All Things Bright and Strange

In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be.

Author: James Markert
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 30th January 2018
Source: NetGalley
Rating:  ★★★★☆

Oh how I loved this book! It  gripped me right from the beginning, even though typically supernatural stories aren't my jam. It did take a bit of a menacing turn about three quarters through but that didn't ruin the charm, if anything, I couldn't wait to read the resolution and what was to become of the town, which was always so accepting no matter the race or religion until suddenly, it wasn't.

The story is told from the point of view of Ellsworth and I really liked him, he had a lot of depth and even though he could be abrasive he really wanted what was best for the town. There were plenty of other endearing characters too, from those who cook to keep their minds busy to those that spend the early morning creating bird houses in their garden shed. I liked how the stories all intermingled and even if something didn't appear clear at first, it was easy to trust that it would be in the end.

If you want a read full of colourful characters, small town southern charm and a heap of mystery then this might just be the book for you.

The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of "Downton Abbey," it's the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets -- some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It's also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

Title: The House at Riverton
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Pan
Publication Date: June 2007
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

As I mentioned last week, Kate Morton is one of my favourite authors and I was thrilled to find two books I hadn't yet read at the library. The House at Riverton was the debut novel for Morton and whilst I did give it slightly less star rating than the others I read, it was still very enjoyable. I loved the dynamics in the house between the upstairs and the downstairs, the bonds made and how ultimately those bonds became part of the problem. I also loved how the book moved between past and present, as is typical in Morton's novels, it was easy to follow and very engaging. I didn't wish I was in either one, just happy to follow along with the story as the secret was finally uncovered.

I guessed the secret but not the motivation and for me that was the stand out part. I otherwise would have found it a little too predictable. Overall, it was an enjoyable read and one I would recommend if you have a love for early 20th century historical fiction.

A Happy List

Michelle wrote about doing more of what makes her happy on her blog last week and it really struck me how often I don't do that. It's always so easy to make excuses, tiredness the most common for me, and to sit in front of the telly catching up on Peaky Blinders. So here's a little list of my happy things, with a commitment to doing more of it!

  • Listening to this hygge Spotify playlist.
  • Yoga in the evenings. 
  • The first cup of tea on a weekend morning.
  • Woodland walks with Rupert.
  • Lunch with friends after a long work week.
  • An early night with a good book.
  • Consistently saving some money each month.
  • Minimalism and the space it gives me to breathe. 
  • Illustration, usually digital, sometimes watercolour.
  • Being adventurous in the kitchen and cooking new things.

Today is Blue Monday, not something I was aware of until I turned the radio on this morning, but let's not get caught up in how the media thinks we should be feeling. I invite you to celebrate what brings you joy instead and if you would like to start a conversation, you can share either in the comments below or on twitter.