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Written and Read 1/12

Writing Goals

  • 'The Mermaid' scheduled for publication on 4th Feb

  • Basic plot of Avonstow 3 created

  • Final edits done on first independent Castle Priory Press book

  • Blogs mostly scheduled for the rest of the year

  • Edits for 'The Quest of the Summer King' are underway

Reading Goals

  • 6/30 library books read

  • 3/3 kindle books read

  • 2/15 bookshelf books read

  • 0/3 books to buy read

This month has been a ridiculously busy one. I spent the first two weeks working very late to get the final edits done on The Mermaid so it would be ready in time for the book launch and writing and scheduling as many blog posts as I could, so that my blog is updated more regularly this year. The latter half of the month was spent editing and formatting someone else's work, researching for Avonstow Book 3, editing Summer King and getting everything ready for the Brightlingsea Literary Festival. I'm responsible for creating all the social media for the festival and so I've been busy creating adverts for all the events. As we have more events than ever this year, it's kept me out of mischief! I've also been booked for a school visit for World Book Day and for the first time, it's a school I have no connection with, which is utterly thrilling, if a little scary!

Consequently, as the writing side of life has been so hectic, the reading side has suffered a bit. However, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take on a couple of extra reviews because I knew the books were going to be so fantastic! Until I started doing the research for Avonstow Book 3, which naturally involved a whole day in Colchester library's reference section and multiple hours in Brightlingsea library's, I felt as though my reading had stagnated. However, reading for a purpose put some spark back into things and I motored through the next few books for pleasure as well.



Lullaby – Leila Slimani (Discovered this through Between The Covers. It’s the story of a nanny who murders the two children in her care. Inspired by a true story, this was an interesting character study in what makes a seemingly loving carer suddenly snap. It also proves that nothing and no one is ever quite what they seem.)

The Perfect Golden Circle – Benjamin Myers (A very gentle read about two friends who spend their summer creating increasingly elaborate crop circles. There are some lovely little moments, but essentially it’s about the connection between the friends and how two damaged souls find solace in each other.)

Fair Rosaline – Natasha Solomons (I’ve always had an issue with Romeo and Juliet being described as a love story – to me, it’s two hormonal and overly-dramatic teenagers and I have little patience for them. Frankly, I always thought Rosaline had a lucky escape. However, this is far darker in tone and in many ways felt like a very modern novel. It completely stands on its own and I’m not sure I will ever view Romeo in quite the same way again – this felt very much more true to life than Shakespeare’s version.)

The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien (I’d been really looking forward to reading this one because it is held up as a feminist novel that changed the face of Irish literature. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get on with it, so didn’t bother with the rest of the trilogy.)

Old God’s Time – Sebastian Barry (Audiobook. Heartbreaking book, beautifully written but very hard hitting. Old sins cast long shadows and sometimes people cannot find their way out from those shadows.)


To Die But Once – Jacqueline Winspear (My latest read in the Maisie Dobbs series. This time, Maisie is back on familiar territory with her own detective agency, rather than working for the Secret Service. However, she finds herself a little hampered by the fact she has one eye on the future and her responsibilities for the orphaned refugee she has taken into her home.)

A Death In Diamonds – SJ Bennett (4th in Her Majesty Investigates series. This one goes back to the early years of the Queen’s reign and is different in some ways, but still a thoroughly entertaining read. Full review can be found here.)

The Detective’s Daughter – Lesley Thomson (Found this one a bit disappointing. The premise was really good, but I just didn’t engage with the main character and consequently, won’t be reading the rest in the series.)

Murder at Millar’s Hotel – Kelly Mason (New series from the author of the Medium of Branden Bay books. Set in the 1920s, this cosy crime series looks promising.)


A Killer at the Castle – Kelly Mason (Second in the Lady Ellen series sees Ellen unable to leave Branden Bay because a second murder follows hard on the heels of the first.)


Black Thorn – Sarah Hilary (Audiobook. Slow burning thriller that drip feeds information and constantly throws red herrings in the reader’s path. Interesting, rather than genuinely suspenseful, but kept me engaged throughout.)

The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty (Audiobook. I worked out fairly early on what the secret was. However, I didn’t forsee what the end result of that secret was going to be, until shortly before it actually happened. Equally, I found the subplot and the interweaving of it with the main one, to be very skilfully done and I found that even more interesting than the main storyline. Throughout, the book shows the lengths parents are prepared to go to in order to protect their children.)


The Gatehouse Café – KT Dady (Latest Pepper Bay book – slightly veering away from RomCom, but still a HEA. Full review coming on 4th Feb.)

If Beale Street Could Talk – James Baldwin (Set in the 1960s, a black man is accused of rape and this tells the story of his family’s fight to clear his name.)


The Flooding of Eastern England – MG & HJ Harland (Read for research. About the 1953 flood and the effect on the population. Useful and interesting.)


Britain’s Great Flood Disaster – Hank Janson (Read for research. About the 1953 flood and the effect on the population. Useful and interesting.)


Report on WVS Work in the East Coast Flood Disaster – WVS Services for Civil Defence (Read for research. Exactly what it says, a report on how the WVS responded to the 1953 flood.)


North Sea Surge – Michael Pollard (Read for research. About the 1953 flood and the effect on the population. Useful and interesting.)


Images of Old Brightlingsea – A L Wakeling (Read for research. Postcards from a byegone era, showing the town how it used to look. Interesting to see what has changed and what has remained the same.)


Stories Behind The Tiles – A L Wakeling (Read for research. Stories behind the individual tiles in All Saints’ Memorial to those of the town who were lost at sea.)


Tiles of Tragedy: Brightlingsea’s Unique Wartime Memorial – A L Wakeling & Peter Moon (Read for research. The story of how the memorial tiles came to exist thanks to the work of Brightlingsea’s popular vicar)


The Girl in the Spotty Dress – Pat Stewart with Veronica Clark (The photo of Pat Stewart wearing a spotty dress and sitting on the railings of Blackpool’s north promenade is an iconic one and this tells the story of her life, which is a fascinating one.)


May's Boys - Beryl P. Brown (This was a bit of a surprise book. A friend lent it to me because she thought I'd enjoy it. I wasn't sure it sounded like my kind of story, but trusted her judgement and said I'd give it a go. Clearly, my friends know me better than I know myself because I absolutely loved it. It's a really strong narrative and it has so many unexpected aspects to it, that it didn't fit the stereotype I was expecting. Was quite pleased to find a sequel is coming soon.


Great Poets of the Romantic Age - Various authors (Audiobook. Some of my favourite poems are from this era and my 8yo had really enjoyed listening to it and I needed a short audiobook to tide my over until my next one became available from the library. This was a nice little filler and Michael Sheen is, of course, a delight to listen to.)

Book of the Month?

This month's book of the month is a new release and the reason I know it's the right pick is because when I was offered it for review, I knew I didn't really have the time to add another book AND review to my 'to do' list. However, I also knew how much I love this series and so I barely hesitated before clicking 'yes' to the request. The link to my full review for SJ Bennett's 'A Death in Diamonds' can be found above and here is the link to my review for the previous book in the series. I think it's safe to say these books are always on my 'must read' lists!

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