Christmas 2017

BDEC121B-4582-4D92-8CA7-45775AFC9B8B2017 has been a strange year, and possibly one I’d like to lock away. Having said that we did make some wonderful memories and those will stay with me forever.

Christmas 2017 was most enjoyable. Filled with family, laughter, food and films. We watched Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, A Christmas Carol from 1951, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Charles Dickens, Holiday Inn and Holiday Affair. We also watched Morecombe & Wise. The old ones really are the best.

My Christmas reads didn’t turn out too well, but there’s always next year.

As always I am very grateful for the presents I received, my parents and brother always spoil me. The most important thing about Christmas is family, everything else is a bonus.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas.


Simple Matters – Erin Boyle

imageAfter seeing Simple Matters by Erin Boyle on several Instagram feeds, I decided to purchase it and see what all the fuss was about.

The book covers everything from Making a Home, Decluttering, Simplifying, Organizing, Decorating, Bath & Beauty, Getting Dressed, Cooking & Entertaining, and Thriving. The main focus throughout the book is purchasing quality over quantity and only buying what you need and will use. With this method, you don’t end up with things you don’t use or need. There will be less impulsive purchases and regrets. Less really is more as simplifying your belongings you will appreciate what is left even more.

I really enjoyed this book and would rate it 4/5. I would go as far to say it’s better than Marie Kondo’s method of tidying. It’s a book that you’ll go back to for certain things or to refresh the memory on key areas.

A Fine Romance by Susan Branch

imageAt the weekend I finished reading ‘A Fine Romance’ by Susan Branch. A book about her voyage to England on the Queen Mary 2. The book starts off with the transatlantic crossing from New York, here she shares her experiences of life aboard the ship. A Fine Romance follows their journey throughout England, visiting places like the Cotswolds, Yorkshire and The Lakes. She also takes us to the homes of Jane Austen and Beatrix Potter.

The book travels back in time touching on when Joe and Susan met, and mentions how their relationship blossomed. The voyage to England starts on the remarkable ship ‘The Queen Mary 2’ embarking from New York. They will be spending two months in England travelling around various parts of the UK, where they will be visiting friends and national trust properties along the way. The book features beautiful illustrations and photographs of their travels. And this book wouldn’t be complete without the recipes!

It was an easy read which I couldn’t put down (I finished reading this within a week), it quickly became my bedtime reading. I was saddened when I turned the last page and the trip was over. So much so, I’ve just ordered Martha’s Vineyard and The Fairy Tale Girl. I plan on purchasing a couple of Susan Branch books each month as a treat to myself.

This would be the perfect read for anyone who loves the English countryside and historic properties belonging to the National Trust.

Have you read any books by Susan Branch? What was your favourite?

Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Daphne du Maurier – Rebecca

imageI decided to start off my 2017 reading list with Rebecca, after numerous recommendations from my IG friends. This is my first du Maurier book I’ve read and it didn’t disappoint.

Although the first few chapters were slow, I am pleased I persevered with the book. It just took me a while to get fully absorbed into the story. For a female writer, Daphne du Maurier’s writing style is dark. Rebecca has many twists and turns which keeps the reader wanting to turn the page to find out what’s going to happen next. This was evident at the latter stage of the book.

After reading Rebecca, I am looking forward to reading more of Daphne du Maurier. Initially I would have given the book 4/5 but after completing the book and thinking about the writing style, characters and how gripping it was I would now rate it 5/5.

Rebecca has quite a few characters all of whom were believable. The most memorable character for me was Mrs Danver’s.

Reading Goals for 2017

My reading goals for 2017 are

1) To read one book a month and write a review for that book on my blog
2) To not feel guilty if I don’t pick a book up everyday
3) To fully immerse myself in the story
4) To limit the number of books I purchase in 2017 to 10, this doesn’t include gifts or a pack of books (The Bookpeople offers).
5) To only stick to bookstores – Waterstones, Book Depoistory and The Bookpeople to avoid impulse purchases from supermarkets.
6) To read six Christmas themed books starting from the last week of November until the end of December (this is not included in my one book a month challenge)

The books I’d like to read in 2017 are as follows

1) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (followed by the film)
2) The Inspector and Mrs Jeffries by Emily Brightwell
3) High Rising by Angela Thirkell
4) The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Annim
5) The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
6) My Story by Jo Malone
7) The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith
8) Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (followed by the BBC adaptation)
9) The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
10) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (followed by the BBC adaptation)
11) A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor
12) Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear


I would also like to read in 2017
• Wait for me by Deborah Devonshire
• The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard
• Elizabeth Fry by Dennis Bardens
• A Fine Romance by Susan Branch

I have also decided to only keep the books I would re-read again. The books that I’ve read but didn’t love will be donated to my library or charity. What are your reading goals for 2017?

A Book Summary of 2016

I read the grand total of 18 books during 2016, 5 of those were read in December. The books I read were

• Spark a Joy by Marie Kondo 4/5
• Cleaning Hints and Tips by Cindy Harris 2/5
• Dying in the Wool by Frances Brady 3/5
• Period Piece by Gwen Raverat 4/5
• My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster 4/5
• Vintage Chic by Christina Strutt 4/5
• Mary Poppins by P L Travers 5/5
• The Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde 2/5
•The Double Clue by Agatha Christie 5/5
• The Art of Hygge by Jonny Jackson & Elias Larsen 4/5
• The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking 5/5
• The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham 5/5 re-read
• Christmas from the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch 3/5
• An Edwardian Christmas by John S Goodall 4/5
• Miss Read’s Christmas Book – illustrated by Tracey Williamson 5/5
• The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L Frank Baum 4/5
• A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas 4/5 (read on Christmas Day afternoon)
• The Adventures of The Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie 5/5

* I was planning on reading more, unfortunately there just weren’t enough hours in the day. I’m disappointed that I didn’t read everything on my list in 2016, which were 37 books.

For Christmas 2016 the books I received from family were

• A child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
• Tommy & Tuppence complete series by Agatha Christie
• Miss Marple & Mystery – complete short stories by Agatha Christie

Did you manage to read all of the books on your to be read pile during 2016? What was your favourite read/author discovery of 2016?