Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2022

Again, I seem to have waited for 2023 to start and settle before I got round to looking at what I read in 2023. This must be the last roundup post to be published.

So first off, I did not reach that magic number 100: 2 short. Who knows why but do you know what I haven’t let it stress me out, I think I have read a decent amount of books and learnt not to read books just to keep the numbers up if I am not enjoying them.

The Shortest Book was Holly Hepburn – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasurer at 100 pages

The Longest Book was Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood at 944 pages

Of the 98 books read that is the equivalent of 30,476 pages! Of course this is all dependent on which version I save to my Goodreads list and I am not particularly fussed about ensuring it is the correct one, as I read quite a lot of advanced review copies.

As for the kindle it was 79 books and these would have been thanks to the wonder that is netgalley wish is also a curse as it means I am not reading books from my shelves as much as I should.

To stick with common themes in my look back of the year we will start with:

Multiple Books by the same Author

Top spot for 2022 was Helena Dixon with 4 books. 2020 was the last year with 4 books.

3 books: Merryn Allingham, Christie Barlow, Cathy Bramley, Holly Martin, Cressida McLaughlin, Jo Thomas. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

2 books: Phillipa Ashley, Vicki Beeby, Sarah Bennett, Liz Eeles, Sharon Gosling, Molly Green, Stacey Halls, Tracy Rees, Helen Rolfe, Jennifer Ryan, Heidi Swain, Tilly Tennant. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

As you can see I go back to the authors I know and love, who will give me a great read and also comfort as well. Of course as tastes change and books are written and discovered, there are more authors added into the mix.

No Agatha Christie (well not really) in this list but there is one reread. P.G.Wodehouse – Carry on Jeeves, I really wish I had not given away my Wodehouse books I had collected years ago. These are such a great joy. For 2023, I want more rereads, I want more Agatha Christie.

What about my favourite, I really can’t say I have one. There have been some cracking good reads and I am pleased to have delved a bit back into the historical fiction/saga area which has always been of great interest to me. So here is a snapshot of those books that stand out in 2022, a mix of many genres.

I think it is good that I haven’t got a stand out book of the year and haven’t had for many. I always think that leaves a lot to live up to with all the other books out there waiting to be read. So as for 2023, expect to see more of the same I think and more of reading what I want at a gentle leisurely pace or fast and furious depending on the book and the timing.

Finally thanks must go to my readers, book blogging has changed a lot of the years and a lot more is done on social media rather than specific blogs and also with a lot more visual content, especially videos. I am grateful to everyone who pops by and reads my wittering, for the time being I will continue to read and post.

Books

The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage – Christie Barlow

I have often describe these books as sagas that are perfect for Sunday night television, and this the latest novel is no exception. They are so enjoyable that they actually become more difficult to review as each book goes on, as the story of Love Heart Lane and Heartcross has evolved so much since the very beginning.

I implore anyone to read the first, read the last or any in between and you will immediately be transported and captured in Heartcross that you will never want to leave.

In this book, Jinny decides that life working for a megalomaniac newspaper editor, who is also her father is too much and she quits. She quits everything her job as a journalist, her flash car, her posh flat, basically her life and with nothing tying her to London anymore takes up a job in Heartcross at The Bees Knees. This job tending bees and making chutney is far from her previous life as you can get. Jinny really isn’t suited to this job.

Heartcross attracts all those who need help to heal from whatever has happened to them in the past and it is that which draws Jinny to the job and place and perhaps why she was chosen for the role. Jinny gets to meet Gabe who helps her out at The Bees Knees so she can learn the ropes. Jinny’s enthusiasm knows no bounds and you can predict perhaps some of the bother that she is going to get into, but all with the wisdom of youth and exuberance Jinny does manage to make it all work.

However there is something mysterious about Gabe, and Jinny can’t help that she is curious. Clearly being a journalist never goes away. But is the truth what Jinny is expecting and can Gabe really let anyone close to him?

Great to see familiar characters from the series appear, especially Molly and Cam from the previous novel which is how the threads of the place keep me interested and returning book after book.

A prefect book to fill your heart with sunshine in the dreary winter month filled with laughter and romance. What more could you want. Just more from the series that’s all!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Hidden Secrets at Bumblebee Cottage is out now.

Books

Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan – Caroline Roberts

Lucy is back in her horsebox Pizza Van, cooking those delicious sounding pizzas and she is invariably near or alongside, Jack with his red Cocktail Campervan, shaking up his latest concoction to delight the customers. They are still in the early days of their relationship.

But it is not without it’s troubles. Lucy has fallen out with her best friend Becky, who knows Jack’s reputation of old. Becky just doesn’t want Lucy to get hurt. When Jack stats behaving strangely, Lucy begins to worry and worry even more when her ex-fiancé turns up wanting to get back together.

In the run to Christmas, where the events that Lucy and Jack are attending are of the festive variety, this really takes you away to all those wonderful magical moments. I can smell the mulled wine, I can taste the festive pizzas, I can feel the cold as I wend my way amongst all the twinkling lights and cheery carols.

Amongst all this festive cheer though, Jack and Lucy are perhaps not being honest with each other, when events mean they are forced to confront their doubts and declare their feelings, something else momentous happens which could ruin it forever.

This is the perfect escape into Christmas and I loved the fact that the author has pulled the main characters from her other wonderful novels and given them a guest appearance which adds to the community feel of the book. I felt festive, full of delicious food and drink and wanted to embrace every Christmas Market I possibly could find! The book is magical and I hope we get to go back for a cocktail or two with Jack and Lucy at some point again.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan is out now.

Books

The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday – Cressida McLaughlin

Thea has come away for a long break where all she wants is to escape in a beautiful place and with as many books as possible. Books are her world, being a librarian satisfies only a small part of that, but if she could own a bookshop then that would be even better. But these are just dreams.

And when on holiday, Thea can but dream of her future.

Ensconced in the holiday cottage, she finds herself disturbed by the next door neighbour, Ben.

Ben is rather grumpy and is in the process of renovating the property next door to where Thea is staying.

When they first meet, there is something that infuriates them both about each other, and it soon seems that their paths are going to cross more than once throughout Thea’s stay. But what exactly do they both have to hide from each other? And will the dreams they have actually come true?

Part of this author’s Cornish Cream Tea series, this is book can be read as a standalone, previous characters are mentioned but they in no way distract from this current storyline. Full of what you would expect from Cressida if you have read her previous work and the perfect escapism for an afternoon without the calories of a full cream tea!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Cornish Cream Tea Holiday is out now.

Books

The New Doctor at Peony Practice – Christie Barlow

Each of the Love Heart Lane series can be read as standalone and if you come to the place via this book then you have ultimate joy of reading all previous seven novels to further fall in love with the place.

Here we are with Dr Ben Sanders, who has found his place working at Peiony Practice serving the villagers of Heartcross. But he cannot do it all himself and when they advertise for another Doctor to share the load he really doesn’t expect it to be someone he knows.

Someone who turns up when he is celebrating his birthday in the local and someone who was determined to beat him at medical school and to also beat his heart into submission as well

That someone is Dr Kate O’Neil, who firmly settles into village life and is taken into the villagers hearts as she throws herself into village life.

What better way that setting up a charity boat race with her and Ben as team captains, fuelling that rivalry started long ago in medical school.

But what are Ben and Kate hiding? Are they hiding the past from each other or are they simply hiding from each other?

Will the boat race be the final challenge for the pair?

Yet again, Christie Barlow delivers a heartfelt warm novel, featuring familiar faces but new ones as well. Of course there is an undercurrent of some serious subjects which she manages so beautifully that it brings a tear to your eyes. Reinforcing that anything can happen to anyone at any age.

A lovely novel, with the inevitable ending but boy the journey on the way was exciting! I look forward to returning to Heartcross soon with book nine.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The New Doctor at Peony Practice is out now.

Books

The Summer Fair – Heidi Swain

For her summer book Heidi Swain has taken us back to Nightingale Square and there is no better place to be in the summer to drink in the wonderful community and garden either.

For Beth, moving to Nightingale Square seems like a dream come true. But after her awful house share she needs to move, to have her own space and plenty of it to put all of her plants. Nightingale Square seems the perfect place and sharing with Eli also seems perfect too. Expect that Eli loves music and Beth ahs been avoiding it ever since her opportunities were taken away from her years before.

As Beth’s new job at the Care Home takes off, she cannot avoid music forever. When the community she finds herself in rally round to raise money for a local project which brings back lots of memories for Beth it seems that her love of music is going to help finally solve her broken heart. If she picks up some love for herself along the way then surely that can only be a good thing?

As with all of Heidi’s books, you are drawn right into the community, to the garden, to the lives of the locals and if there was a book I wanted to go and live in, it would be one of these. The books can be read standalone but why would you want to deprive yourself of such a joy of immersing yourself in Nightingale Square completely.

The perfect summer read

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Summer Fair is out now.

Books

The Café at Marigold Marina – Tilly Tennant

Following the sudden death of her husband, Rosie finds herself in sole charge of the café they bought at Marigold Marina. Far from able to open and start making money, Rosie has channelled her grief into this place to get it up and running.

She opens the doors with thanks to a wonderful assistant, Tabitha and spends all her time in the café. That is her life but she knows there is more to that and it seems there is a glimmer of something when she meets Kit, the owner of the book barge that she can see from her little café. A friendship blossoms.

But something is not quite right an Rosie learns about her husband and a lot about the relationship they had together. It was at these moments, I wanted to cower about the way Rosie was being treated, she just could not see what was happening to her and that frustrated me beyond belief and I think that might have spoiled the book for me a bit. However, her strength she had was clearly there and with the support of the new friends she made, Rosie suddenly found the answer.

The setting of the marina, made me think we were immiedaley by the sea but were in fact on the river in Stratford Upon Avon. I think that needed to be made a bit clearer, because at times throughout the book it really felt like we were by the sea and I had to keep reminding myself we weren’t which distracted me from the book a little. The cover implies you are by the sea, with cliffs and beaches.

A easy romantic read to while away the sunny days, but I have read stronger novels from this author and perhaps would not start with this one if you are new to the author.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this novel.

The Café at Marigold Marina is out now.

Looking back on reviews of other books by this author I have had a real hit and miss experience. I have another book thanks to netgalley to read, but I think perhaps my time is done with this author if that does not hit the spot. Trouble is I am not sure I can tell you what the spot is the book has to hit!

Books

A Wedding in Provence – Katie Fforde

Young, free and full of life Alexandra has everything ahead of her, however it is the mid 1960s and her family guardians are not quite sure about the life she has been leading, so it is time for finishing school and settling down. On her way to a Swiss finishing school, she stops in Paris and ends up taking a job as a nanny in a chateau in Provence.

Three children await her, who need a lot more than a nanny, they need a stable home, schooling and a lot of love. Alexandra draws on her own experiences of having various nanny’s and boarding schools to give these three children the best start in life.

Bringing what she knows from London food and all things English as well as her friend David, Alexandra starts to see these three children start to flourish. What Alexandra didn’t bank on was the flourishing romance with the father of the children.

Can she stay true to herself? Will the love of the area, the children as well as their father be enough to keep Alexandra in Provence? Or will the ex-wife and mother in law prove to much to cope with?

Following on from characters met in A Wedding in the Country, this was a great escapist novel from this author. The warmth and humour just sing from the page and I simply could devour all her books. I hope we go back to these characters in future novels.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel.

A Wedding in Provence is out now.

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

Cover Reveal – The Wisteria Tree of Love

Any regular followers to this blog will know that I enjoy Holly Martin’s novels and that I have been lucky in the past to read some pre-publication and taken part in blog tours. Here I am with a cover reveal of her next novel – The Wisteria Tree of Love.

Get you preorders in here

You can start the adventure of the first in this series of books here while you wait for the Wisteria to blossom and the book to be released.