October, I dont quite know how I managed to read so many books. I was more selective with my time and only watched TV if something interested me. Obviously, not a lot did last month! The cats and I snuggled up and I read.
Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brackston.
The second novel in a bewitching series “brimming with charm and charisma” that will make “fans of Outlander rejoice!” (Woman’s World Magazine)
New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s The Little Shop of Found Things was called “a page-turner that will no doubt leave readers eager for future series installments” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with its sequel, Secrets of the Chocolate House
After her adventures in the seventeenth century, Xanthe does her best to settle back into the rhythm of life in Marlborough. She tells herself she must forget about Samuel and leave him in the past where he belongs. With the help of her new friends, she does her best to move on, focusing instead on the success of her and Flora’s antique shop.
But there are still things waiting to be found, still injustices needing to be put right, still voices whispering to Xanthe from long ago about secrets wanting to be shared.
While looking for new stock for the shop, Xanthe hears the song of a copper chocolate pot. Soon after, she has an upsetting vision of Samuel in great danger, compelling her to make another journey to the past.
This time she’ll meet her most dangerous adversary. This time her ability to travel to the past will be tested. This time she will discover her true destiny. Will that destiny allow her to return home? And will she be able to save Samuel when his own fate seems to be sealed.
My Review. After enjoying book one, I was eager to read book two and continue the story. Once again Xanthe is called by an object-this time a chocolate pot. Xanthe is trying to ignore the call knowing that her mother’s health means she always needs assistance. But then, Samuel appears to be in danger, and she feels compelled to go to help him. However, nothing goes to plan, and Xanthe is in more danger than she can imagine. She’s facing new hazards and new risks and an unknown enemy.
Bombproof by Michael Robotham.
A kinetic standalone from “first-class storyteller” Michael Robotham (San Francisco Chronicle).
Sami Macbeth is not a master criminal. He’s not even a minor one. He’s not a jewel thief. He’s not a safe-cracker. He’s not an expert in explosives.
Sami plays guitar and wants to be a rock god but keeps getting side-tracked by unforeseen circumstances. Fifty-four hours ago Sami was released from prison. Thirty-six hours ago he slept with the woman of his dreams at the Savoy. An hour ago his train blew up.
Now he’s carrying a rucksack through London’s West End and has turned himself into the most wanted terrorist in the country. Fast, funny, hip and violent, Bombproof is a non-stop adventure full of unforgettable characters and a heart-warming hero–Sami Macbeth–a man with the uncanny ability to turn a desperate situation into a hopeless one.
My Review. it is non-stop action and risk. Suspend disbelief and go along for a fast-paced ride. This could be a Guy Ritchie film, highly visual and at times highly violent. All the seedier sides of life are exposed and yet it is highly plausible.
Seances Are for Suckers by Tamara Berry
When something goes bump in the night . . . it’s most likely a plumbing problem, or something equally mundane. But fake medium Eleanor Wilde is happy to investigate and cleanse your home of spectral presences—for a fee. Hey, it’s a living.
Ellie has an ailing sister to care for, and working as a ghost hunter who doesn’t believe in ghosts helps cover the bills for both of them. When she’s lucky, it also pays for the occasional tropical vacation. Her brother doesn’t exactly approve, but Ellie figures she’s providing a service. On her latest job, though, she may be in for some genuine scares. The skeptical, reserved, and very rich Nicholas Hartford III has flown her all the way to his family’s ancestral estate in England—supposedly haunted by a phantom named Xavier. Nicholas thinks it’s all just as much a crock as Ellie’s business is, but the fact remains that something is causing the flashes of light, mysterious accidents, and other apparent pranks in the chilly, eerie castle. His mother is sure that Xavier is real, and he’s willing to employ Ellie if she can get to the bottom of it and put a stop to the nonsense.
While the food and accommodations are somewhat disappointing (dorm-room furniture? Really?), Ellie is finding it an adventure to get to know this eccentric family and their house-guests, and to poke around in the nearby village for clues. But when an actual dead body appears—and subsequently disappears—at Castle Hartford, she’ll have to apply her talent for trickery and psychological insight to solve a flesh-and-blood murder.
My Review. The first book in a series sets the tone for the rest. Ellie is pragmatic and practical with a useful line between self-belief and scepticism. She’s not above a little trickery if it achieves her objectives. Ellie finds it less amusing though when the tricks are being played on her. Someone wants her investigation to succeed, while an unknown someone wants it to fail. Then there is Nicholas is he a help or a distraction?
The Picture House by the Sea by Holly Hepburn
The brilliant new novel from the bestselling author of A Year at the Star and Sixpence. Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley. All four Picture House novellas in one book!
The picture house by the sea is the Palace at Polwhipple – a lovely art deco cinema, nestled in front of azure Cornish seas. But it is long past its heyday now, and its only saving grace is Ferrelli’s, the family run ice-cream concession in the foyer, which is widely known as the best ice-cream for miles.
So when Ferdie, the owner of Ferelli’s, breaks his leg, his granddaughter Gina drops everything to come and help out. But when she arrives she is dismayed by the state of the cinema, which she remembers fondly from summer holidays when she was little, and she is determined to give it the makeover it deserves. Along with local renovation expert Ben, she sets about reviving the Palace to its former glory.
But the cinema needs more than a lick of paint. Its very future is under threat from a developer with greed in his eyes. Can Gina save the place before it is too late?
** Disclaimer: originally published in four parts as eBooks
My Review. Just what I expected from Holly Hepburn an easy and escapist read. Divided into four parts as the original e-books were released. Each instalment adds to the story of the picture house by the sea. Gina is torn between helping her grandparents and keeping her London life. The longer she stays the more distant London and her boyfriend Max seems. There’s all grown-up Ben, someone she used to know. Themed around some ‘classic’ movies. It ticks all the boxes for easy reading and escapism
The Witch’s Kind by Louise Morgan
From the author of A Secret History of Witches comes an absorbing tale of love, sacrifice, family ties, and magic, set in the Pacific Northwest in the aftermath of World War II.
Barrie Anne Blythe and her aunt Charlotte have always known that the other residents of their small coastal community find them peculiar — two women living alone on the outskirts of town. It is the price of concealing their strange and dangerous family secret.
But two events threaten to upend their lives forever. The first is the arrival of a mysterious abandoned baby with a hint of power like their own. The second is the sudden reappearance of Barrie Anne’s long-lost husband — who is not quite the man she thought she married.
Together, Barrie Anne and Charlotte must decide how far they are willing to go to protect themselves — and the child they think of as their own — from suspicious neighbors, the government, and even their own family…
My Review. A mixed reaction from me. On the one hand, the writing was lyrical and a pleasure to read However, even with the time changes signposted I found the story confusing at times. I kept wondering where the baby was and of course, it was prior to her arrival. The ending made me think there was a possibility of this being the first in a series.
Elephants: Birth, Life, and Death in the World of the Giants by Hannah Mumby.
What Jane Goodall did for chimpanzees, international ecologist and conservation scientist Hannah Mumby now does for elephants in this compelling, eye-opening account that brings into focus this species remarkably similar to humans—and makes a persuasive argument for saving them.
From early childhood, Dr. Hannah Mumby has loved wildlife, especially elephants. Her first wild elephant sighting at twenty-four changed the course of her life. Since then, she has devoted herself to studying these incredible animals and educating humanity about them. Hannah’s field work has taken her around the world, where she has studied many elephant groups, including both orphaned elephants and the solitary elephant males.
These remarkable animals have so much to teach us, Mumby argues, and The Elephant in the Mirror takes readers into their world as never before, revealing a society as complex as the chimpanzees, maybe even humans. Mumby’s exploration of elephant culture provides an empathetic, humanistic portrait of these majestic animals, illuminating their personalities, memories, and rich emotional lives. Mumby explains how elephants communicate with one another and demonstrates the connection between memory and trauma how it affects individual elephants and their interactions with others in their herd. Elephants and humans, Mumby makes clear, are not very different. From emotional bonding to communication, human and elephant experience similarly nuanced lives, and the commonalities she uncovers are both surprising and heart-warming.
Featuring a 16-page color insert of original photography, The Elephant in the Mirror is a captivating, deeply moving exploration that offers a new way to look at these pachyderms and ourselves and a persuasive, passionate argument for rethinking our approach to animals and their conservation
Hannah Mumby is passionate about elephants, and it shows in her writing. This is perhaps more for the student than the general reader, but you will learn more about elephants and perhaps rethink how you view them.
An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed(Elderly Lady 2) by Helene Tursten and Marlaine Delargy (Translator.
Everyone’s favorite octogenarian killer is back in this new collection of stories by Swedish crime writer Helene Tursten that is sure to have you in stitches.
Eighty-eight-year-old Maud is never looking for trouble, but it always seems to find her. First, a woman in her building met an untimely end: tragic. Then, just recently, a dead body mysteriously appeared in her very own apartment, prompting an investigation by the local Gothenburg authorities. Such a strange coincidence. When it seems suspicion has fallen on her, little old lady that she is, Maud decides to skip town and splurges on a trip to South Africa for herself.
In these six interlocking stories, memories of unfortunate incidents from Maud’s past keep bubbling to the surface, each triggered by something in the present: an image, a word, even a taste. When she lands in Johannesburg at last, eager to move on from the bloody ordeal last summer, she finds certain problems seem to be following her. Luckily, Maud is no stranger to taking matters into her own hands . . . even if it means she has to get a little blood on them in the process.
Don’t let her age fool you. Maud may be nearly ninety, but this elderly lady still has a few tricks before she’s ready to call it quits-includes cookie recipe
Maud isn’t to be messed with. She’s cool, clever and quite ruthless. In real life, she’d be the neighbour from hell, but she is hilarious to read about. Credit to both the author and the translator
The Diana Chronicles by Tina Brown
The 20th Anniversary Edition of Tina Brown’s definitive behind-the-scenes insight into the life of Diana Princess of Wales with a brand new introduction by Andrew Marr.
Twenty years after her death, Princess Diana remains a mystery. Was she “the people’s princess,” who electrified the world with her beauty and humanitarian missions? Or was she a manipulative, media-savvy neurotic who nearly brought down the monarchy?
In this new 20th anniversary commemorative edition, which includes a new introduction by Andrew Marr, The Diana Chronicles parts the curtains on Diana’s troubled time in the mysterious world of the Windsors, as she breaks out of her royal cage into celebrity culture, where she found her own power and used it to devastating effect.
Knowing Diana personally, Tina Brown understands her world, understands its players and has-reaching insight into the royals and the Queen herself. Meet the formidable female cast and get to know the society they inhabit, as you never have before.
My Review.An interesting look at the complex person that was Diana, Princess of Wales. While the question is posed if Diana was a humanitarian and the ‘people’s princess’ or a manipulative and media-savvy neurotic who nearly brought down the monarchy, I don’t see those positions as being mutually exclusive. I think she could have been both. In fact, she was driven to become both or to disappear entirely. I was always a Diana fan, but it doesn’t mean I can’t see the darker side of her story. She wanted to be loved and thought she had found it with her marriage, only to find that the marriage had never stood a chance.
10 Step Drawing Cats by Justine Lecouffe
Learn to draw your favorite cats and kittens, step by step, with Ten Step Drawing: Cats.
The blank page can be daunting, but the fun and approachable books in the Ten-Step Drawing series offer a quick and easy starting point for any doodler, illustrator, or aspiring artist to be creative. Featuring illustrated tutorials for drawing a variety of different animals, flowers, plants, and people, each book in this appealing series breaks down each subject into 10 simple steps. And all you need is a pen or pencil and a piece of paper!
Handy prompts help you learn to draw by encouraging you to express creative individuality, while helpful general drawing tips enable you to try out your drawing skills on other subjects not featured in the book. The projects feature instructions for graphite pencil, ink, and colored pencil, for a well-rounded introduction to drawing.
Learn to draw more than 50 cat breeds, including:
And many more!
The perfect reference for your first steps as an aspiring artist, Ten Step Drawing: Cats is sure to give you the courage to break out a pencil and paper and draw to your heart’s content!
128 pages, Paperback Published December 14, 2021
My Review. Does an excellent job of simplifying drawing cats. I think that with practice most people could draw a convincing cat. I certainly have had fun trying.
The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson
A Good Morning America Buzz Pick
A Library Reads Pick
June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.
Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.
Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.
To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself,
June Jones is the stereotypical librarian, quiet and devoted to the library. Once she had dreams and ambitions. Since her mother’s death, time has virtually stood still for June. Her hopes and dreams are confined to books.
The threat to the local library rouses something in her, the urge to step up and defend the library. But she’s no one, and library staff have been forbidden to get involved.
This book about books and libraries is like catnip to a cat for me. What makes it depressingly relevant are the facts on which it is based. In The UK local councils are cost-cutting and local libraries are often one of the first things to go.
The Pug Who Bit Napoleon by Mimi Matthews Animal Tales of The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
From elaborate Victorian cat funerals to a Regency-era pony who took a ride in a hot air balloon, Mimi Matthews shares some of the quirkiest and most poignant animal tales of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Meet Fortune, the Pug who bit Napoleon on his wedding night, and Looty, the Pekingese sleeve dog who was presented to Queen Victoria after the 1860 sacking of the Summer Palace in Peking. The four-legged friends of Lord Byron, Emily Brontë, and Prince Albert also make an appearance, as do the treasured pets of Alexander Pope, Samuel Johnson, and Charles Dickens.
Less famous, but no less fascinating, are the animals that were the subject of historical lawsuits, scandals, and public curiosity. There’s Tuppy, the purloined pet donkey; Biddy, the regimental chicken; and Barnaby and Burgho, the bloodhounds hired to hunt Jack the Ripper. Wild animals also get a mention in tales that encompass everything from field mice and foxes to alligators and sharks lurking in the Thames.
Using research from eighteenth and nineteenth-century books, letters, journals, and newspapers, Mimi Matthews brings each animal’s unique history to vivid life. The details are sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, but the stories are never anything less than fascinating reading for animal lovers of all ages.
My Review. Some stories are humorous, while others are quite tragic. A positive is knowing that these conditions did lead to the formation of societies against cruelty to animals. Interesting to see who of the ‘great and the good’ shared a love of animals. Overall, it is easy and entertaining reading.
The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston.
Book Three of the Found Things SeriesThe third instalment of a bewitching series brimming with charm and charisma that will make fans of Outlander rejoice! (Woman’s World Magazine).
New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston’s second novel in the Found Things series, Secrets of the Chocolate House, was called a time-swapping romance [that] will please fans of Alice Hoffman (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with a third book, The Garden of Promises and Lies.
As the bustle of the winter holidays in the Little Shop of Found Things gives way to spring, Xanthe is left to reflect on the strange events of the past year. While she’s tried to keep her time-traveling talents a secret from those close to her, she is forced to take responsibility for having inadvertently transported the dangerous Benedict Fairfax to her own time. Xanthe comes to see that she must use her skills as a Spinner if she and Flora are ever to be safe, and turns to the Spinners book for help.
It is then that a beautiful antique wedding dress sings to her. Realizing the dress and her adversary are connected in some way, she answers the call. She finds herself in Bradford-on-Avon in 1815, as if she has stepped into a Jane Austen story.
Now in Xanthe’s time, Fairfax is threatening Xanthe into helping him with his evil doings, and demonstrates all too clearly how much damage he is capable of causing. With Fairfax growing ever more powerful, Xanthe enlists the help of her boyfriend Liam, taking him back in time with her. It is a decision that might just ensure she prevails over her foe, but only by putting her life–and his—on the line.
An exciting instalment with enough to keep me wanting to get the next book and finish the series. Fairfax is a worthy adversary and Xanthe is wrestling with problems of ethics and possibilities. If she pursues any action, does it have consequences beyond what she can see? Can she harm the innocent while working for good? She can discuss some things with Harley and with Mistress Flyte but longs to confide in her mother and Liam. When she finally does, then a whole new world of possibilities and problems emerges. It’s such a relief to know the next book is written and available. I can’t leave these characters in peril!
An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten translated by Marlaine Delargy. –
An elderly lady has accommodation problems
– An elderly lady on her travels
– An elderly lady seeks peace at Christmas time
– The antique dealer’s death
– An elderly lady is faced with a difficult dilemma
Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends,
and…no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.
Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.
Over the course of her adventures—or misadventures—this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?
An easy and entertaining read. Maud is anything but a harmless old lady. Although, at times she relies on that persona to conceal her misdeeds. So far, luck has been on her side, but will Maud eventually rely on luck once too often?
It is certainly an eclectic collection, some serious, others less so. I don’t necessarily stick to one genre or author and my selections are usually a combination of recommendations, research and whatever catches my eye. A good title can grab my attention, for example, the Elderly Lady books, those titles were impossible to ignore.