Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Summer reads

Do you remember the picture of the White Rabbit I posted a few weeks ago? Well I am still in the same place worrying that I am late for a very important date.
That would be because we are at the end of June and I haven't posted my Summer reads collection until today the 30th June.

As always I have moved a selection of books from my bookshelf that will become my summer reads 2015. There may be some additions to this line up depending on how quickly I get through those now sitting by my bedside. I am way behind posting about the books I have chosen to read through the Summer months. In fact as you will see below there are links to all the books I have read and posted about throughout June and here we are already fast approaching July. 


And of course there are those that are patiently waiting their turn on my Kindle (currently 23).
I still can't decide which I prefer, the convenience of a Kindle especially when travelling or the feel of a paperback in my hands. I think I will always flit between the two. 

So in June I  returned to my favourite childhood read Follyfoot by Monica Dickens. Monica Dickens is the great granddaughter of Charles Dickens. She kept horses herself and loved riding. Her Follyfoot series of books was made into a TV series in the 70's and I loved watching with my elder sister who was and is still completely mad on horses. My first choice from the bookshelf was  One Summer by David Baldaci. Quite a departure from his usual novels.   I usually steer clear of TV presenter turned novelist type books, but having listened to Judy Finnigan on the Graham Norton Saturday morning radio show a while ago describing the idea for Eloise I decided to give it ago.   My next Kindle pick was Elizabeth is Missing, the debut novel by Emma Healey.  There have been a few reviews for this one across blog land, in fact it is Laura's choice who hosts The Year in Books Project's June choice so it will be interesting to see what we both thought of it. Moving on it's back to the paperbacks with Laline Paull's The Bees . This one was recommended to me by a colleague and her description of it was a Watership Down for adults.

This month I felt as though I had lost my mojo with my reading. I didn't seem to really pick any that had me gripped to the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen next.  I did enjoy Follyfoot but then who doesn't like returning to their childhood every now and then. Out of the five books I have read this month I think the best one has been

and therefore will be my book of the month for June.

Now if you haven't already don't forget to enter my anniversary giveaway details of which you can find here.

Happy reading one & all and I will endeavour to better at taking part in Laura's
The Year in Books Project in July.


Monday, 29 June 2015

The Bees - Laline Paull

Accept. Obey. Serve.

Flora 717 us a survivor. Born into the lowest class of the totalitarian hive society she is prepared to sacrifice everything for the Queen, surviving internal massacres, religious purges and terrifying invasions by vicious wasps. With each act of bravery her staus grows, revealing both the enemies within and the sinister secrets that rule the hive. But when her instinct to serve is overwhelmed by a fierce and deeply forbidden maternal love, she breaks the most sacred law of all.....


I love seeing bees in my garden and at this time of the year they are everywhere.

There is nothing better than wondering into my garden and seeing them busy at their work.

The Bees was recommended to me by a colleague quite a while ago and she described it as Watership Down for adults and I think that was a very apt analogy.

The Bees as you have probably guessed already is set within a bee hive and follows the life journey of Flora 717 whose place within the hive is as a sanitation worker as depicted by her birth but,  Flora 717 is no ordinary bee and her journey through her life cycle is to cause her great danger as she breaks the most sacred rule 'only the Queen may breed' but when the hive is threatened it will be Flora 717 whose bravery will be put to the test to save them.


I did enjoy reading this one.  I'd had a bit of a slump this last month. I wasn't getting my usual enjoyment out of the books I had chosen to read. That has thankfully been restored and I would recommend you read The Bees but remember you have to put yourself into their world.

Moving on I have picked

I had to pick this one for it's title alone. It has been patiently waiting it's turn on my Kindle and having read the first chapter I know I made the right choice.

Happy reading one & all



Don't forget if you have done so already to take part in my anniversary giveaway here I will be picking the winner on

Sunday 12th July.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Anniversary giveaway

Yes it is that time of the year again.

Image result for 2nd anniversary

Now some of you stick with my Lazy days and Sundays at Willow Cottage blog and some stick with my Tea & Biscuits & a Good Book blog and some of you follow both.
What ever your preference it's all amazing and I am very grateful to all who take a bit of time out your busy lives to come and see what I have been up to. 

I have spent the last few weeks thinking about  what my give-a-ways should be this year and I think I have come up with the right choice. 

I was first introduced to Tea Pigs by Kate at Just Pootling when I won her give-a-way last year and I have been enjoying them ever since. And if I am making tea as part of my give-a-way I thought I needed to include a nice cup & saucer from which to drink it.  I love shortbread and quite often enjoy a piece or two whilst reading my latest book. As we all have differing tastes in what we like to read I decided to go for one of my favourite bookmarks rather than a book. You quite often see my sheep Book Tail in my posts.

So there we are Tea & Biscuits & a Good Book(mark)

my second give-a-way is themed around the lovely bumbles who visit our gardens.

Included in this give-a-way are

These gorgeous scissors and yes they do have little bumble bees on them.  I have at least three sets of these around including this set.  They are great for crafting, household and for snipping at things in the garden.

Gardening gloves which have my two favourite things from the garden Sunflowers and yes more bumbles.

A Bee Happy mug for that well deserved cuppa as reward for all your hard work and an absolute essential for after an afternoon weeding and dead heading 
and lastly 
 a little pamper kit from Burt's Bees to prevent chapped lips and hands.

So what do you have to do to enter my give-a-way?  Whether you  are a reader or a gardener or both just leave me a comment stating your preference or whether you would like a chance at both.
To give everyone a chance I will pick the winners on

Sunday 12th July

And remember it doesn't matter whether you are a regular commenting visitor or someone who pops by in passing if you would like to be included don't be shy  just leave a comment.

Happy Sunday one & all


Saturday, 20 June 2015

Elizabeth is Missing - Emma Healey

Meet Maud...

Maud is forgetful. She makes a cup of tea and doesn't remember to drink it. She goes to the shop and forgets why she went. Sometimes her home is unrecognizable - or her daughter Helen seems a total stranger.

But there's one thing Maud is sure of: her friend Elizabeth is missing. The note in her pocket tells her so. And no matter who tells her to stop going on about it, to leave it alone, to shut up, Maud will get to the bottom of it.

Because somewhere in Maud's damaged mind lies the answer to an unsolved seventy-year-old mystery. One everyone has forgotten about.

Everyone except Maud.....


Elizabeth is Missing is Emma Healey's debut novel about an elderly lady, Maud Horsham, who is convinced that her friend Elizabeth is missing.  She has been round to her house, left notes through the door and still there has been no word from Elizabeth.  As Maud seems to have dementia, although that never seems to be confirmed in the book, nobody believes her but Maud is convinced that this is the case she has a note in her pocket that tells her so.  In amongst all the confusion in Maud's life one fact remains that when she was a young girl her beloved sister Sukey (real name Susan) did go missing never to be found and in trying to solve the mystery around the disappearance of Elizabeth a seventy year old mystery is about to be solved.


I think I must be losing my mojo at the moment. Possibly because life in general is a bit like that hamster on a wheel.  Elizabeth is Missing was definitely a very good novel especially as a debut novel but, I sort of lost the thread of it along the way and then all of a sudden you arrive at the last few chapters and all becomes clearer. Now that could have been the writers intention but for some they may have given up before they got to that point.  There seems to be a lot of us picking this one to read at the moment so it will be interesting to see what everyone else thinks,

Meanwhile I have started my next book, another popular choice around blog land. A colleague of mine told me about Laline Paull's The Bees a while ago but I just hadn't got around to reading it.
As I still wake up at stupid O'Clock on a Saturday morning and then can't get back to sleep I tend to get up and make a cuppa and read, which is exactly what I have done this morning and I am already at Chapter Six and so far I am really enjoying it so who knows may be this is the one to get the mojo back.

Happy reading one & all


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Eloise - Judy Finnigan

She was a daughter, a wife, a mother.
She was my friend.
But what secrets did Eloise take to her grave?

After her best friend Eloise dies from breast cancer, Cathy is devastated. But then she begins to have disturbing dreams that suggest Eloise's death was not all it seems.

With Cathy's history of depression, her husband Chris, a psychiatrist , is acutely aware of her mental fragility. 
When Cathy tells Chris of her suspicions about Eloise's death, as well as her ability to sense Eloise's spirit, Chris thinks she is losing her grip on reality once again.

Stung by her husband's skepticism, Cathy decides to explore Eloise's mysterious past, putting herself in danger as she finds herself drawn ever deeper into her friend's great- and tragic-secret.


I am usually a little skeptical my self when it comes to reading novels that have been written by TV Presenters turned Authors.  I had listened to an interview with Judy Finnigan, on the Graham Norton Radio two show, she was actually there to promote her new book I do not Sleep, the storyline of which sounded really good.  Whilst running my errands on that same day I decided to pop into Waterstone and see if they had a copy.  I was a little early as it wasn't for release until the following week, but they did have a copy of her first novel Eloise so I decided to get a copy.  I'm afraid as per usual it has sat on the bookshelf for a while but I finally got around to it this week.

So what did I think of Ms Finnigan's debut novel?

On the hole I thought it was very well written and a good read.  I wasn't sure whether it was supposed to be a love story, a mystery or a thriller or perhaps all three and maybe it would of been better to keep it to one theme. I'm not sure the haunting by her deceased friend was truly believable.  I know sometimes when I've had a near miss in the car I'll tell my kids that was my mum or a close friend keeping an eye on me from up above but,  I'm not sure how many people would believe you could be haunted by a dead friend in your dreams.

So overall a good read, not necessarily one I would recommend as a page turner but it hasn't put me off reading her second novel which I have downloaded to my Kindle.


My next read is from my Kindle and I have picked Emma Healey's  Elizabeth is Missing 

I started this one last night, hence the hot chocolate, and so far I am up to chapter 3 and enjoying it.

Happy Reading One & All.

Don't forget to have a look at Laura's Year in Books Project to see what bloggers are reading. You'll find some great recommendations.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Kadian Journal - Thomas Harding

In July 2012 Thomas Harding's fourteen-year-old son Kadian was killed in a bicycle accident. Shortly afterwards Thomas began to write. This book is the result.

Beginning on the day of Kidian's death, and continuing to the one-year anniversary and beyond, Kadian Journal is at once a record of grief, a moving tribute to a lost son, and a celebration of a life lived to its fullest. 


Of this book Stephen Fry wrote

The malicious and random brutality of fate and the racking pain of loss have met their match in Thomas Harding who miraculously turns those horrors into something memorably great.


I can't imagine how any parent feels when they are told that their child has a life limiting illness and the grieving following their death.  Kadian wasn't ill he was full of life just starting that journey from adolescent to becoming the man he was destined to be when fate changed his family forever. 
Thomas Harding's book is full of emotion from tears to laughter and life without his son and the impact on the family. 
Written with raw emotion and as soon as I saw it sitting on the bookshelf I knew I had to have it and that it would have to be the next book I read. 


Following on my next read is to be Judy Finnigan's Eloise. 
I usually steer clear of novels written by TV Presenters. Not because I don't think they can write but that's not the capacity I normally see them in. Having heard Judy Finnigan taking part in an interview with Graham Norton on his Saturday morning radio show a little while ago,  where she described her the thought process behind her writing style, I suddenly got the notion that may be I should be looking at her novels more objectively. 
I have both her novels Eloise and I do not sleep but I am starting with Eloise.

Happy Reading one & all


Friday, 5 June 2015

One Summer - David Baldacci


When thirty-four year old war veteran Jack Armstrong is told he has only weeks to live, his first concern is for his beloved wife Lizzie, and their children: baby Jackie, twelve-year-old and would be actor Cory and rebellious teenage daughter, Mikki. It seems so cruel that an apparently fatal illness should claim him, a survivor of Afghanistan and Iraq, when he still has so much left to live for. 

On Christmas Eve, as Jack prepares to say goodbye to his family, unthinkable tragedy strikes again and Lizzie is killed in a car accident. Just when Jack thought living was far harder than dying, and the children's future looked so bleak, something remarkable happens which gives Jack the valuable second chance he'd only dreamed of.

Unexpectedly, the family inherits Lizzie's beautiful childhood home on the ocean front in South Carolina. During one unforgettable summer, Jack and the children struggle to re-build their lives. They learn to live again - and to love again. And they learn the biggest lesson of all  - the importance of family.


David Baldaci's One Summer was another one of my charity bookshelf finds in Tesco's. 
By all accounts this is not the usual type of novel that David Baldaci is known for,
In One Summer you find a family struggling to come to terms with the loss of their wife and mother. Jack Armstrong had was a military man and for a large proportion of his marriage to Lizzie he had been away, leaving her to raise their three children.  Jack becomes ill and at the beginning of the novel it is he who is coming close to the end of his life when his wife is killed in a car accident. By some miracle Jack starts to regain his strength and finds he has a second chance with his children. 
Lizzie had grown up in a house by the ocean that she called The Palace. When Lizzie's grandmother dies she leaves the house to Jack and his family. Jack decides to take the children to The Palace for the summer just as his wife had planned before her death giving them the chance to come to terms with their loss.


I had only read the first chapter when the Kleenex were required.  It was a gentle read and I was a little worried that it was going to loose it's way in the middle but then there is a twist at the end that you don't necessarily see coming and and you don't want to put it down because you need to know what is going to happen.

Moving onto my next read

I'm afraid this is a queue jumper. I saw this book in the supermarket and when I read just the front cover that was it I knew I had to have it and that it was going to have to be my next May read.
If I thought I needed the Kleenex before I certainly know I am going to need them now.

Happy reading one & all


500 Words

Here in the UK we have a very cheeky chappy called Chris Evans. He is best known for his BBC Radio 2 breakfast show and his appearances on BBC 1's 
The One Show. 
In 2010 helped to launch a competition for children aged from 5-13 years called  500 Words. 
500 Words invites children under 13 years to write and submit a story.
 These stories are judged in two categories 5-9 years and 10-13 years. 
I believe they had over 4000 entries this year. Each story was read by a team of teachers and librarians and from the 4000 entries the top 50 stories were picked. 
These top 50 authors are then invited to the final which is broadcast live on
 Radio 2. 
In the past they have taken place as part of the Hay Festival but this year they had a very special invitation when they were invited by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall to St. Jame's Palace.  The final took place last Friday 29th May and the top three stories in each of the two categories were awarded a medal. 

If you didn't get to hear any of the final or you had not heard of this competition before I urge you to go to the website here and see the winners. You won't be disappointed and for a couple you will need to have your tissue at the ready. 
It is such an inspiration that we have such talented young people and if they are writing this type of story now what are they going to be able to produce in the future.

I am so behind with joining in with Laura's The year In Books Project this month and have already read two books and onto my third but I will try and rectify this over the weekend. 
I feel like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date.

Image result for alice in wonderland white rabbit


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Follyfoot - Monica Dickens

I am sure many of you who are into your golden years will remember the TV series called 


The series was based on the novels written by Monica Dickens. 

Monica Dickens was a great granddaughter of Charles Dickens who took to writing children's books in the 1970's. 

She kept horses and loved to ride herself. 

Her Follyfoot series of books followed the mysteries and adventures surrounding Follyfoot farm which is a retirement home for old and unwanted horses. 

It was owned and run by the Colonel helped by his step daughter Callie and stable hands Dora and Steve. 


In this the first book Callie is having trouble with two brothers at school Louis and Todd Hammond or as she refers to them Louse and Toad.  Their parents run a local hotel and offer riding lessons as part of the experience of staying at Pinecrest. Unfortunately the manor in which they keep and treat their horses is not up to the standard of the colonel and when he receives word that they are mistreating a mare the team at Follyfoot decide they have to do something about it.  Meanwhile there are reports to the police a horse getting out of his paddock and getting onto a neighbouring farmers land. Now horses are intelligent animals but not many work out to unlock a padlock on a gate. Steve decides to investigate and catches the perpetrator in the act. 


I love these stories as much  now as I did when I was 11 years old (and that's a long time ago). At that time anyone who had a passion for horses would have Monica Dickens books on their bookshelves. 

Moving on my next book is from my bookshelf rather than my kindle 

This was another find from the charity table in my local Tesco. 
Having read the first chapter I feel that a large box of Kleenex and a large supply of chocolate may be necessary. 

Happy reading one & all