Books · Jottings

June Roundup

Of course now we are into July you can start posting your Six in Six posts. If you don’t know what I am on about please check out the link here and share what has been good and not so good in the last 6 months.

I packed a lot into the month of June, mainly because we have had some awful rainy days where there is nothing better than curling up with a book but also some blistering hot days when it is too hot to do anything apart from read and cool down with a gin and tonic.

Of course when you read it can be summer all the time and this month was certainly in terms of reading.

I caught up with Liz Eeles – A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle, nothing better than a browse in a bookshop and a strawberry cake for a treat as well. I hope all is still well at the Cosy Kettle.

Not everyone has access to bookshops so the bookshop can come to them it turns out in Jenny Colgan – The Bookshop on the Shore revisiting characters I had not met but a wonderful story which means I need to catch up in what goes on in Scotland.

Scotland happened to be a frequent place for me this month. I was beyond excited to catch up with the villagers of Heartcross in Christie Barlow – Foxglove Farm and even more excited that there will be another book. I don’t get out much!

I embraced Kirsty Wark – The House on the Loch which was a story of a family where tragedy creates a place to stay and the past is clearly affecting the present. Fascinating and well written, I need to read Wark’s debut novel this being the ‘difficult’ second novel.

Then within a page or two I can be transported down to Somerset in Veronica Henry – A Home from Home more family differences and secrets to be discovered.

Somerset is the perfect stop on the way to Cornwall which is where I ended up with Holly Martin – The Little Village of Happiness the premise an intriguing one – come and stay in the village of Happiness for a year with your own house and shop for free. Some people need to work at their happiness.

Of course you can go abroad for the summer to find out the answers to some questions and find your own happiness as well, Italy seems a popular place. Alex Brown – A Postcard from Italy a mix of modern and historical fiction in a change from what you would expect from Alex Brown. Though the glorious village of Tindledale is mentioned as it is in the little short story as well Alex Brown – The Great Summer Sewing Bee.

Some people see festivals as their holiday time and interspersed with weddings they can also make a summer. Annie Robertson – Four Weddings and a Festival takes you there in what I can only describe as a love letter of a book to Richard Curtis films and Hugh Grant!

But even if it is not all romance and weddings, festivals and farms it can still be very much families as it was in Agatha Christie – Dumb Witness. Another one to tick off my list and realise the brilliance of the writing and the plot.

What has you start to summer been like?

Books · Jottings

May Roundup

Here we go then May done and dusted. How did that happen?

I am trying my best to read my shelves as well as all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) books I am lucky enough to get through netgalley.

I aim to do more of the shelf reading as we go into June. But for May I took off Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions which had been hanging around for a while and I don’t know why because I was fascinated with this novel and whilst I have not reviewed I would certainly recommend it to readers who like the gothic and the ghostly.

Another book which has to have been on the shelf even longer was Judy Finnigan – Eloise. This was her first novel and very readable, it kept me hooked and whilst I was intrigued by the characters, despite some of the weakness they had in being fully formed by the author there was something about the writing which felt very simplistic. I have her second to read so I want to see if anything has improved. That said if you want a simple readable novel you cannot go far with this one.

Then you get readable novels which are wonderfully written and cleverly plotted and tell stories of the past and present and this was very much so with Liz Fenwick – The Path to the Sea. The latest novel is for of secret and mystery and the setting is in almost three dimensions it is so wonderfully described. I really must get round to reading the other Liz Fenwick books I have.

I have read some Tilly Tennant books and loved them and I have read some and thought they were missing something and had become a bit pedestrian. But I dived into Tilly Tennant – Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts and was suitably surprised. Sometimes you have to stick with authors, they can suddenly surprise you!

No more so when I picked up Ali McNamara – Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay another author whose books I was not keen on from the early part of her oeuvre but who has suddenly developed and become someone whos books I really love to read. Her latest is no different and the added bonus of some mystery and some ghosts made it a book to enjoy and probably read again.

Another bonus is a free book and that was the case with Cathy Bramley – We’ll Meet Again whose free short story via Amazon gives some background to the new serialised novel she has coming out soon. I am going to be patient and wait until the whole thing is out and I was really good and did not read the preview which was also included in the short story.

Of course I go back to authors again and again, which is why I visited Emma Davies – The House at Hope Corner having devoured her books last year and was thrilled to be immersed once again and in a wonderful plot and with delightful characters and the expectation of more novels towards the end of the year.

Catching up with a series is always a blessing and I am slightly jealous of people who have yet to start the Mirabelle Bevan series but I thoroughly enjoyed Sara Sheridan – Indian Summer. If you want strong female characters, history and mystery then this is the series for you.

I am a bit behind with Rachel Dove’s series of novels which have been set in Westfield. So with the opportunity to read her latest, I thought I better get on and catch up with the residents which is why I was with Rachel Dove – The Flower Shop on Foxley Street. 

It might seem I read nothing but authors that I know and love and of course I do, but at one time they had to be authors who were new to me and this is the case with Emma Rous – The Au Pair. A debut novel and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat despite its initial flaws, the writing, the plot and the author is one to be intrigued by.

Quite a good month of reading and I also made the decision to let loose a book that I wasn’t getting on with too. Such a relief to not trawl through something that is bringing you no joy whatsoever.

So on with June, I am up to speed with my yearly Goodreads Challenge and of course look out for Six in Six which will make a return for the select few who join in. I would love for you to spread the word when I put the post up.

Happy Reading in June.

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

Been a funny month, been reading but not had the inclination to blog, then not had the time because I have been knitting and then not had time to knit because I have been working or away. February is more of the same and I cannot wait!

It has been a slow start to the year, especially when I had a week at the beginning to get stuck into some books. But finishing my challenge of 100 in a year seems a long way off at the moment.

Got really into sagas this month and was surprised with Jennifer Wells – The Murderess which had more than the average saga.

I was swept up with Elaine Everest – The Woolworths Girls a book I bought myself last year and wanting to make a dent in actual books thought I would read. Which then led me to read Elaine Everest – Carols at Woolworths so I could continue the tale. The next book is a Christmas one and although I would not normally read such themed books in February it looks like I might have to so I can keep up with all the characters that I have grown to love.

I fell for the latest serialised Holly Hepburn by accident but have read book two now Holly Hepburn – Frosty Mornings at Castle Court now I have started I am going to have to finish!

A book that I wish I had not started and should have not finished was Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle the idea of the book sounded great, the delivery of it was clever but it just did nothing for me. I was disappointed with it and with myself for perhaps wasting time on pursuing it to the end.

Sophie Green – The Inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club – this was an interesting book which took me all the way to the outback, to a cattle station, to Australia. It was a strong female character led novel and it had me intrigued about the isolation. It reminded me of another book I have read by Monica McInerney which then reminded me I have one of hers waiting to be read…….

But in the meantime I picked up another saga to read for a blog tour, a new author to me with a cracking good story to tell.

How was your first month of 2018 reading wise?

 

Books

November Roundup

November by tradition is always a quiet month for reading, this year even more so as it was a ‘zero’ birthday for me and much was taken up with celebrating. I am still eating the birthday cake.. don’t worry it is fruit, well made so, well-preserved.

It has very much been a Christmas month for me and catching up with people who I have come across in this years reading.

I only recently read The Canal Boat Cafe so I was delighted to see that there was more to follow with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Port Out where they reach Little Venice in London for some Christmas themed cakes and some ghost of Christmas past! And if you go Port Out you always go Starboard Home and that is lined up ready for reading in December.

I was lucky enough to complete the trilogy of Butterfly Cove and got to spend and early Christmas with the lovely Mia, Kiki and Nee in Sarah Bennett – Christmas at Butterfly Cove. It is always a sign of good writing and good stories that makes me sad to leave a place and that is certainly the case with this particular book.

I have mainly been disappointed by some of Tilly Tennant novels , they seem to not grab me as much as some other authors do but prepared to have my mind changed I embarked on Tilly Tennant – A Very Vintage Christmas. Sadly it was a book which could have been so much more, I do have the second in this Christmas selection she has written but I approach it with some trepidation.

Cornwall has featured heavily in many setting and plot in books I have read over the last couple of years and was probably one of the reasons I picked up Liz Eeles book back in May. I venture back for a colder and probably wetter Christmas in Liz Eeles – Annie’s Christmas by the Sea which was a lovely tale.

With all this jollity and festiveness what about a little bit of murder. This is the first in a series of novels, featuring each of the Mitford Sisters in turn. Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Murders starts with the eldest Nancy who becomes embroiled in a murder on a train. What makes it even more intriguing is that some of the book is actually based on real life events. But I am not going to tell you which – you can read the book and find out for yourself.

So that was November, and to add a bit less Christmas and a bit more excitement I finished it reading Paula Hawkins second novel Into the Water – more of that in December.

 

Books

October Roundup

So there goes October, a funny month. The weather cannot make its mind up, I have been full of cold and yet I am still swimming outside! And so begins the countdown to Christmas and the reading continues apace with it.

Lily Graham – Christmas at Hope Cottage is one of those magical Christmas stories that fill you with hope and food. There is some magic food happening on the tables of Hope Cottage.

Of course you need a drink with Christmas and it will depend on what your favourite tipple might be. I expect you can guess what mine is? Catherine Miller – Christmas at the Gin Shack sees us return to octogenarian Olive and her friends as they discover more about Gin and friendship in difficult times.

If you only have time for a few short stories then turn to Katie Fforde – The Christmas Stocking and other Stories, if you are a fan of this author you will recognise some but still read them because they are brilliantly written and capture the spirit of Christmas is just the right amount of pages. The new stories are just as capturing.

It cannot all be about Christmas in October, which is why I have gone back a bit to Summer and picked up a book that has been sitting on myself for an age. Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe, why I had not read this sooner when I enjoy the author I do not know. However I was transported away to the freedom of a Canal Boat and the wonderful Summer who is struggling to make a go of a very different lifestyle, especially when it seems many are against her. I am also thrilled to see that two short stories, Christmas themed of course are due out following on from this story so I read it just at the right time.

Another book which was a sort of serendipity to me was Poppy Dolan – The Woolly Hat Knitting Club. I love crafts and in the middle of doing quite a bit of knitting, for myself and for others. In particular the little babies born at my local hospital. If you are a fan of knitting then this book is a must and if you want to knit something yourself then get in contact and I can direct you to some great patterns. I am looking forward to seeing what Poppy writes about next.

I always enjoy getting into a saga and I have this year with Nancy Revell and the Shipyard Girls series. I have read books one and two and was thrilled to be able to get hold of book three. Nancy Revell – Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is a good read and it was lovely to be back amongst women that you have grown to know and admire as war still rages and loves still has to conquer all, no matter what stands in its way.

Sometimes with all these ‘nice’ reads as I call them, you need something which is a bit more meaty with the odd dead body or two. So I was intrigued by what is to be a new series of books by an author I have heard of but not read, publishing under a different name is how I came to get M.B.Shaw – Murder at the Mill. It sounded promising but for me did not really live up expectation. I think I have read too many Agatha Christie.

Which leads me to the 1968 club and my choice which was Agatha Christie – By The Pricking of My Thumbs. I try and participate when I can in these clubs as it is a useful way for me, to be able to make my way through Christie’s catalogue!

So that is it for October, my netgalley shelves are positively bowing with the weight of books that I have requested and I have more actual books wandering around my house looking forlorn by not being read. So time for more reading.

Books

The Christmas Stocking & Other Stories – Katie Fforde

The first thing to note is that this publication has two short stories which have previously been published around Christmas time. However they are short stories and so wonderfully written that it will do you no harm in reading them all over again – just like I have!

Candlelight at Christmas (previously published) – featuring characters from Recipe in Love (which I still have not read) shows how Christmas can be as much fun, even if you have the in-laws from hell, too many guests and suddenly no electricity to cook the turkey!

A Christmas in Disguise (previously published) – can Jo really pull of not just being someone else but also cooking a Christmas Dinner and pretending to be a girlfriend all in one day!

The Christmas Stocking – Romy is busy selling decorations and gifts on her stall at the market. The weather has taken a turn for the worse and the cold is really starting to bite Romy.

When a mysterious man brings her a hot drink to warm her up, so begins an unlikely friendship which is intensified by it being Christmas Eve the next day, the snow, the music studio all in the depth of the woods. Romy’s Christmas this years is going to be very different from what she planned.

A Dream Christmas – getting married on Christmas Eve is a dream for many (me included) and when Ginny and Ben finally make it out of their wedding reception and have some time for themselves.

When the taxi drops them at Withycome Lodge, the housekeeper’s cottage it seems to be in the middle of nowhere almost a dream…..log fires, warming baths, snow and an unseen member of staff mean this is going to be the honeymoon that everyone dreams of.

Or is it?

Dogs are for Christmas  – Stella  goes for a walk early Christmas morning to the Dog Walker’s Christmas Tree where people come to remember their treasured pets that are no longer around. She wants to put her dad’s dogs ashes there. Her dad’s beloved dog, died a few days after its owner.

Stella did not think she would suddenly have company so early and especially not from two exuberant misbehaving dogs, Tris and Izzy and an apologetic dog sitter, Fitz.

Perhaps Stella’s Christmas is going to be full of dogs after all.

The Christmas Fairy – everyone needs one surely? Ella is sent to help Brent look after his two nieces and nephew when their parents have to make a mad dash to France to look after sick relatives. Ella as the fairy is there to make sure everything is going okay and occupy them all in the depths of Scotland and so they don’t miss their parents too much.

Trouble is Ella seems to be sprinkling a bit of fairy dust very close to home. Perhaps she will get her Christmas wish too.

This is a collection of wonderful stories which can be read time and time again. Perfect for getting into the Christmas Spirit whatever the month or the weather! In fact I think they would make great Christmas Eve afternoon stories, curled up in the front of the log fire. A hot toddy, a mince-pie warm oozing with Brandy Butter, the tin of Roses open with wrappers left about in gay abandon like coloured snowflakes. Indulge it may be the only time you can in what can be a busy time!

This also includes a preview of Katie Fforde’s new novel, out in 2018. As with such things when they appear in books I do not read them, as the frustration of not being able to continue the story is incalculable!

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

The Christmas Stocking and other stories is out on 2 Nov

 

Books · Jottings

June Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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