Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Top 10 Books of 2016

I can hardly believe that another year is almost behind us. For me, it's a time of reflection on the joys and sorrows that 2016 has brought. It's also a time to reflect on my reading for the year and to try to whittle down the 64 books that I read this year to a mere ten - not an easy task as I read some exceptional books this year.

So, in no particular order, here are my top 10 (click on the book title to go straight to my review.)

Nemesis by Philip Roth - My first foray into reading Roth and he is certain to figure in my reading for 2017.

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths - This could have been any of the Ruth Galloway series which I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this year.

A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray - a debut novel who writes with insight and compassion.

The One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood - very different to anything else I have read this year and which I enjoyed enormously

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - this was my introduction to Kristin Hannah and a fantastic book.

The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer - A very touching and powerful read.

Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakmi - I love Murakami's writing and this did not disappoint.

This Secret We're Keeping by Rebecca Done - A novel concerning a taboo affair and very thought provoking.

After the Last Dance by Sarra Manning - A most enjoyable story of life in the London blitz with a slightly different take on other books set during WWII.

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi - I have really enjoyed reading the Greek Detective books this year and am anticipating reading more of them in 2017.

The Report by Jessica Francis Kane - A little publicised tragedy from WWII London.

Did you spot that there are 11 books? Sorry, but there was one I just could not leave out.

Thank you so much for following my blog throughout 2016. It means alot to me to know that you are sharing in my reading experience. Happy New Year and I wish you all peace and happiness in 2017.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

Heartbroken after being jilted, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession. But after perpetrating the cock-up of the century at work just weeks before Christmas, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needlecraft. But Hettie, the owner, is struggling to cope and now the shop is due for closure. But when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen.

This was the perfect seasonal read for me as it combined two of my main interests in life – reading and knitting. It is a wonderfully heart warming story with lovely characters and a beautiful setting.

Ms Brown creates a snowy winter in an English village so perfectly that it made me want to up sticks and move there (with bag of knitting in tow obviously) and demonstrates that the author is extremely skilled in describing her picturesque setting.

I was captivated by this story and sat and read the book more or less in one sitting as it was so engaging.  I was completely caught up in Sybil’s story and raced through this book.

On a personal note I completely identified with Sybil’s love of knitwear. I, too, tend to notice whether a person garment is wearing a hand knitted item almost before I notice anything else about them. I wonder if this is a trait common among knitters?

This book also contains the knitting pattern for Sybil’s Lovely Little Christmas Pudding which I suspect I will be trying out at some point.

I am also very excited that this is the first in a series of books to be set in the fictional village of Tinderdale and I am certainly intending to read the second book, The Great Village Show.  I do not read many books of this genre but this novel has whetted my appetite for more. Does anyone have any suggestions?

ISBN:  978 0007597363

Publisher:  Harper

About the Author:

Alexandra Brown began her writing career as the City Girl columnist for The London Paper  - a satirical diary account of her time working in the corporate world of London. Alex wrote the weekly column for two years before giving it up to concentrate on writing novels. The Great Christmas Knit Off is Alex’s fourth book and is the first of a new series set in the fictional village of Tindledale, following the lives of all the characters there.

Alex lives in a real village near the south coast of England, with her husband, daughter and a very shiny black Labrador.