeves which was a sheer joy. I did have all the books and gave them away years ago which I regret. These are a delight to keep going back to and might get another one to indulge in soon.

So that was August, 15 books apparently giving me a good place to be going into autumn and the final stretch of 2022 and the goal of 100 books. Do tell me what you have been reading, anything I have missed? And also do share about how you feel about books from authors you have previously enjoyed but are just not hitting the spot now?

In the meantime, let’s get cracking with the Christmas books (yes it is coming!)

Books

July Roundup

I might be behind on my challenge of reading 100 books in a year, but looking back at July I think I have made a good dent in it at least with some great books. And of course added to reads of Books of Summer challenge too.

The only physical paper copy of a book read this month was Jennifer Saint – Ariadne a retelling of a Greek Myth. It is a long time since I have read anything about the myths and legends, something which I have always been fascinated by. This whilst a bit tough in places was an interesting read and I certainly will not be put off by more Greek tragedy in the future. It led me to read more about it all so I could understand the book a bit better.

The only other new author to me this month was Richard Coles – Murder Before Evensong, and whilst I was fully aware of Richard Coles this is his first foray into fiction. Crime fiction. Again it was a book which I learnt from as my knowledge of religion, church services and the bible is woefully inadequate in comparison to some. A lovely book set in the eighties (with scope for plenty more) and an interesting insight into the minutiae of parish life with the added complication of a dead body or two!

Sticking with murder, I have been lucky enough to read the latest Vera; Ann Cleeves – The Rising Tide is another excellent page turner. Vera jumps off the page, thanks to Brenda Blethyn’s television portrayal and without in mind when you read the book, you are fully aware of the characters traits an foibles and that just adds to the story. Out in September.

Greek tragedy and murder is enough to depress anyone, but I have lightened my July reading with some lovely travel thanks to Gervase Phinn – At The Captain’s Table, a cruise to be precise. One of those books which observes people and their foibles (isn’t that such a great word!) as they are all contained on a ship as it travel’s the coast of Europe. All of life is here to see and Phinn encapsulates that Yorkshire humour with great skill.

Cornwall is always popular for holidays and for the setting of books and it is always lovely to spend time with Phillipa Ashley – A Golden Cornish Summer for her latest. Family feuds and young love are between the pages of this book as well as the sun, sand, sea and surf.

Travelling to another part of the UK, takes me to Wales and the latest contemporary novel from Tracy Rees – The Little House by the Sea. Can you start again in the place where you had your last family holiday as a child? It seems you can, but you cannot hide from what your family are keeping from you. As ever a wonderful book to escape with.

Then my final travels take me back to the village of Heartcross in Scotland with Christie Barlow – The New Doctor at Peony Practice. Rivalries founded at medical school are now being payed out in the village practice and it seems that Love Heart Lane is ready to deliver another excellent story.

So with my bags still packed with all these wonderful escapes, I am off on more adventures in August.

I have enjoyed visiting everyone who has taken part in Six in Six and a roundup post will follow this month.

Books

June Roundup

Six months done in 2022, and after two very slow years this one seems to be speeding by. Certainly in terms of books read though it has been slow and I am certainly no where near on target for my yearly challenge of 100. Enough about wishing the next six months away, what have I read in June?

For the first time in a long time, I signed up to 20 Books of Summer challenge and I hope to at least use that to make a dent in all those wonderful books I have to read. It also made me reinstate my challenges list which can now be found at the top of this blog.

I have managed three off this list – the first being a book I had on my shelf for a while Gill Hornby – Miss Austen. A wonderful retreat to the world of Austen, told from the perspective of one of Jane’s siblings and the letters that were written. The language and the pace of the book felt I was catapulted back to the past.

The past or historical fiction was very much of the reading in this month and I was back into World War Two with Molly Green – Summer Secrets at Bletchley Park. Bletchley Park fascinates me and all these women and men who worked there and never said anything for so many years after the war about what happened there. This is the first in what I hope is a little saga series to get my teeth right into!

You can sometimes read the same things about the same eras but with Jennifer Ryan – The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle she makes a part of the war on the home front that you didn’t realise existed and weaves it into a fascinating story. With great female leads and characters of different classes coming together to fight their own battles on the home front. I am fascinated as to where she goes next.

Featuring the Second World War and the years previous, is where you find yourself with Fern Britton – The Good Servant. This takes us into the heart of the royal family and Marion Crawford. Although this is fact made into excellent fiction, it has made me want to read more about Marion, her infamous book and some of the other excellent resources Fern Britton clearly used for her research.

Sticking with the interwar years finds me with Helena Dixon – Murder at the Country Club in the latest Miss Underhay mystery. If there ever was a time for cosy murder, this is a series of books which fulfil all you require set against a wonderful backdrop. I know this must come to an end but I will gobble them up until it does.

The only contemporary fiction was Holly Martin – The Wisteria Tree Cottage. A change from the original title by the author, but I am lucky enough to get an very early viewing and it is fascinating how these things change depending on uptake and marketing. This is yet another cracker from Holly and I just adore how this time she has given more voice to the male characters.

Not bad for June, but clearly work is taking its toll on all parts of my life. Time to readdress that balance if I am to survive the next six months. In the meantime do look back on your last six months of reading as Six in Six is now ready to go. I look forward to everyone joining in and please link back so I can share the love.

Happy reading!

Books

May Roundup

In a blink of any eye that was May. It has been rather a long month, I have been working sometimes 60 hours a week due to various reasons at work and it feels like some days I have done nothing of what I enjoy doing; reading, crafting and swimming. Then add in a dose of COVID, and the month has been a bit of a washout. So how I have managed to read all these books I don;t know – but I have so without further ado…..

When not feeling chipper it is always good to stick to something you know and that was the case with Katie Fforde – A Wedding in Provence. A book to lose yourself into and escape to the beautiful area of Provence and a glorious love story.

Surroundings and landscape often make a book and no more so than with Heidi Swain – The Summer Fair. Back in Nightingale Square in the shared community garden. It is a place that is going to heal the broken of hearts and souls. If I could live in a book, I would want to live here!

Having spent all of my life by the sea, I am quite often drawn to the water and in Tilly Tennant – The Café at Marigold Marina the water proves to be a place of salvation for one of it’s newest residents.

New residents, albeit temporarily in Cornwall was where the latest Merryn Allingham – Murder at Primrose Cottage took readers. I am sure there isn’t a month that doesn’t go by without at least one book set in Cornwall. Though I don’t think finding bodies in orchards is quite what I have in mind when I envisage a cottage in Cornwall (or anywhere!)

I do enjoy the periods of history that some of the books I read are set in. And after finishing a saga series, I am itching to get into another one. I have started with Vicki Beeby – A New Start for the Wrens. Topical as I recognise some of the places local to me and I have now twenty years experience of the Navy. This was a great start to the series and now I have to wait for the next one, so I might need to discover some other series where there are plenty to get caught up in whilst I wait.

History took me back even further to Paris and the 19th Century to the world of the impressionist painters with Helen Fripp – The Painter’s Girl. My artistic knowledge is probably rather poor, but this was a fascinating insight to the world these people circulated in. I wish I could have had a picture book next to me, to reference all those paintings mentioned. A few lost hours on the internet fixed that.

Arts and Crafts is something I adore in many forms, and I do like the place it can send you to in your mind. Whilst I an do no more than a cushion cover at basic and perhaps the odd face mask as the last two years called for them. I do adore the Great British Sewing Bee and therefore was intrigued to read Esme Young – Behind the Seams. A chatty reminiscence through this wonderful ladies life and the joy that sewing brings. One to forge her own path I greatly admire her and she seems to have got through life fairly unscathed from it all. Wonderful.

Another woman who is forging her own path is Elizabeth Zott in Bonnie Garmus – Lessons in Chemistry a book that has been all over social media in the last few weeks. It’s bright cover makes it stand out and it is an absolute gem of a book which says something about women in the world, in the workplace, in the home, in pretty much everything. I just felt that in some cases nothing has changed but then so much has also changed. One for book of the year I think.

Celeb fiction writing can be a bit hit and miss. Sara Cox – Thrown is a hit, a great big hit and actually a book I had to keep reading as I was invested in it so much. I am intrigued as to whether there will be more from this pen if it is as as good as this then we won’t be disappointed.

I also made the decision to sign up to 20 Books of Summer, to make a dent in my shelves both physical and on netgalley. One of the books of the list will need to be changed because I have read it already, but no mind there are plenty more to add onto the list!

Regular followers of my blog with be well aware of Six in Six and I will be bringing that back for 2022. 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!

Let’s get reading…..

Books

April Roundup


And there goes April……I normally have a lot of time to read in April due to holiday, but this year was very different. Less holiday due to work computer systems, personnel changes and the like means that I have had the bare minimum to catch up. It has slightly annoyed me really as has the lack of doing what I like doing. However I have read some books and some cracking ones at that.

The Second World War seems to have been a theme when I look back on the books I have read. I was delighted and also saddened to finally reach the end of this series with Nancy Revell – Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls. I am now on the look out for another saga series to get immersed in, so if you have any recommendations then please comment and let me know.

From the Shipyards of the War and staying very much on the home front I ended up in a cooking competition on rations with Jennifer Ryan – The Kitchen Front. Whilst perhaps some of the ingredients leave a lot to be desired this strong story of friendship and what you can achieve with every little is excellent. It was lovely to see a book which concentrated on a different part of the war. Jennifer Ryan has a knack of doing that with her story telling.

You never think of what happened to libraries during the War. Kate Thompson – The Little Wartime Library shines a light on such a place, deep underground at Bethnal Green. Synonymous with a tragedy of its own. This was a delightful, heart-breaking book which tells you the power of friendship and strength through books.

More libraries featured this month by pure accident and that was with the latest Katie Ginger – The Little Library on Cherry Lane. A library threatened from something different but nonetheless showing such an important place that libraries can be. Makes me feel so guilty that I do not use mine as often as I should.

Female friendships is a theme in many books I read and they can cross generations as they do in Joanna Nell – The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital. An author I have read before who can capture the wonder of the elderly in such a comic way that her books have a great sense of fun about them.

Cathy Bramley – The Summer That Changed Us is the latest in this author’s work and I think I have pretty much read all of them. This one was different, it spoke to me in a completely different way. I adored it from beginning to end, it dealt with some real tough subject matter but not in a frivolous way but in something more realistic akin to real life. Cathy’s work keeps getting better and better.

Reading brings me such joy an contentment but I always like to be challenged sometimes by what I pick up. The final two books I want to talk about this month do that. Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures was on my shelf for a while after seeing it being raved about on Between the Covers a relatively new book programme on BBC2. Wow! A gentle book with an interesting themes to make it not so gentle and a bit more powerful.

Thrillers always have that way of being powerful, if they have the right hook to draw you in, the hours whizz by and you suddenly find it is way past your bedtime! Lucy Foley – The Paris Apartment was no exception. Whilst Lucy has moved away from the almost ‘locked room’ mystery this had a lot of a similar elements and branched out a little bit more. I was hooked, I was drawn in and I had to keep turning the page. A little bit slow in parts and not my favourite of hers but still a great thriller to escape with.

So that was my April, I am trying to erode the huge list of books to read on my shelf, on my kindle and on my want to buy list! Then of course I need to be writing about the books too, which seems to be harder and harder at the moment. A few more hours in the day, a few more days in the week and all we be fine!

Books

March Roundup

Looking back at the last two March, I seem to be in a familiar place. A need to recharge and reset, the reading is perhaps not the solace it can be. That said though I have read some great books in March, but the inclination to talk about them has waned slightly as the month has come to a close. I can though wax lyrical about all that I have read in this summary post of March.

When times are tough, it is familiarity in reading that can sometimes bring us through and of course lots of the authors this month I have read before.

I am back with Kitty in the latest Helena Dixon – Murder in First Class where she finds herself embroiled in a murder on a train, in a classic locked room scenarios familiar to those who have read many a crime novel of the classic cosy genre! I do so enjoy this series and know that eventually it will come to an end, in the meantime I just enjoy.

I do become involved in places, series, characters and no more so than when I am lucky enough to get hold of Sarah Bennett – Love Blooms at Mermaid Point and escape back to a place where I know I am going to be welcomed. Peeking into their lives is such a joy and perhaps the topics might be tough, but it all encompasses something which makes this particular author and her work a joy to read.

Sticking with authors I have read before took me to Liz Eeles – The Girl at the Last House Before the Sea where Freya finds herself starting again not just with her own life but with the relationships with her own family. Her influence means that others start to question their own family pasts.

Strong female characters is always a theme amongst many of the books I read and no more so than with the latest Veronica Henry – The Impulse Purchase. This is one of my favourites by this author and is an impulse purchase everyone needs to make. A proper great read to completely lose yourself in and one of my books of the year so far.

And also this month brought another favourite book of the year and that is Sally Page – The Keeper of Stories. This debut novel is such a quiet gentle read that it had my heart from the very first page. The stories that are out there amongst us all, the normal is much more interesting than the faked and fantastical world we sometimes can live in. A book to look out for.

Another book I kept seeing and had yet to read, so a bit slow to the party with this one was Robert Thorogood – The Marlow Murder Club. A fun, cleverly constructed novel which featured some quirky characters, some interesting murders and plenty of theories to make me think this could be the start of a series of books to get into. If Murder Mystery is your thing then this book is definitely one to read.

The book above, was one I had on my shelf that required reading and I also found myself picking up another one which had been languishing on there a while. That’s the trouble with netgalley it distracts me from my own shelves. Anyway I picked up Ayana Mathis – The Twelve Tribes of Hattie a heart breaking and graphic story which is eye opening about the South in America during many troubled times. A disturbing book that requires reading to gain an insight perhaps into what seems like another world but is sadly probably not that far from reality.

It has been a while since I have read any type of autobiography but I spotted Sutton Foster – Hooked on her own social media feed and as it features the wonderful affect craft can have on your life, you could say I was also hooked. Very American in references so some of it went over my head, but it was a fascinating to see how this popular theatre and television actress started and how the outlet of craft has kept her grounded along the way.

So that was March, some of the shelves a little dent in the Netgalley list as well. Onwards and upwards for April. I wonder where my reading journey will take me next ?

Books

February Roundup

A quiet month in terms of reading, brain not wanting to process words after hours at work processing numbers and idiots, not necessarily in that order. The most I have been able to do is sleep. Even the crafts have taken a bit of a blip and I know that would make me feel so much better. So rather than giving anything up for Lent, perhaps I should do the reverse and start something instead.

Anyway on with the books, the first was Sharon Gosling – The House Beneath the Cliffs, originally requested via Netgalley and one that I forgot to download in time and because I was so interested I bought a copy. A really great read, took me away to Scotland and I have found an author I would like to read more of too.

Sometimes a book is like a big hug and you are transported to a place that feels just like that as if you could walk into the pages of the book and fit right in. That was the case with Helen Rolfe – The Farmhouse of Second Chances a heart breaking read but one that will equally fill your heart with joy.

Another place to escape to in all it’s magical form was Holly Martin – The Blossom Tree of Dreams, the first in a new series from this author where the main protagonists were male and that you are transported to the woods, the trees and nature in all its glory.

Sticking with transported away, of course our worlds have got really small in the last couple of years and travel has been a bit spares but of course you can always bring the holiday to your home as does Cressida McLaughlin – The Staycation. This is a slight change of direction for this author and whilst I enjoyed it, I wasn’t quite sure.

Not being quite sure was how I approached Janice Hallet – The Twyford Code, not because there is anything wrong with the book. It is so cleverly written it made my brain hurt! But in a good way and did I see the red herrings, was I suspicious, did I work it out? I think I would have to reread the book more than once to work it all out!

I enjoy reading by what it teaches me, what I discover that I didn’t know and how cleverly the writing can be. With the final book of February to tell you about was something I learnt by reading Lorna Cook – The Dressmakers Secret. Chanel is a name we all know. Her past wasn’t something I knew anythign about, perhaps a vague notion of something not the norm. This was a book that surprised me and showed me a different side to a well known person and brand,. Fascainting and this is one of th reasons I love hisotrical fiction.

One thing I will say, is writing reviews are a bit slow. Not sure why, I am reading but it seems to be taking a while for the words to come out the end of my fingers onto the keyboard and get it down to share. Doesn’t help when you have oodles of books to read either!

Better get on with March and reading some of them.

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

For a reading month, this has been quite a slow one, getting back into routine after two weeks off work meant that reading took a little bit of a back seat as all I seemed to want to do is sleep! Even more so now that I end the month with a cold. However the books I have read have been excellent so without further ado……

In a push to beat the backlog that has been trending on Twitter I thought I would start with Stacy Halls – Mrs England sat on my shelf for a while and therefore crying out to be read. Why did I wait so long, it was a wonderful read and I have another on my shelf to read so I can go back to this wonderful writing.

#BeatingBeatTheBacklog will feature on many peoples blogs and twitter feeds no doubt and I have sorted made a headway in some more of my backlog on my netgalley list and picked Cathy Hayward – The Girl in the Maze which had been languishing for a bit longer than it should have been. This was an immensely powerful book which if you pick up you will need a strong stomach for. Still now it comes back to me.

But then I go and buy books which sort of defeats beating the backlog which is how I ended up reading Jo Bartlett – The Cornish Midwife. I would like to read more of this series and wanted to start with book one, though it seems it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t overly impressed with the ‘physical’ copy book version, seemed a bit too cheap. It was a delightful story full of humour and cheer and just what you need sometimes.

Delving into a book full of possibility as well as a shop of the same is how I felt about Holly Hepburn – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures. Previously released in four parts, this is the whole story and the way I prefer to read. Full of promise, history and love it filled my soul like the perfect balm.

Amongst all the ‘nice’ books sometimes it is good to test yourself or delve into the murkier bits of the past or of life. What better way than combining it with some historical fiction and go back to 1926 with Nina de Gramont – The Christie Affair. A possible reason for why Agatha Christie went missing for those eleven days. Of course we will never know which I think is part of the added mystery to the whole thing.

Some more crime in Nita Prose – The Maid which is a book you will see a lot of in the coming weeks I am sure. It has been optioned for film as well. A book set in a hotel, no time, no place but a maid who becomes involved in some unpleasantness and then finds a dead body. Is she guilty of anything other than innocence? If you enjoyed The Rosie Project/Eleanor Oliphant you will certainly like this book.

Still with the crime, but this time on the high seas as the month comes to a end with Tom Hindle – A Fatal Crossing. What could be more of a locked room mystery than one on a liner in the middle of a ocean. Rare pieces of art and the class system at it’s best, it is a race to find out the truth before the ship docks.

Not a bad start to the year, some real excellent reads and there is plenty more to come. I need to beat that backlog somehow whether it be on my shelf or on my kindle.

Bring on February!