Sunday, 2 January 2011

Happy New Year!

I've been too busy to blog much over the past week, and I'm also very behind in reading my favourite blogs and commenting, so I must apologise for that. I will catch up eventually. In the meantime Happy New Year to all who pop in and read and or comment. I really do appreciate the friendships I've made via this bookblog of mine, not just that but the book recs and the opinions, whether they agree with mine or differ. All are welcome! I hope 2011 is a good year for you in every respect.

As always, I didn't have heaps of time to read over the Christmas holidays and I knew this would happen so I kept the books I did read fun and easy to read. I'll just talk about them briefly and that'll wrap up my books for 2010. First up, Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn.

It is the late 1920s and Daisy Dalrymple is a journalist. She is in fact a society girl from a wealthy background, but circumstances have forced her to earn her own living so she has taken a job with magazine. Her latest assignment is to write articles on the stately homes of England - which is how she comes to find herself at Wentworth Court just after Christmas. With snow on the ground and comfortable in the company of the great and the good, this should be an idyllic assignment. But one Lord Stephen Astwick is present at the house party and Daisy senses that all is not well. He seems to have a history with many of the other guests, some of whom seem to actually fear him. When his dead body is discovered, early one morning, on the frozen lake it's assumed he's had a fatal skating accident but Daisy's photos, taken of the crime scene, would seem to suggest otherwise. Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher arrives to investigate and Daisy finds it a pleasure, in more ways than one, to help him with his investigations.

This is the first book in a series that has now reached about eighteen in number I believe. I now own the first eight and I'm pleased about that as I enjoyed this one immensely. Daisy is intensely likeable as a main character, great fun but also with a strong streak of common sense and clear headed in an emergency. The plot itself is a typical country house mystery, along the lines of Agatha Christie, so you know exactly what you're getting, or hope to get, and the author doesn't disappoint. I didn't work out who'd done the deed, so finding out who and why was a surprise. All in all, a good start to the series and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Next, The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley.

Michael Vyner has recently lost his mother, his father having died a few years ago in Afghanistan (in the 1800s), saving the life of Sir Stephen Clarendon. Thus, he is now an orphan. Sir Stephen has offered to take him in and Michael goes to stay with him at Chrstmas to see whether they suit. The house is in the middle of a marsh in East Anglia. Travelling there and nearing the house, Michael sees the apparition of a woman and it is clearly connected to the house, Hawton Mere. Arriving, the boy finds his new guardian is almost insane and the rest of the household also very odd. The house, dark and lonely, is clearly harbouring secrets. How did Sir Stephen's wife die? And who is the ghostly woman Michael sees again and again? Michael knows somehow that it's his task to find the answer to these questions.

Yet another excellent book from Chris Priestley. His 'Tales of Terror' series of three is excellent and so is this stand alone novel which is very much in the vein of The Woman in Black by Susan Hill or Willkie Collins' books... but for young adults. The story is seriously creepy, very atmospheric and beautifully written. I don't know why Chris Priestley is not more well known as, in my opinion, he is a class act in the genre of YA horror.

And just to add to the illustrations for this post, something else I've been doing this Christmas:

I was an avid jigsaw puzzler as a child and the habit never left me, though I haven't done any in quite a few years now. Then I saw this one in charity shop and you know how certain things scream, 'Buy me!' the minute you set eyes on them? Well, that's what happened. So, I bought it and have had a lovely time doing it over the last week or two. So much so, that I went out and got two more charity shop buys:

Just exactly what I need... another addiction.

Happy New Year!



DesLily said...

thank gawd for addictions or all we would have is work! :o) love your puzzles!

Anonymous said...

I love the cover on that Daisy Dalrymple book. That series is one of my favorites. A couple of years ago, I went on a Daisy-a-thon and read about 8 or 10 of them back to back. It actually worked out OK, though reading so many by the same author one right after another often brings out hidden annoyances in the writing for me. Enjoy your Daisy's. such a great cover - might have to have it. LOL

Susan said...

a new mystery series - sounds like lots of fun to read - and jigsaw puzzles, which I too have been feeling a yearning to do. Lovely post, and even better to have you back, and be back myself, Cath. Happy New Year!

Have you seen Sherlock on tv? What did you think (the new one, penned by the man who wrote Dr Who)? I just got the dvd for Christmas and I love it. Talking about mysteries... :-)

Jeane said...

I totally understand your new addiction- I've always loved doing jigsaw puzzles and pick up new ones and secondhand shops all the time. It's a fun hobby especially in the cold months when I'm stuck indoors!

Anonymous said...

A happy new year to you too!

Good to hear a positive report on Death at Wentwater Court, because i picked up half a dozen books in that series in The Works a while ago, And I absolutely agree with you re Chris Priestley.

I have to avoid jigsaws though - I have just one more piece syndrome and I lose hours of my life!

Cath said...

Pat: You're so right, life would be tedious if we didn't have our interests and obsessions to cheer us up. Some people just don't anything and I wonder how they cope.

Kay: The covers are delightful, I agree... they were part of what attracted me in the first place. I've read three books by the same author in one go but don't think I would go for more than that. Although actually, I do remember years ago overdosing on Cadfael books...

Susan: it really is nice to have you back. I checked many times to see if you'd posted and I'd missed it (even though I follow you) and was becoming a bit concerned. I was sorry to read the reasons you've been absent.

Yes, we saw the new Sherlock series. I thought it was pretty good but have to confess to preferring a Victorian Sherlock Holmes. Just my preferance.

And just as you got those dvds, we got the first season of Fringe to watch. We'll have to compare notes.

Welcome back and Happy New Year.

Jeane: it's nice to meet another addicted puzzler. We should be neighbours and then we could swap.

FleurFisher: The Daisy books are pure escapism really. Perfect for if you just want a light undemanding read. It reminded me a little bit of Footsteps in the Dark by Georgette Heyer.

Oh, I too suffer from the dreaded 'just one more piece' syndrome. LOL.

fiction-books said...

Hi Kathy,

You beat me to it! I have a post sat in my dashboard, waiting to be posted, all about my love of jigsaw puzzles.

I have always loved them, even as a child, although I do them few and far between, these days.

As DesLily commented, I have plenty of other addictions, but they do have to be fitted in around work, unfortunately.

Have a good 2011.


Cath said...

Yvonne: Look forward to reading your jigsaw puzzle post! I just started the larger of the two new ones, 1500 pieces, the one with the two chairs. Got all the edge pieces in and found it's 2 pieces too big for my coffee table. I sense a trip to Homebase coming on for a sheet of plywood. Am feeling rather thwarted at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Such wonderful addictions to have, if one must have them. There are never enough books to fill my spaces, and never, it seems, enough time to read them all, but, I will try - and then a few of your suggestions.

First of, catching up, I loved hearing of your early interest in science fiction. Not normally my genre of choice, I am always willing to give something new a try. How wonderful that you had teachers who took an interest.

I would have probably bought the Dalrymple book just for the cover alone. I know, I'm a sad case, but, there you have it. It sounds to be an interesting read, however, and a satisfying series as well. Thank you for the review here.

Loved catching up on your posts today.

Cath said...

lifeonthecutoff: Yes, I think there are worse addictions to have than books and puzzles. I'm never short of something to do and I'm never bored.

I think back in those days that having a reader in the class was rare so English teachers cleaved those few to their bosums so to speak. ;-) It still is rare; my grandaughter tells me there are only 2 or 3 keen readers in her class, her being one of them.