Tuesday, 28 July 2015

2015: Books So Far (Warning - They're Mostly Cozy!)

Here we are more than half way through the year and I'm somewhat behind on my reading target for 2015. I put it down to the hours, and hours, and hours, that I spent completing a cross-stitch to enter into the Village Show which took place a couple of weekends ago. All those valuable hours that would have been given over to reading were spent going cross-eyed over the cross-stitch.

Still, looking on the bright side, at least I've read 11 books so far and have made a start on no.12. If I can get back in to the reading groove and make the most of our upcoming holiday, perhaps I can get back on track. I read 24 books in 2014 and I'd love to beat that figure for 2015, but that does mean really getting a reading wiggle on for the remainder of the year. In 2013 I read 27 books, could I possibly beat that total? Last year's numbers were down because of my eye operation which rendered me incapable of seeing the (quite large) TV let alone focusing on teeny tiny print in a book. And this year's numbers are down because of the cross-stitch; however, now that I'm no longer running the tea room (more on that another time), I do have a lot more time to myself so perhaps I can get back on it.

So, these are the books I've read so far, along with a VERY brief review for each one.

1) Styx and Stones - Carola Dunn. British cozy series featuring Daisy Dalrymple and set in the 1920s; I really enjoyed this, the seventh in the series, it was quite possibly my favourite so far, involving poison pen letters and a gruesome death by falling statue in graveyard scenario.

2) The Shop on Blossom Street - Debbie Macomber. The first in a series about a yarn shop and the women who own and frequent it. Very light, fairly predictable, but sometimes you just need a bit of fluff to read.

3) Rattle His Bones - Carola Dunn. Nearly went back-to-back on the Daisy Dalrymple series after enjoying Styx and Stones so much. This one was very enjoyable too, although more an 8/10 than a 9/10. I'd definitely recommend this series if you're looking for a UK-based, historical cozy series.

4) Agath Raisin: Something Borrowed, Someone Dead - MC Beaton. It's like a terrible addiction - you know it's bad for you, but you keep doing it. That's how I feel about the Agatha Raisin books; I loved them so much in the beginning, but now they're just awful and yet I still keep reading them. Go figure.

5) The Christie Curse - Victoria Abbott. First in a series about a lady who tracks down tomes for an avid book collector. I can barely remember anything about the story, which isn't exactly a glowing recommendation. I didn't dislike the book, but I probably won't rush out and get the next in the series.

6) The Shooting in the Shop - Simon Brett. Number 11 in the Fethering series. I love this series; a slightly darker modern-day English cozy. Actually, probably edging more towards murder mystery than cozy, but definitely on the light side. Perfect for an easy read.

7) A Killer Plot - Ellery Adams. First in the Books by the Bay series. Not sure I liked the main character very much, but I will give the next book a try because I already own it...

8) Murder on the Half Shelf - Lorna Barrett. Booktown Mystery number 6. Yet another series that I really enjoy; it seems I'm quite easy to please when it comes to cozy crime books. I'd recommend this series if you are a cozy fan and you haven't yet given it a try.

9) The Mummy Case - Elizabeth Peters. Third in the Amelia Peabody series. This series, set in the 1920s and 30s, follows the archaeological adventures and mishaps of Amelia Peabody, her husband and son, mostly in Egypt. I remember very much enjoying the first book in this series and then being rather disappointed by the second. This third book also finds me in the disappointed camp; the story was confusing and I'm not sure there was a plot. Will I bother with the fourth? Probably since lots of people do rave about this series so perhaps it will get better again.

10) Espresso Shot - Cleo Coyle. Coffeehouse Mystery number 7. Possibly my favourite cozy series: set in New York and based around a coffee shop - what's not to love? Another good read.

11) The Gallery of Vanished Husbands - Natasha Solomons. Moving away from the cozy crime and on to my 'non-cozy unread' bookcase, I decided to give this one a try. It's about a Jewish woman whose husband leaves her and her life thereafter as she becomes a successful art gallery owner. I didn't love it, it took quite a while to get through - like swimming through treacle - but at the same time I didn't dislike it, it was just *shrugs shoulders*, if you know what I mean.

 So, there we have it, my books so far for 2015. Very heavy on the cozy, but that's what I enjoy and what's the point of reading books you don't enjoy? Especially when you've got as many unread books to get through as I have!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Sunny Spain, May/June 2015

Changes have been afoot around these parts, changes in a good way though which hopefully mean I will now have lots more time to get back into the blogging swing of things. Although it is now the school holidays so time may not be on my side quite so much until September. Still, while the small boy watches TV (bad mother...), I can get a little back-blogging done.

During the Spring half term holiday we made our usual excursion to Spain - San Feliu de Guixols on the Costa Brava, to be precise. We are very fortunate that hubby's parents own an apartment there, so it's an easy and relatively cost-effective break. And we can fly from Bristol airport which is only an hour away, which is a definite bonus.

Happy to be heading to the sun!
We headed to the nearby beach at San Pol on our first full day; the sea is such a glorious colour along this coast.

And every evening we would head in to the town of San Feliu for an ice lolly.

 We made our annual trip to Girona. Such a beautiful old town to explore, especially walking along the old ramparts.

 For the last four years hubby and DS have stood on the same spot during this same week to have their photo taken. It's a great way to see how much DS has grown.

This is our favourite spot along the coast - the picturesque town of Calella de Palafrugell; glorious coastal views, a sweet little beach and a wonderful restaurant. We can easily while away several hours at a time here.

my coffee companion while the boys had a swim

We enjoyed it so much that we decided to come back the next day; this time I took my cross-stitch...

 All too soon it was time to head home; but we'll be back again next year!