Books · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2011

This is the second in a reflective post of ten years of blogging and also to mark the new decade as well. Reflecting back I have rediscovered books and authors I have read and promised myself I would read more, but never getting round to it. I have also seen how much my blogging has perhaps changed, developed and hopefully improved – even if some of it does make me cringe!

So here I am back in 2011, the first full year of blogging.

I was still talking about my crafts – looking back at the pictures it seems that 2011 was a bit of a turning point where I started to branch out with more than one thing on the go (no different to now really)

2011 was the year that I discovered Lucinda Riley with Hothouse Flower 

This is a strong book, with a fairly complex plot and a number of characters but Lucinda Riley weaves a tale that makes it easy to follow and completely absorbing. I found myself wanting to read it any spare minute I had, just to get to the next bit.

I was hooked with this writer and anyone who has been reading this blog for as long as I have been wittering on, will know that I have read many of her novels. I love the current Seven Sisters series but I still think if I had to choose it would be The Girl on the Cliff.

Another author I have read no more of since 2011 is Nicola Upson, I know I did try one of her later ones but at the time did not get on with it. I probably subconsciously gave up with them at the point. Rereading the review for Two For Sorrow, led me to find two other reviews not featured on the blog and to looking out for one of her other books.

2011 was the year that a kindle came into my life. I am now on my second one as the original developed lines and made it difficult to read the screen. I was very dubious at first and am passionate about ‘real’ books, still am. However I then went the other way and started trying out lots of books, because I could and seeing if I wanted to read any of them.

It became a little project which sort of died a death really as some blogging projects do sometimes. I got simply bogged down in looking up and trying out books – I ended up not really reading many of them.

I think when you start a new blog you spend a lot of time trying out what works or doesn’t work for you and sometime you simply need ideas for blog posts. Some work, some don’t and some like this one from Simon at Stuck in A Book I only did once here when it was first brought out and then again for a second time here and for a bit of nostalgia look out for another one of these in the coming weeks and with all credit to Simon.

I look back at the books mentioned and find that some authors I have never ventured back to, others have stuck. How reading changes and introduces you to new things.

One of those new things was Persephone Books- this was my first time in participating a reading challenge and a read along. The book I chose was The Home-Maker. Ironically it is the only Persephone book I still have read and probably all these years later I should perhaps tackle another one.

I did go back and revisit some wonderful childhood books which I have carried on doing over the last ten years or so but may not have written about them. Of course my childhood was dominated by Enid Blyton but sadly many of the books I have read have been given away and the only versions I could find were of the ‘newer’ variety

Yes but there is a problem, I can only download a newer version of her novel. All updated to fit in with the politically correct brigade that seem to lurk around. Oh well, lets just try a sample without having to part with any money and see how we get on? They cannot have changed that much can they? Oh, they have!

Here where I have revisited Five on Treasure Island I go into some of the comparisons. If you ever go back and read them – find the originals not the ‘correct’ versions.

However I did find a copy of the Malory Towers book I read as a child many times and that was a sheer delight. Definitely the place I get my love of school stories from.

The term goes on with the trials and tribulations. Tricks are made with pretend deafness, spiders and spilt ink. Courage and cowardice are fought and lost. Work is hard and positions are important. Tempers are lost and regained and new friendships are formed. I do not need to go into detail of all the events, as they just fit in so seamlessly and that although they are short they are dealt with effectively and efficiently. Good and bad, rights and wrongs corrected. The right sort of justice is dispatched to the right people with no comeback. Rereading as an adult I wonder if perhaps Blyton was using some sort of moral tale with these stories. That thought passes very quickly and I have just enjoyed the book for what it is pure pleasure.

Going back to my childhood took me back to the Mobile Library that visited and also libraries in general. I should use them far more and I don’t and I feel totally ashamed by that. I know I should do more, reflecting back on this post and the last ten years has really made me think. Perhaps I need to redress the balance in 2020. I make no rash promises because I know that life has a funny way of interfering.

There are many things that interfere in life and looking back in 2011 I was busily losing weight – I got to my target, I was more than please but life got in the way the following year. The losing weight ceased and I think I need say no more for the moment. Now is not the time to share about it. But what looking back at 2011 showed me was I shared a lot about food and cooking.

Cakes are a popular bake in my household, carrott, chocolate and cookies. Of course living on your own means you have to adapt and change things around and challenge yourself which I did when I made some Scotch eggs. I don’t think I have made any since – and I know I could quite easily as I have all the ingredients at home.

2011 for blogging was what I call a real mixed bag and I posted about lots of different things as you can see from this post. That has certainly changed as I look back at the blog in the last twelve months. It is all evolving and what I do wonder is what people want when they pop by and read my blog. Do they want to see what else has been going on? Do they want to understand the person behind the book reviews? Only you reading this know that!

So in conclusion from looking back at 2011 I need to find some Nicola Upson books, Persephone books, libraries and Scotch Eggs! I wonder if I will?

 

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2010

This year marks 10 years in August since I started this blog and posting out into the unknown. And as it is a new decade as well, I thought it might be good to reflect back at the last ten years of posting and see how much has changed.

To be honest when I have gone back and looked at some of the posts I have wanted to cringe – did I really say that, did I share that nonsense? I did share a lot more about my crafts in the early posts, which I do not seem to now. Mainly I think because I no longer have a laptop and the only access for a computer (other than work) is when I visit my mum and dad – I have yet to master WordPress on my iPad successfully enough to warrant using it all the time. Perhaps I should endeavour to do more of that in 2020?

The first post I want to link back to is from August 2010 and funnily enough does feature some craft. These were also the days when I had a digital camera and photos were uploaded that way – then along come iPads and iPhones and it all seemed a bit more easier and less of a faff. So much has changed in 10 years.

These are some of the finished projects from that post –

As for the books I read in 2010 – an eclectic mix for sure. Not all of them were reviewed on this blog as I did not start it until three quarters of the way through the year – some of the reviews were originally on Amazon. That said I have looked back and randomly picked out two books (click on the book covers to be taken to the review)

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader.

This is the story of Julie Jacobs who upon the death of her Aunt, her guardian since her mother and father died in a tragic car accident, learns the truth about her name, her place in life, her background and her history. History which goes back to the 14th Century and involves a familiar story to Julie, in fact her favourite – William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and theories about where Shakespeare got his stories from and where they fit into today literature then this is the book for you.

So that is a look back from the posts of 2010 and if anything I have picked up a reminder of the lovely stitching designers I liked and have patterns of galore in my home. The books I read were very varied and I picked up an author I have not read anymore of since 2010 – Deanna Raybourn so I think I might have to rectify that and also share the reviews of the first three novels that I read.

I am going to look at 2011 next, so please pop back at some point over the coming weeks and months to see what I have rediscovered.

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2019

And with a blink if eye another year has passed (in fact a decade – more about that on another post) and it is time to reflect on what perhaps I have read this year…..

Numbers and statistics first!

107 books in total – 2 less than last year but still more than recent years. And there was no rush to the finish either.

Shortest book was 48 Pages

Longest book was 672 Pages

In total 35,554 pages read.

81 were on my kindle. In the main that is in fact due to my requests on netgalley which has enabled me to read a lot of lovely new books before they hit the shelves and I can share them with you all. However I find that sometimes that can be my undoing as when I ventured into my local bookshop, I looked round and thought ‘read that and that’. That said I am endeavouring to keep my list down on netgalley to a more manageable level and reading more off my shelves….well that’s the plan.

So what books have stood out for me in 2019? Everyone’s list is different, for different reasons and I think sometimes list envy kicks in when you think I have not read the books that everyone else is or has read. So my list is my list.

Mystery and Crime – When I got back to looking at the last ten years of reading, I realise that perhaps this genre has tailed off in recent years. My need for “happy” probably is my current state of mind. However I choose these books

Historical Fiction – now what do I choose to put in this category? Books about the past and ‘real’ people or books simply set in the past. Which some of the books in the previous category would happily fit into.

 

Multiple Books – in other words authors who I have read more than one of their oeuvre in 2019.

More statistics – 7 authors who I have read 3 books of are as follows Sarah Bennett, Agatha Christie, Emma Davies, Rachel Dove, Liz Eeles, Holly Martin, Robin Stevens. 

I will give a special mention to Agatha Christie – whose work is still confounding people even after all these years.  She cannot of course say anything back to me!

I will pick out another 3 who deserve special mentions

Sarah Bennett – 2019 was the year of Bluebell Castle and the best of her work so far, in my humble opinion. I am a great advocate of her work and witter on about it on here and twitter where we are tiwtter chums.

Holly Martin – her books need no introduction, apart from the fact if you want an absorbing read and pure escapism. Holly must be your go to author.

Robin Stevens – a new author to me and I stumbled across this delightful series of children’s books. They are pitched for 9-11 year olds but I think they are tremendous jolly fun. A cross between Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie and I just love the bright colours of the covers.

Of the authors who I have read 2 books of it is quite a list, Phillipa Ashley, Trisha Ashley, Christie Barlow, Julie Caplin, Georgina Clarke, Liz Fenwick, Rachael Lucas, Libby Page, Laura Purcell, Nancy Revell, Caroline Roberts, Helen Rolfe, Sara Sheridan, Heidi Swain and Tilly Tennant.

Who to choose of the 15….

Heidi Swain – one of the authors who I can rely on to cheer me from beginning of a book right up to the end. And despite many witterings on here I still have not read her first book The Cherry Tree Cafe.

 

Georgina Clarke – combining many things, strong women, crime and history. What more could someone like me who is a fan of such things want in a novel. A new author this year and one to watch!

 

Nancy Revell if there ever was a series that you wanted to run and run this is it. If you love historical saga then you will love The Shipyard Girls series.

Christie Barlow – the Love Heart Lane is another heartwarming series and I just want to move there! Which considering I also want to move to Bluebell Castle with Sarah Bennett and Wynbridge with Heidi Swain, it is going to be rather difficult.

And Finally.…mention must go to these

As I look back at this year, I then go back and look at the last decade of reading. But that is for another post because I am really not sure how I consolidate, categories, list or even talk about all those books.

In terms of this blog, I cannot believe it has been going for so long. Thank you to everyone who visits whether it is every week or only now and again.

In 2019 I posted 102 posts (50,731 words!), which looking back is about average. Gone are the heady days of 177 posts in 2012. I actively chose to stop reviewing every book I read as it was becoming too much to maintain and I suppose I have stepped away from posting anything other than ‘book’ posts in the recent years.

So let’s get on with the next year, the next decade and the next book!

Books · Jottings · Witterings

September Roundup

September can always feel like a new year for me, when you have an enforced break from work as I do, it feels all ‘back to school’ somehow. Anyhow, as I get used to waking up in the dark, swimming in the dark and those darker nights setting in, the reading continues apace.

I was never going to beat my wonderful record in August, not that I had time too but Setpember has turned out to be the month of the kindle reading. Despite me actually starting and reading a physical book.

I having been trying to get through a backlog of books and when I get a bit request happy on netgalley they can build up. So I decided to jump in with Gill Paul – Another Woman’s Husband a book I have had for a while and one that I thought sound intriguing and interesting. The Princess Diana storyline did not sit quite right with me but the story of Mrs Wallis Simpson drew me right in and again reminded me of the power of historical fiction.

I had Cath Staincliffe – Ruthless for so long on the to read shelf, that it could almost be called historical fiction. The wonderful Scott and Bailey from the ITV series are brought to life here in one of three novels. I love Cath Staincliffe’s writing there is something so honest and unfussy about it all, the plot was great and had me more hooked that the tv programme.

What also had me hooked this month was Joanna Nell – The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker which I describe as a thoughtful and poignant book. Some might find it a difficult read and in places it was but I think it needed to be as we look with Mrs Henry Parker for the man Henry himself.

The Christmas reading obviously continues and by the time it comes round I will probably be all Christmas read out and want something completely opposite. (I have plans for that point) So where to start?

With an invitation of course! Trisha Ashley – The Christmas Invitation latest novel is one of sheer joy and it would not be Christmas without a novel from Trisha. No pressure! The books takes you to the depths of places Trisha has been before and you get to experience Christmas – full on!

Christmas is not easy for everyone and in Tilly Tennant – The Garden on Sparrow Street I would say that Nina is struggling to find ehr new future. A great start to Christmas reading as this book will ease you in gently.

As did Katie Ginger – Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage which was the first book I have read by this author. It took a while to get going but when it did, I was drawn into the cottage and it was great to see how the fallout of one particular event unfolded. I will certainly go back and look out her other novels.

If you want to go full on Christmas then go to Holly Martin – The Gift of Happiness a return to the wonderful village of happiness which embraces Christmas wholeheartedly even if the Christmas lights are bit suspect! I love Holly’s books they are so heartwarming that it feels like a great big hug.

As for Emma Davies – The Little Shop on Silver Linings Street she is also someone who can take you away in the pages of their book with such wonderful stories that you wonder where they all come from. It all works so beautifully and it was great to be able to relate to characters from previous novels too.

Enough about Christmas – it is only September…well October now. I know there is more Christmas to come and that is without even discussing it for work. But I must try and make a dent again in the physical books I have on the shelf just to perhaps dilute all the tinsel and snow.

Happy October readers.

Books · Jottings

Roundup – Six in Six 2019

 

First of all a very big THANK YOU to everyone who joined in. We might be a select bunch but I hope those that have just read our posts are inspired by some more in their reading, to all the new blog followers, watchers and readers it has been great to discover your little piece of the internet.

Here is a list of everyone that joined in this year. If I have missed you off or you know someone who took part but failed to link back to me, then let me know and I can add. We are growing year on year ever so slowly but we all have one thing in common – we like to read!

In no particular order please check out these fellow Six in Sixers!

Happy reading and discovering folks!

Superfluous Reading

The Bookworm Chronicles

Read Warbler

Letters from a Hill Farm

BooksPlease

She Reads Novels

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Pining for the West

An Adventure in Reading

sprite writes

FictionFan’s Book Reviews

A Darn Good Read

The Quiet Geordie

 

I hope you enjoy the next six months of reading and see you all in 2020!

Books · Jottings · Witterings

July Roundup

Another hot month and the reading has gone at two speeds  – fast and interminably slow! I blame the heat and nothing else.

Just because it is hot at home doesn’t mean it cannot be hot elsewhere on my reading travels. Which is why I was whisked away with Julie Caplin – The Secret Cove in Croatia – like reading a fictional holiday brochure! Utter bliss.

Of course I could stay at home and so I did with the latest Sarah Bennett – Sunshine over Bluebell Castle, the next in the trilogy and I spent many a happy hour vicariously gardening with Iggy and the gorgeous Will.

With all the heat what a better place to be than in the water – Libby Page – The Lido. The book has been on my radar for a while and it is the most delightful book I have read in a longtime, so touching and so gentle it deserves a second read and I need to get to my local lido!

Of course if you can’t go abroad or in a castle and you have no pool near you what about Emma Davies – The Beekeeper’s Cottage a place to relax and watch the bees do what they do best whilst the flowers of the farm next door, wave their stems in the wind releasing a scent that wafts off the page.

All of these are great summer reads, but actually will warm the coldest of days too!

Summer would not be summer without at wedding or two, and I have only one to experience as I catch up with Rachel Dove‘s work– The Wedding Shop on Wexley Street  another place in the fictional little town of Westfield.

Looking back on the previous six months of reading with my little exclusive meme Six in Six made me realise that I have read very little crime, easily sorted in July it seems.

Trying to work my way through some more Christie means I have picked up Agatha Christie – The Secret Adversary a Tommy and Tuppence novel which was featured in the Read Christie 2019 to be found on the official website. I do enjoy a gentle stroll back to some crime fiction of past ages.

I went even further back with Georgina Clarke – The Corpse Played Dead who has given us another tail of Lizzie Hardwicke, a lady of a certain occupation helping the magistrates and the Bow Street Runners – certainly know doing things ‘by the book’ in this novel.

Three years in the waiting meant I was thrilled to be back with Kate Saunders – Laetitia Rodd and the Case of the Wandering Scholar. Another historical crime novel, featuring a strong female lead and this time I was taken into the depths of missing men, affairs, murders and romance.

I finish July, reading another gothic novel, which I think is supposed to frighten me but as of yet has simply kept me reading with no nasty side effects.

August brings holiday and even more time for reading – I simply cannot wait.

Books

Six in Six 2019 – My Choices

So without further ado here is my Six in Six for 2019.

  • Six books with workplaces in their title

Farm

Cafe

Shipyard

Picture House

Lighthouse

School

  • Six authors I have read before
  1. Lucinda Riley
  2. Heidi Swain
  3. Nancy Revell
  4. Christie Barlow
  5. Veronica Henry
  6. Sarah Bennett
  • Six books from the past that drew me back there
  1. Sara Sheridan – Mirabelle Bevan Series (Russian Roulette & Indian Summer)
  2. Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village
  3. Hazel Gaynor – The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
  4. Liz Fenwick – The Path to the Sea
  5. Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot
  6. Erica James – The Dandelion Years
  • Six new authors to me
  1. Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village
  2. Erica James – The Dandelion Years
  3. Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot
  4. Caroline Roberts – Rachel’s Pudding Pantry
  5. Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions
  6. Kirsty Wark – The House on the Loch

 

  • Six Extracts from reviews I have written in 2019

This is a wonderful heartwarming novel, which deals with many issues across a spectrum – from “cradle to grave” and all of the characters in the book are wonderful. Add to that the setting of Scotland and the power of the weather and it felt I was transported right up there and was sharing the community spirit which simply floated off the pages. (Love Heart Lane – Christie Barlow)

*

The story though is ultimately about Greta and how despite being a Goldbaum from one branch and having to marry into another branch is fiercely independent and determined to make her mark and not be overlooked in any way. Her actions and challenges to the norm and what is ‘expected’ were both heartwarming and heartbreaking. She can be found naked under the cherry tree in the early days of marriage, she will breastfeed her son herself. She will understand the power and knowledge that women  can have in a man’s world. She will love and she will grieve, for everything she knows about her Goldbaum history will be torn apart by war and the greed of money. (House of Gold – Natasha Solomons)

*

This is a fantastic read. It has everything you want from a book, humour, tragedy, light and dark moments and covers some difficult subjects with careful consideration. Plus I got to learn a lot about viticulture as well as the word itself! Wonderful characters which are introduced gradually and all play a part in the overall story. They are not all flung in at the beginning of the novel, but woven into the tale as you go so they are full formed and can be remembered quite clearly once you have put the book down.

Vintage Cathy Bramley which absolutely fizzes! (A Vintage Summer – Cathy Bramley)

*

Will Bluebell Castle survive the debts, the intrigued and the new love burgeoning within its walls?

It has everything that I could possibly want from a really good story; romance, mystery, history, a castle and even a Butler! If all or any of these things, fascinate you then read the book, it will bring joy to you in abundance.

It is like the Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey and I am totally in love with it! Sarah Bennett has done it again and I think this is going to be her best series to date. (Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett)

*

This novel is told from all the three main character points of view, to help with your understanding and timeline, chapters are dated so we go between present day and the past.

The writing is so subtle that I was immediately drawn into the house party of Boskenna and the mystery that continued to build around the events and the house had me in mind of Rebecca…….I was convinced that Mrs Danvers was going to appear. Whilst of course she doesn’t the secrets that are tied up in the house and the family are going to have to come out.

The Cornish setting added to the atmosphere and the author has an uncanny knack of making it all three dimensional away from the page. I could taste the salt in the sea air and feel the heat of the sun. (A Path to the Sea – Liz Fenwick)

*

This is a great read which took me to the ever changing weather and landscapes of the Highlands of Scotland. Whilst characters first appeared in an earlier novel by Colgan which I had not read, there was enough background to see me through as this book is very much focussed on Zoe and Hari as well as the three children she comes to care for.

Subtly done, some rather difficult situations are encountered, selective mutism, mental health issues in youngsters as well as romance and friendships, the book has so much to give and was one of my favourite reads of 2019 so far. (The Bookshop on the Shore – Jenny Colgan)

 

  • Six books I have read but not reviewed
  1. Sarah Sheridan – Russian Roulette
  2. Agatha Christie – Dumb Witness
  3. Lucinda Riley – The Angel Tree
  4. Erica James – The Dandelion Years
  5. Judy Finnigan – Eloise
  6. Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions

That is my choices, I am really enjoying reading yours and there is still time to join in and tell everyone what you have enjoyed in the first six months of 2019.