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Written and Read 2/12

Writing Goals

  1. 'The Mermaid' published and successfully launched

  2. Avonstow 3 fully plotted and researched

  3. 'Not All There' (Castle Priory Press book) ready to be published next month. Available to pre-order on Kindle

  4. Book 2 of The Courts series went to my editor and her edits done

Reading Goals

  • 7/30 library books (17 left)

  • 2023 kindle list complete. Reading books added in 2024 now

  • 3/15 bookshelf books read (10 left)

  • 0/3 books to buy read (3 left)

I haven't made much progress on my 2023 list this month because my Kindle Unlimited subscription is coming to an end (so I can focus on getting the writing done) so I've been trying to read the last few books on that, as well as still reading books for research purposes. I knew I was going to lose a lot of time because of school holidays this month, so the first couple of weeks were a bit hectic, but I actually managed to get more done than I'd expected to, so I'm not as far behind as I'd expected to be. I have however, found it quite difficult to concentrate when I've been reading for pleasure and as I get twitchy when it takes me more than three days to read a book, this can sometimes pose a bit of a problem. Nevertheless, I'm trying to be sensible about it! The same applies to Avonstow Book 3. I can't help the feeling I'm trying to avoid actually starting to write it because I've done so much research and planning, but again I'm trying to bear in mind that I've found that the more planning I do, the quicker and easier the first draft flows, so I'm hoping that although I feel like I'm massively behind in beginning to write it, it won't take as long as it usually does to actually get it written. My main excuse is that I'm prioritising editing The Courts Book 2, as I'm now on a proper deadline with that one! Time will tell, I suppose, I just have to have faith that I'm doing the right thing.

Book Reviews


Murder In A Bookshop – Anita Davison (Read this to catch up with the series I was reviewing Book 2 of. Like the premise because it’s set during the First World War, which adds another dimension to the plot. This was a nice set up for the series, but it did throw me a bit at first, as the usual trope is for the heroine to end up in a relationship with the policeman and this wasn’t the case here.)

Murder In The Library – Anita Davison (Read for review. Enjoyable 2nd instalment of the series. Full review can be found here.)

The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – Agatha Christie (Audiobook. Listened to this as a filler audiobook until my next one was ready to download. Love Agatha Christie and had forgotten this was a collection of short stories. Was nice to hear them all again.)

The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler (Audiobook. Chandler is an author who keeps being recommended to me and this is a decent introduction to his most famous character, Philip Marlowe. Not something I would read lots more of, but a very distinctive style which kept my interest.)

Murder By Invitation – Verity Bright (Lady Eleanor Swift series. Plot shows how the past can influence the rest of a person’s life and what can happen when a community turns on its own people.)

Murder on the Cornish Cliffs – Verity Bright (Lady Eleanor Swift series. Like the previous book, this one also looks at how the past heavily influences the future and how the mistakes of previous generations continue to weigh heavily on those who come after.)

Devil’s Breath – Jill Johnson (interesting and different crime novel with an unusual protagonist. Am hoping there is more to come from Doctor Eustacia Rose.)

The American Agent – Jacqueline Winspear (Next Maisie Dobbs book sees Maisie falling in love again and considering her future as a parent. Am really hoping that this time, nothing happens to mess things up for her.)

Short Stories

Love In A Fallen City – Eileen Chang (Had to read this quite quickly as it was due back at the library, so it was rather a rushed read, but I did enjoy it nonetheless. As with the other Chang collection I read, there were one or two stories which stood out, but the collection is worth reading as it gives a real flavour of life in Hong Kong at this time.)


Running Grave – Robert Galbraith (I do like the Strike series, but the constant will they-won’t they between Strike and Robin is now getting annoying. It’s dragged on for too long now in my opinion and needs resolving one way or the other. That said, I did enjoy the book, even if the cult stuff made me feel incredibly claustrophobic.)

Verity – Colleen Hoover (Book Group pick. I’m convinced I’ve read this book before as so much of it was familiar. I did enjoy it, but there were several points of the plot that I found quite hard to believe, even for a fiction book.)

Then She Was Gone – Lisa Jewell (Audiobook. Creepy story about how closely lives can become intertwined and the randomness of how lives can change through a series of coincidences. So much to unpick in this and the plot twists just kept coming.)


The Secret Diary of Charles Ignatius Sancho – Paterson Joseph (Sancho is a character I knew about from David Olusoga’s book ‘Black and British’ and I was intrigued by the idea of blending fact and fiction to bring him back to life through his diary. It was certainly an interesting way of approaching the story and I liked the fact that Joseph explains his reasoning in his introduction to the book. This is definitely a person more people should know about and I’m all for fiction which gives a voice to the forgotten/ignored people of history.)

The Letter – Ruth Saberton (1st in a trilogy set in Cornwall. Split timeline historical fiction, which is my favourite genre to write in as well! Mystery of the death and lost poems of a promising young poet from an aristocratic family who fell in love with the doctor’s daughter. It was always going to end in tragedy, but it was a beautiful story nonetheless.)

The Locket – Ruth Saberton (2nd Rosecraddick book. I love that this builds on the previous story and looks at the proposed marriage between Kit and Emmy from Emmy’s perspective. Sad, but beautiful story.)


Oyster Shore – Ruth Saberton (3rd Rosecraddick book. It took me a bit longer to get into this one than it did the other two, but the ending was so wonderful, it was well worth it.)

Young Adult

The Nicest Girl – Sophie Jo (I liked the sound of this, mainly because I find it very difficult to say no to people. I’m not the target audience and it’s definitely not a ‘drilling a message home’ kind of book, but I do think it contains some important points for teenagers in terms of setting their own boundaries etc.)


Enemy Coast Ahead – Guy Gibson (Audiobook. Outdated language and slurs aside, this was a really interesting account of both Guy Gibson’s life and the Dambusters raid. Equally interesting was what was left out of this official account. Would recommend reading it if you can rather than listening to the audio version, as the narrator was not particularly good.)

The Secret Story About Agatha Christie – P Jackson (Interesting, if utterly unbelievable, interpretation of Agatha Christie’s work. Examines the repeated plots/threads that occur throughout her books and comes to the conclusion that she had a secret marriage and child during the period Archie Christie was believed to be dead and that this child was subsequently hidden away, initially just from the world, but latterly, also from Christie herself.)


Three Men In A Boat – Jerome K Jerome (Audiobook. Actually listened to this last month, but for some reason, I forgot to write it down. This has been on my ‘might like to read’ list for years, ever since my first trip to Hampton Court Palace, but it never quite made it onto the ‘definitely going to read’ pile. I’m glad it finally did, because I thought it was utterly brilliant and the character came to life beautifully through the narration.)

The Rainbow – DH Lawrence (Mixed this up with reading and audiobook. I love Lady Chatterley so I’ve been looking forward to reading this, but I found it quite hard to get into and to keep track of the different generations of characters. However, I was enjoying it and wanted to persevere, so listening to the audio version in between helped a lot.)


Strictly Christmas Spirit – Helen Buckley (Light and fluffy story which didn’t require too much mental exertion to read.)

The Christmas Fayre on Holly Field – Lilac Mills (Not one I would have picked up ordinarily, but the eco angle gave it something different and it did make me consider my own buying habits, which my husband would probably say was a good thing!)


The Rattle Bag – Seamus Heaney & Ted Hughes [Eds] (Some good poems I hadn’t come across before, but also a reasonable amount that I wasn’t that struck by.)


Fleishman Is In Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner (This was a really interesting one. I had an idea in my head of what it was going to be about and I couldn’t have been further from the truth. I’d been expecting some kind of thriller and actually it was a portrait of the breakdown of a marriage, but told in such a way that it kept me on my toes just as much as a thriller would have done. The last section was so beautifully written that it reversed everything we’d been told up to that point and it captured the pressure women in particular can feel in a relationship as well as the misunderstandings that can arise when assumptions are made and not communicated properly.)

Book of the Month?

I think, on balance, this month's main recommendation has to be 'Fleishman Is In Trouble'. The main reason for this is that in spite of it not being the book I'd anticipated, I really enjoyed it. Not only that, but it was thought-provoking and by the end of it, had managed to completely change my opinion of Rachel. Not an easy task!

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