Pile of comfort readingHello! I’m back! I’ve been ill: really, properly, horribly ill with a Proper Flu that has knocked me out for over two weeks, throwing all sorts of nasty symptoms at me in a random order, letting me think I was getting better then knocking me over again, and including one day when I was literally utterly bed-bound. Matthew has of course been a complete star, even though he’s had a slightly milder form of the flu himself, even trotting out to pick up my running club Tshirt the other evening. Public thank you to Matthew!

So, all I could read (when I COULD read – I don’t think I picked up a book, even, on Monday!) I have been mining my TBR for the easy stuff. This makes my current TBR a bit scary, but I have plenty on my Kindle and plenty of light books around the place, so I’m sure I’ll manage. Rather than devote a few reviews to these somewhat slight reads, I’m going to round them all up here and then get on with things – I do have some slightly more substantial books to review, which will be up next. So, here goes …

Debbie Macomber – “The Inn at Rose Harbor” / “Rose Harbor in Bloom”

(28 March 2015 from Macclesfield / 31 October 2013 via BookCrossing)

I’d had the second of these on the TBR for ages and finally picked up the first one so I could read them in order. Rose Harbor is a B&B run in Cedar Cove by Jo Marie, recently widowed and looking for a new project. Of course, Cedar Cove is the setting for Macomber’s previous long series, so this allows her to indulge her fans by weaving in some of the CC favourites as well as starting a new series with a new centre. Although romantic stories do ensue for the characters who are featured staying in the B&B, there is an emphasis on community and friendship in the books, too, which makes them the kind of DC book I will happily read (I’ve found I don’t like the only-romance ones). These are satisfying, warm and friendly novels, just the thing for the ailing reader.

Lisa Boyer – “That Dorky Homemade Look”

(21 January 2015 – birthday present from Gill)

While I haven’t started doing quilting yet, it’s something I’m interested in, and this is a sweet book about how it doesn’t matter if you use weird fabrics and don’t do things completely perfectly in the hobby, which is quite inspiring. It reads like a blog turned into a book, which works very well  here, and the author is obviously a competent quilter who wins prizes, but it’s got a very funny way to it and was a fun read.

Noel Streatfeild – “Tea by the Nursery Fire”

(12 January 2015 – present from Verity)

A lovely little volume in which the beloved children’s author reconstructs the life of her father’s nanny, Emily Huckwell, following her fortunes from a young nursery maid up the ranks, absorbing lessons from the lovely and not so lovely women she works with and for over the years. It’s quite simple, but a lovely read, and quite an emotional one, too. It gives a good background to “A Vicarage Childhood” which has a lot to say about her father’s disappointment that his children don’t have the same sort of childhood that he had and was a lovely, if quick, read.

Maeve Binchy – “Minding Frankie”

(20 September 2014 – charity shop)

I thought I’d read all of dear departed Maeve’s books but had never heard of this one before. It follows the fortunes of Baby Frankie, who doesn’t have the best start in life, her dad Noel, who doesn’t seem the most promising of fathers, and the community and families (including some from earlier books, which is lovely, but also heart-wrenching) and, as often happens, an outsider, in this case Noel’s cousin who moves over from America temporarily and acts as a catalyst for change and improvement. A lovely and absorbing book, although there is a big dose of melancholy in it.

Georgette Heyer – “The Unknown Ajax”

(28 March 2015 – Macclesfield)

Heyer’s books often start with either a young runaway or a family set-up awaiting the arrival of a stranger, and this is one of the latter. With several offspring departed, cross old Lord Darracott announces that  he has an heir no one has heard of before – and he’s coming to stay. He’s apparently from poor stock, and a soldier, and of course he puts the cat among the pigeons – he’s also supposed to marry Anthea, his cousin, to keep everything in the family, but she’s not keen on that, even though he turns out to be a real support and lovely bluff, Yorkshire chap of whom everyone becomes fond. A lovely, funny read.

Lauren Laverne – “Candy Pop: Candy and the Broken Biscuits”

(28 March 2015 – Macclesfield)

Yes, her out of Kenickie and off BBC 6 Music did a YA book, and I really rather enjoyed it. Your classic single-parent kid in a small seaside town, trying to start a band and obsessed with the brooding chap who runs the only record store in town, but enlivened by a bit of cheeky rock-star magic. There is some drinking and ensuing mess in the book so not for the absolute depths of illness, but it was a cheery and jolly read, with a range of characters and some good set pieces – especially those around starting a band and the first gig. This was meant to be part of a trilogy, but I can’t see that the other books ever came out, which is a shame, as it wasn’t bad at all and an entertaining read.

There we go: comfort reading extraordinaire. I also fitted in finishing a book on the children of rock stars and one on Harry Selfridge, as well as starting the most detailed book about Dolly Parton EVER; more on them later.