The South Westerlies is an attempt to know place (Gower) through the creation of a collection of short stories. Place is not a cosmetic backdrop, but an affecting agent in the lives of a wide cast of fictional characters. The collection is unified by the tone of the prevalent dank south-westerly wind that blows across the peninsula, the UK’s first designated area of outstanding natural beauty. However, the author chooses to let her gaze fall on the downsides of a much vaunted tourism destination and a place that is too beautiful, perhaps, for its own good. -from GoodReads
There’s this strange tone to these stories, like Jane fraser has captured that mournful gloomy feeling that hovers over the coast threatening rain, somehow capturing that atmosphere of a grey and overcast seascape. I can’t put my finger on it, it’s just an unsettling feeling, a wrongness about a character in the story. A woman whose husband tries to do everything for her but her moods. A man whose wife leaves and gets obsessed with wasps that die in his conservatory. These are compelling stories with vivid characters written with vivid detail. Although I haven’t been to the places in this book they are drawn enough for me to feel as though I’m there. One story tugs at feelings of nostalgia and I feel a little bit in sync with the story, others are sad stories about loss and longing. Snapshots into lives of farmers, wives of farmers and different people who live by the sea.
Stories like ‘On the Fourteenth Day’ capture the spirit of the sea and the myths it evokes. ‘Everything Around Here is Turning to Rust’- about a woman with an arrogant old fashioned husband, who seemed impressive and then she married him to be treated like a slave, the type of man who thinks a womans place is to cook etc and won’t do it for himself. This story had an ending that left me wondering. My favourite is ‘The Black Ribboned Hat’, it tugs at the heart and draws you in.
These are poetic stories, at first maybe I thought they were too sombre but they are so much more than that. I enjoyed this collection, I don’t think I’ve read anything else like it and I can see myself revisiting this again. Beautiful stories.
The first official Choose Your Own Adventure graphic novel!
From the hit Choose Your Own Adventure® novels comes a newly adapted graphic novel taking readers on their own visual adventure! Enter a ghoulish world of nightmares, witches, ghosts, and dreaded the eighth grade as Rabbit, the new kid on the block! As Rabbit, readers will get to choose which adventure–or nightmare–they’ll embark on. From learning about the mysterious witch Prudence Deadly, to trouncing through spooky graveyards, to meeting ghostly ancestors or channeling some witchcraft with classmates, no one path leads to the same destination.
Will you choose a path that leads to the light? Or will the path you choose lead to a gruesome end? You get to decide! – From Netgalley
I used to love choose your own adventure books as a child so I jumped at the chance to read and review one for Netgalley. This is a graphic novel so it’s a lot different to what I read in the past.We begin as Rabbit as she moves into her new house and have to decide the choices she makes. Does she follow that trail? Does she stop the evil?
I enjoyed this book, I liked the idea of it being a graphic novel. I read it a few times, trying to find all the endings and I still can’t stop myself from wanting to read more, try a different path. It’s an intriguing story, with a few threads to follow. Sometimes you might have an abrupt ending as is the case with the choose your own adventure books, other times you’ll go down a weird path. It’s a fun book and it’s got me hooked on these adventure books again.
Note: I did find some errors, the page I was sent to did not follow on the story, I’m guessing this is because it’s an uncorrected proof copy. But the format and the mistakes did let the book down, hopefully the mistakes will be corrected before it’s published.
Have you read the Choose Your Own Adventure books before?
I’ve reviewed two of Gail Aldwin’s novels here (The String Games and Paisley Shirt) in the past and I am delighted to have the opportunity to read This Much Huxley knows.
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
It was easy to like Huxley, he’s an intelligent boy in year two, and I became engrossed in his story. It was interesting to see things through a child’s eyes and see how they interpret the world differently from adults. Including when some adults in the story talk with prejudice and Huxley doesn’t understand.
The story becomes even more compelling with the introduction of Leonard, a new person living in the community who is disabled. He seems like a friendly person and very lonely, but the adults think differently to Huxley and are suspicious of Leonard. I didn’t know who to believe, is Leonard genuine or not? It’s hard to work out if prejudice against him is clouding this character or if there is something sinister going on. It’s all explained as the story progresses of course.
It’s really interesting to read a story in a child’s perspective, it’s not something I read often and I enjoyed it. I liked Huxley and his vivid imagination. I liked the way he played with words, turning them into a joke that the adults don’t understand e.g. reputation: rip-you-station. Disapproves: dizzy-proves. It’s a sweet and interesting book that makes you think and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to read and review this book.
You can find out more about Huxley by following the #ThisMuchHuxleyKnows on twitter. And more about Gail Aldwin on her website https://gailaldwin.com/
There was a time when I couldn’t go on holiday, or when I had a late one and I really craved a break. I’m not going on holiday this year and I’m reminded of those other years. And how I tried to find books to fill the void.
When I didn’t go on holiday in 2019 I found a reading challenge called 20 Books Of Summer and ended up reading books that transported me to other places, real or fantastical. And last year I continued the series I’d read the previous summer. This year I find myself wanting to read those same books, I’ve been looking back fondly to those summers and the books I enjoyed. When I didn’t have a holiday, reading those books made a huge difference. I was going to do the challenge this year but I am reading two tomes of novels and I don’t think I’ll finish them in time.
But it is a perfect time to look at the books I enjoyed. And to share the idea with others, if you want a book to give you a holiday feeling, a trip somewhere, be transported away, then maybe one of the books in this list will be the answer.
I have to start with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon since I’m currently reading the fifth book in the series. There’s nothing like the escapism of a different country and a different place. This book will take you to Scotland, telling you Claire’s story of travelling through sacred stones into historic Scotland. It’s an epic series, a wonderful story, historical with the thrill of fantasy and a dash of romance. Read it for escapism.
This book set in Wales is a beautiful read. I reviewed this here on my blog. The atmosphere of this book will transport you to Wales, maybe not a typical holiday read but it’s a poetic story with so much depth. A book tangled in myth and fantasy with an echo of ghosts. Perfect if you want something to stay with you, to make you feel and something a little bit dark. Read my full review here. (Also Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin is set in Wales and another good one). .https://bookwormjenblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/ghostbird-by-carol-lovekin/
This book is prefect if you need something to take you away. It’s Raynor Winn’s memoir of when she walked the South West Coastal Path. I loved this immersive story of wild camping on the coast, tales of various places along the coast line and the story of why she decided to do it. Definite escapism even with the sadness in her story.
I haven’t read this book, but I’ve read the two follow ups. If you love a mystery this is the book for you. Set in beautiful Cornwall with a dark edge this series has to be added to this list. The stories are riveting, the setting amazing and the characters interesting.
I can’t avoid mentioning the Poldark books. I started reading this historical series after watching the tv series. I love the way Winston Graham makes you feel like you’re right there by the sea in some of his scenes. If you love sagas, drama, history and Cornwall, this is your book.
Turning to a perfect, light hearted read, this is a lovely story of when Polly moves to beautiful Cornwall to start afresh and try to open up her own bakery. Heart warming indeed, romance, food and of course a beautiful setting.
Sometimes you just need to get back to nature and sit and enjoy. This is a book that will inspire you to do just that. It’s beautifully written and I’d recommend it to anyone for a good immersive read.
I know I’ve mentioned a lot of books set in Cornwall, I just can’t help it places stay with you after you visit. But here’s two set somewhere else worth listing here: Driving Over Lemon’s is about Chris Stewart moving to Aundalucia to a remote mountain farm. The place is gorgeous and the characters are interesting. My family and Other Animals, is a lovely read, set on Corfu, we join the Durrells as they start a new life, with colourful characters, family dramas and animals!
The Historian is my favourite book so it had to make this list. If you love vampires this is for you. A sweeping story that will take you on a trip through Europe as the character tries to find her father. A story within a story, as her father tried to find the answer to a mystery that begins when he discovers an old book with a only a map within the pages. I love this so much, I bought it from Tenby and every time I read it I’m reminded of the exact time and place I started reading it for the first time, on a bench overlooking the sea.
So that’s my list. There’s so many others I could add, fantasy books guaranteed escapism and those I’ve still yet to read. But I wanted to keep it as short as possible. If you’ve read any of these let me know in the comments, or if this list inspires you to read (tell me if you liked the book!) or find your own similar books do share.
What books do you love to read over the summer? Can you recommend any to add to this list?
I love a reading challenge. I’m not just talking about the yearly Goodreads challenge but the many other challenges online. I started doing them to widdle down my to be read list in the past, it feels like you accomplish something when you join a challenge and meet your target.
I took part in the Summer Reading Challenge last year and the year before, reading books from my tbr mainly. I’d often read books set in different countries or continue reading a series e.g. Poldark.
I had a plan to read 30 books from my tbr this year, honestly I’m not sure what’s going to happen with my challenges this year, the 20 books of summer challenge starts in June. I continued reading the Outlander books again. Their huge and I can’t stop reading them, I’ll happily sit and read them for hours! But it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m enjoying reading I’m not concerned.
I’ve been doing a 40 book challenge on a forum, again it’s a way to widdle down my tbr but I thought it might be fun to have an idea or suggestion of what to read next. Looks like I’ve read 8 so far. I had trouble copying and pasting with the right format on here, so I hope it’s readable. Not getting on with the new wordpress 😦 This list is what I’m planning to read/already read but it’s not set in stone. I might move a book to a different category or read something else. I’ve tried to add books from my tbr mostly.
. 1. America the Beautiful (a book set in USA) The Shambling Guide To New York City by Mur Lafferty 2. That’s a Wrap! (a book that became a film) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 3. Food, Glorious Food! (a book with food – or drink – in the title) Wild Strawberrries by Angela Thirkell 4. Flower of Scotland (a book set in Scotland) The Bookshop On The Shore by Jenny Colgan 5. Alien! (a book with a non-human character – could be an animal as well as an alien) Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke 6. In a word… (one-word title) Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer 7. Go East, Young Man! (book set in the Far East) ? 8. Green Book (not the film – a book with a green cover) ? 9. Water, water everywhere (a book with river, lake, sea etc in the title, or with one of these as its main setting) Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield 10. Ticket to Ride (a book about a journey) Clanlands by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish (read) 11. Lost in Translation (hopefully not! A book translated into English) Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke (read) 12. A book first published before you were born David Copperfield by Charles Dickens 13. A kernel of truth (a story based on real events or people) ? 14. A book set in the 1800s The Alienist by Caleb Carr 15. War and Peace (A book set between the two world wars) ? 16. It’s new to me (1)… (a book by an author you’ve not read before) Love after Love by Ingrid Persaud 17. It’s new to me (2) (a book in a genre you wouldn’t usually read) The Duke and I by Julia Quinn(read) 18. In the Beginning (a debut novel) Rivals of The Republic by Annelise Freisenbruch 19. She (a book with a woman’s name in the title) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab(read) 20. Fly Me to the Moon (a book about flying or space travel) The Wild Air by Rebecca Marcell 21. Dear diary (a biography, autobiography or memoir) (to be decided possibly The Fry Chronicles) 22. A non-fiction book Warriors and Kings by Martin Wall 23. The sound of music (a book with music/song etc in the title, or about music in some way) Drums Of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (read) 24. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (a book set at Christmas!) Mystery In White by Joseph Jefferson Farjeon 25. It’s a Mystery (a crime or mystery novel or non-fiction) Mindhunter by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker(read) 26. Here and Now (a book published in 2021) This Much Huxley Knows by Gail Aldwin(currently reading) 27. Short and sweet (a book with 250 pages or fewer) The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 28. It’s a Kind of Magic (a book with a magical element) Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso(read) 29. You’re Gonna Find Me Out In the Country (a book set in the countryside) Escape To The Country by Patsy Collins (to buy) 30. In Isolation (a book set somewhere very remote – eg the Arctic, up a mountain, in the desert etc) Dark Matter by Michelle Paver 31. Brand spanking new (a book you bought new) The Betrayals by Bridget Collins 32. All the Fun of the Fair (a book about a fair, carnival, freak show etc) ? 33. Working 9 to 5 (a book with a profession in the title, or about a specific job) Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth 34. Dial M for Murder (a book about a murder….!) The Widow by Fiona Barton(read) 35. Frozen (a book set in winter or somewhere very very cold!) ? 36. It’s Raining Men (a book with a man in the title) The Ferryman’s Daughter by Juliet Greenwood 37. Eyes of a Child (a book written from a child’s point of view) To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 38. What a gem! (a book with a gemstone in the title) ? 39. A hardback book Supernatural by Richard MacLean Smith 40. Books on books! (a book about books or about reading) ?
I know my friend is doing a read around the world challenge, sounds amazing. Are you doing any challenges?
After watching the Netflix series I wanted to read the book it was based on, I bought the book before I started the series as I was intrigued after recently starting to read true crime books. The series is a complete dramatisation of the book, the FBI agents in the series are fictitious so the book was completely different to the show. I really enjoyed the show and I’m hoping that they do another series.
Mindhunter, the book, is compelling and interesting. It starts with John Douglas detailing how he became a profiling for the FBI and how the Behavioural Science Unit came to be. It was very autobiographical to begin with and he continued to reinforce this idea that he’d always been a profiler of sorts since he was young, but I found his way of thinking a little strange.
The book got more interesting when he started to detail the history behind the FBI’s Behavioural Science Unit, reporting the investigations into various serial killers and how interviewing convicted serial killers helped them to examine their behaviours and develop a profile for this type of criminal. While reading the cases is disturbing it was interesting to read how they developed their methods of profiling and why. How their methods helped to change the way law enforcement could investigate crimes, understanding the killers’ behaviours which could then help build a profile and lead to an arrest.
In the most part this book was very informative and the style wasn’t dull like some non-fiction books can be. Once I started reading I’d quickly get intrigued and read a few chapters at a time.
However there were some aspects of the books that did affect my overall enjoyment. The book doesn’t seem to be written in a linear timeline, the cases are not discussed year by year, similar cases are grouped together, (correct me if I’m wrong). For the most part I think it followed a timeline but it wasn’t easy for me to follow or absorb the information. This is just the style of the book, it was still interesting but having a fixed timeline would help me to remember the historical facts. (Or it could just me). After reading a few cases the story did become repetitive, case introduced, how they investigated and then how it ended, but after taking a short break I came back to it with renewed enthusiasm.
I think if there was a little less autobiography and the cases written more historically I would’ve enjoyed this book a lot more. But I did like it and recommend it as an interesting book to read if you want to know more about serial killers and how their crimes were and have been investigated.
The first pages of this book drew me in completely. I loved the characters. Yannia is one of the Wild Folk but she’s left her home and gone her own way. She is a private investigator in Old London, a place where other magical people live. A man is found guilty of a crime but his daughter is determined that he didn’t commit it and asks Yannia to investigate. But the justice system is meant to be infallible, they know if a person is lying.
Everything about this book was interesting, the magical world, the characters, the atmosphere (such a good sense of place) and the compelling mystery. It’s a world I am looking forward to getting into again when I read the next book in the series. I always seem to say the same thing about fantasy books but this is a unique world and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.
If you’d like more information or to buy this book/ebook, I’d recommend going direct to the publisher https://www.louisewaltersbooks.co.uk/. I bought a signed copy and also had a free flash fiction by Laura Laakso. There’s some great books on this website, this was the third one I bought.
I loved the beginning of this book, the gothic atmosphere was just the thing to grab my attention and draw me into the world of Lockwood Manor. It’s an intriguing story with moments of exquisite eerieness. There’s a mystery that keeps me reading, the stuffed animals housed at Lockwood Manor start to go missing and I wonder is it something ghostly involved.
But sadly the mystery and the intrigue isn’t enough. The book never delivers on it’s promise. It starts to meander with glimpses into the past and more emphasis on the stuffed animals than I care to read about. The eerie moments dwindle and although conflict continues to keep the story moving I found the book got dull. It’s one of those books that offers a supernatural element but sadly never delivers it’s promise. And as a fan of the gothic, the supernatural, that is a disappointment.
This was technically my first audiobook so I’m not sure if my enjoyment of the book could’ve been affected by that. I didn’t like the way some of the male voices are acted, I wondered if maybe two narrators, male and female, would’ve been better. But maybe I’m not the best judge.
After listening to this book I wondered: why didn’t they just leave the stuffed animals in storage? If you’ve read this books share your thoughts.
So the summer is over, what a strange one. I’ve read 13/20 books one less than last year. I thought I’d read 14 but I’d written the same book down twice so I’m a little disappointed!
I started a new one a few days ago hoping to finish it in time to count it but I changed my mind. Reading shouldn’t be rushed, it should be enjoyed.
These are the books I read this summer:
I did start one book and not finish it, it was The Mabinogion, an edition edited by Lady Charlotte Lucas. It wasn’t written very well, quite dull and the original Welsh names were too anglised for my liking so I decided not to torture myself anymore. I might pick it back up, sometimes we’re not in the mood for a certain book or I might get a better edition.
I really enjoyed the books I read this year and I think I might reread Diary Of A Young Naturalist (review to come) and The Wild Silence.
Looking at the books I read last year there are some similarities, last year I read another Joanne Harris and the other book in the series by Katerine Stansfield and also a book about being a junior doctor ‘This Is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay. The majority of them were fantasy or set in Cornwall.
I’d hoped to read more but I did have a few weeks where I was too tired to read due to weather being very warm and this year I’ve been walking to work.
This month there is no plan except to try not to buy more books and read what I already have. 🙂 And to reread The All Souls books by Deborah Harkness as part of the annual real-time read, it’s my go-to comfort read and I can’t wait to start reading it again.
October is going to be a month for spooky/supernatural reads and maybe some festive reads later on the year. I have plenty of horror novels to read, not thinking too far ahead to decide on the festive books.
Have you read any of these books? What books have you enjoyed or hated? How did your summer challenge go?
I picked this book because I read The Magpie Tree which is the second book in this series last year. This book got my attention from the beginning, mainly because it’s set in Boscastle which is a place I love and miss visiting.
Cornwall, 1845. Shilly has always felt a connection to happenings that are not of this world, a talent that has proved invaluable when investigating dark deeds with master of disguise, Anna Drake. The women opened a detective agency with help from their newest member and investor, Mathilda, but six long months have passed without a single case to solve and tensions are growing.
It is almost a relief when a man is found dead along the Morwenstow coast and the agency is sought out to investigate. There are suspicions that wreckers plague the shores, luring ships to their ruin with false lights – though nothing has ever been proved. Yet with the local talk of sirens calling victims to the sea to meet their end, could something other-worldly be responsible for the man’s death?
The Mermaid’s Call is book three, you can read it as a stand along but you will always benefit from reading them in order.
I enjoyed this historical mystery, it was lovely to be back with Anna and Shilly again. Anna and Shilly have recently set up their detective business in Boscastle, they are approached with a strange case. A man has a dream that his brother has been killed, Shilly also has a strange dream and feels this pull of the siren. They go to Morwenstow to investigate.
I don’t want to give too much away. I like the characters of Anna and Shilly, they are still mysteries themselves, or at least Anna is. The Parson was also an intriguing character and I learnt at the end in the author’s note that he was a real person.
I love the dark, coastal atmosphere of this book. The mystery was interesting and there was a lot of reference to things from that era, the religion, the story of the wreckers.
Although I did enjoy this book, SPOILER? it didn’t really follow through with the supernatural element like the previous book did. Unless my expectations were too high?
However it was interesting and a lovely dark read and I am definitely going to read the next to find out what happens next for Shilly and Anna.