My Year in Books Part 1

I write books, I love writing books and the flip side to that is I love reading books.  So I thought I'd do a little post on the books I've read so far this year and what I thought of them;

1. The Stylist - Rosie Nixon 

Follow Amber Green as she is catapulted from her designer retail store job in to the world of celebrity stylists.  Hired to assist Mona Armstrong the top celebrity stylist through a jam packed awards season.  The ultimate dream job becomes more of a roller coaster drama with designer wardrobe.  

This book is at its heart a finding yourself story.  Not unhappy with her life but not truly satisfied Amber's luck is in when she makes a slight mistake which brings her to the attention of Hollywood's go to stylist, whose life on the outside is nothing short of amazing.  It's the ultimate look at a the greener grass and finding out all is not what it seems.   Amber grows as a person and becomes more confident in her ability and who she is.  She looks behind the curtain on glitz and glamour and finds all is never as it seems in the glossy pictures.  

This book is fun flashy fun, name dropping designers and style on every page it becomes a weird mix of having your life and living it aspiration-ally at the same time. 

2. Agatha Raisin and The Love from Hell  - MC Beaton 

The eleventh book in the Agatha Raisin series sees our worldly advertising executive now retired to her country cottage and now married to her love obsession James Lacey.  Marriage however is not what Agatha had in mind, still living in their respective cottages and accusing each other of infidelity.  Then James disappears leaving only a blood stain behind, suspected of foul play Agatha sets out to find her husband and clear her name, only she find his dead mistress first. 

Agatha is a lovable but spikes character, she's strong willed but not confident.  She is flawed but wonderfully colourful and amusing.  She's like a modern Miss Marple with a few bad habits.  

I'm slowly working my way through the full series, and often find myself wanting to shout at Agatha and tell her not to be so bloody minded or to doubt herself.   All in all these books are good fun, a definite cosy by the fire with a crumpet and cup of tea style read.  

3. Shadows of the Workhouse - Jennifer Worth 

I love Call the Midwife, it has me in tears every week.  I read the first of Jennifer Worth's books a few years ago and I've had this on my TBR pile for quite a while.    This is the follow up book and tells three stories which have been adapted in the show. 

The story of  Jane who works as a Nonnatus House as a sort of Auxiliary who grew up in the work house, the suspected abandoned daughter of a gentleman.  Her friends Peggy and Frank who lost their parents and where taken in to the work house.  With the arrival of Reverend Appleby-Thornton the Sisters play match maker and hope to give Jane a fairy tale to make up for the suffering she went through in childhood.  While Peggy and Frank who were separated in the workhouse system reunited and would never be parted again.  

Sister Monica Joan, the lovable eccentric nun is charged with shoplifting, but will the discovery of further jewels hidden in her room mean she's in danger of more than a warning from the courts. 

Jenny meets Mr Collett, who's story of love and loss is heart breaking and and the sociological aspect of the time while sadly heart breaking highlight the realities of life in the post war east end.  

This book is different to the initial Call the Midwife, I enjoyed it, laughed and cried in equal measure.  These are wonderfully stories of a bygone era while also still having links to how things are today. 

4. How to Find Love in a Bookshop - Veronica Henry 

Emilia returns to her childhood home in the Cotswold village, to rescue her Father's beloved bookshop after his passing.  She sets out to honour his memory and turn the bookshop from debt to profit.  All the while the book shop acts as a haven for those in the village who are looking for something more than the next great read.  

I struggled initially with this book, simply because of the subject matter in the first few chapters, having been in a similar position to the lead character it made it hard to read without having memories stirred up.  Once the story moved on I found myself getting into it a lot more.  There are characters I loved and those I wanted to give a slap to.  It's a great read to slip in to, and the multiple characters are given enough time to tell their stories without one taking the shine off the wother.  

5. Belgravia - Julian Fellowes 

I love Downton Abbey, I love the twisting tales of family l
ife above and below stairs in by gone eras.  So when Beligravia arrived in my Christmas stocking I couldn't wait to read it.  

Belgravia is the story of Secret, a secret that in the time of the book is enough to ruin a family.  Social climber businessman and his family attend the Duchess of Richmond's legendary ball on the eve of Waterloo changing their family forever.  

I love this type of book, it's a great winter evening read to loose yourself in a world that is familiar but out of reach.  The concerns and constraints of society mould the story and lead you by the hand through the lives of the families and their servants.  It's a simple tale but it will keep you enthralled.    

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