What Was I reading in September 201(?

For some reason, September was a slow reading month for me as I only managed to read five books.  There was another non- fiction which I gave up on so let’s not talk about that!

woman in blue striped flannel shirt holding a book indoors
The pleasure of reading a good book.

 

I also dipped into a childhood favourite Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree in preparation for an author talk I am presenting later this month. That threw up many memories as well as reflections on how life had changed in the intervening years-. Then the children were routinely expected to help around the house and garden and were served bread and jam and milk for tea.

I have always loved reading.

The other books were a mixed bag of recommendations and whimsical choices

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen.

The Victory Garden.

I spotted this at the local library and having read her On Her Majesties Secret Service was inspired to give it a try. Set in WW1  Britain it offers a glimpse into a forgotten time. For whatever reason, it did not have the same bite and light touch of that series. The story focussed on Emily and Australian pilot Robbie lovers met only to be parted. It focussed on how the privileged young woman defied her parents and went on to make a life for herself. I was a little sceptical that delicately reared Emily could fit so easily into the back-breaking work of a land-girl. That her parents would disown her for defying them was more easily believable. Knowing the British class structure her gradual friendship with Lady Charlton was quite credible. In the second part, of the book, Emily is living in what is known as ‘the witch’s cottage ‘ and practising herbalism.

 

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael RobothamGood Girl Bad Girl

 

Deserves every ounce of praise it received. An intriguing story and one that explores the many preconceptions we have about people. I  found some of the details a bit grisly but the major characters ( Cyrus and Evie )both fascinating and I wanted to know more about them. Thinking all the time how did they survive the traumas in their lives? A bonus for me was it was set in Nottingham the former home of skaters Torvill and Dean and had a bit about ice skating too.

 

Everything Publishing by Karen Mc Dermott.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Subtitled the Ultimate publishing guide and it is. All your publishing questions are answered here and explained in simplified form by someone who knows what she is talking about and who has indeed built a successful publishing empire.

 

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Reid Jenkins

Loved that 70s vibe of the cover

 

Allegedly based on Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, the book reminded me of the movie A Star is Born. Although Daisy Jones started out having it all, looks, money and attitude. Through the multiple perspectives is an interesting way to tell a story. Each tells their own version of ‘the truth’ so the lies, evasion, jealousies are all exposed to scrutiny. And of course, as readers we ask – are they revising as they go? is this the truth as it was then? The songbook at the end of the book adds another layer of authenticity. I kept flicking back to read the songs as they were referred to and imagined them being performed, Camilla Billy’s wife doesn’t appear much in the book, but there is a sense of her presence in the background and perhaps she was the strongest of them all. It reads true.  Did the book live up to the hype? In my opinion, yes it did.

 

 

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle HarrisonA Pinch of MAgic

 

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. This is a mid-grade children’s novel. I would have loved this book as a child, and I enjoyed it now. The Widdershins sisters are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t you love the choice of name? They are brave, resilient and resourceful. They face challenges that are quite a bit worse than they and perhaps we would have liked. I especially liked the dual timeline story and how the two timelines merged.

 

What Was I Reading in July/August 2019?

After the previous computer problems, my monthly reading list has needed to be combined so you and I can catch up.

book opened on top of white table beside closed red book and round blue foliage ceramic cup on top of saucer
Reading always relaxes me-.GIve me a good book and a cup of coffee and my cares melt away.

Charms & Cupcake by Baily Cates

Charms & choclate chips

Three and a half stars from me. Again, a likeable and engaging story. Unfortunately, I somehow missed book two, so I was not reading in sequence. However, it was easy to catch up.  What I like best about this series is how Katie is learning more about her magical abilities and also the ramifications of using magic. Again, an ample supply of suspects, red herrings and a neat solution.

The Witches’ Tree by M.C Beaton

The Witches Tree

I have long been a fan of Agatha Raisin since she burst on the scene in Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. This book does not have the same light tone as the earlier books, it made me wonder if the author had grown tired of the series. It was more satirical about the joys of living in the Cotswolds. Not quite as much fun as I was expecting. Plenty of red herrings and an alarming list of suspects again put Agatha in danger.

 

Bring Your Fiction to Life by  Karen S Wiener

Bring your Ficiton to LIfe

Helpful and informative with a wealth of advice from a hugely prolific author who knows what she is talking about. I think all writers would find something of interest in this book. Useful appendices too

The Bookshop On The Shore by Jenny Colgan

The Book shop on the Shore

A bit more serious than the light-hearted cover design might suggest. Heartfelt and beautifully told –  it certainly did not gloss over some hard situations- self-harm, single parenthood, neglected children etc. But with a hopeful and inspiring message too.

L’Amour Actually  by Melanie Jones

L'amour actually
The perfect cover for this book.

Not quite the romantic idyll that city girl Mel was expecting. For me, it was laughing out loud funny and describes rural life a long way from Paris and Parisienne chic. A cottage which although charming has ‘challenging’ plumbing-plus the rural suspicion of foreigners- including those from Paris. Add a  debonair and charming French man-of course! Lovely to read far less pleasant to live I would imagine. Told with good humour.

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan.

The Lovliest Chocolate shop
Personally, I think this cover is a bit of a disappointment. I woudl have preferred something lusher. But as we know, authors don’t get to choose their book covers.

 

A book that celebrates both Paris and chocolate. It also highlights cultural differences, identity, coming of age, love and all things chocolate. I was delighted to read about Claire managing to escape her dominating father for one magical summer in Paris. Later on, she sends Anna to Paris to recuperate from an accident and once more Paris works its transformational magic. Additionally, the back pages have many tempting and delicious-sounding chocolate recipes.

 

And as I am preparing to give an author talk, I did some research

Your Perfect Presentation by Bill Hoogterp.Your Perfect Presentation

Takes you through the steps needed to build an interesting and informative presentation. A useful book.

TED talks Chris Anderton TED talks

What could I learn from reading about Ted talks? Quite a lot and all relayed in an easy to read and informative style.

With both of these books, I took plenty of notes.

 

 

 

Finally! My June Books.

Double trouble in June /July for me.My desktop crashed-June 23rd  and shortly afterwards my internet connection  also stopped working. It has been forty-four days minus the desktop and a little over three weeks without the internet. Fortunately, I have been able to read.

woman working girl sitting
Missing connection with the wider world

Sail Away by Celia Imrie.

Sail Away

Actress and author Celia Imrie tells this story in her own inimical style.Its a delightful story of women of certain age taking chances and making changes. Embracing the  posstiblities of now. The author’s  depth of knowedge of both acting and luxury cruising make this a lively and entertaining read.

The Strawberry Thief  by Joanne Harris

The Strawberry Thief
The much anticipated fourth book of the Chocolat series.

 

 

How could the Chocolat story continue?  Joanne Harris returns us to Lansquenet-sous-Tannes, and expands Vianne Rocher’s story. Things have changed in the sleepy town, old rivalries forgotten and even the wind seems content to let Vianne stay put. This is a book that reflects on motherhood and having to let our children grow and change. Vianne’s late child Rosette is ‘different,’ like a wild creature she senses things and has never spoken. Anouk, Vianne’s older daughter has gone to Paris  to be with her boyfreind and Vianne  misses her. It means that she cherishes her life with Rosette even more.When changes come to Lansquenet with the arrival  of a mysterious  and charismatic stranger ,Rosette also begins to change. And Vianne  has fears for her younger daughter.

Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier

Wolfskin
I wasn’t inspired by this cover.

I enjoyed the blend of fact and fictional reality ,which drew me in and kept me engaged with the characters and their situation. To be a Wolfskin was to be regarded as among the best of fighters. Reputation and honour figure large, as does trust and friendship. Neglected Pictish culture and mysticism are explored.While the raiding and conquering  the Vikings have their own code of honour.

On the Same Page by Penelope Janú

On the same page
A well deserved XO prize winner

MIles Franklin is the daughter of a literary family- who would be horrifed to know that she writes romance- a genre they despise. Of course, her subterfuge is bound to come out, especially when her girl Friday enters her for prestigious literary award  Add into the mix a handsome publisher, who wont take ‘no,’ for an answer and who insists on  meeting the reclusive ( and fictional) author . Entertaining.

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Once upon a RIver
Meandering RiverThames is part of the wondeful story

I loved her first book, The Thirteenth Tale, an all-time favourite .Sadly, I  wasn’t as thrilled with her second, so I approached this book hesitantly. I need not have worried – it’s a brilliant book  It combines some history of the river Thames ( the river in the title) with an almost fairy-tale feeling story about generations of storytellers and the folk tales of the mysterious and unpredictable river. Abduction, murder, identity theft, are all deflty woven into the plot ,which has a magical quality. I have recommended the book to many people. For me, it’s a 5 star winner.

Miss Seeton Flies High by Hamilton Crane

Miss Seeton
Part of a very long running series.

I was browsing the library catalogue looking for a cosy mystery to read prior to a workshop on  writing cosy mysteries.This title popped up and as I had never heard of the author, I decided to give it a go. There are numerous books in the long running series.It has an ingenious plot, but not having read  any of the  previous books I felt disadvantaged  by people and references to previous  events  It has an Agatha Christie feel about it, and the series  is very popular ,but for me it didn’t really fit into the cosy category .

Creating Characters from the Editors of Writer’s Digest.

Crearting Characters

If you are struggling creating characters, then this book is for you. It has a wealth of information from a range of wrietrs. It is easy to read and you can skip between sections and  chapters. A very useful book

The DandelionYears by Erica James.

Dandelion Years,

A charming story of inter-generational living which highlights both its benefits and its dilemmas. Love and loyalty, family ties, secrets, disappointments. Of course, there are also romances,  poignant and sweet.The book is about the loovongly described  setting, and the craft of book binding and restoration,book shops and book selling – things that appealed to me.

The Forgotten Letters  of Esther Durrant.

 

THe Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant
The beautiful cover

I was fortunate to win a copy of this book and what an eye opening experience reading it was.
Readers may be shocked to learn that in the 1950s women could be confined to a mental home if they suffered from a prolonged post-natal depression. Esther’s is only one of three stories which interlink at some point to form a cohesive whole. This is a thought-provoking book which would be perfect for book clubs. Highly recommended.