Friday, 19 January 2018

Routine Interruptus

I’m big on routine.  As soon as the Christmas break was over and done with I was keen to resume my usual schedule of works. I’m always more productive when I’ve got a regular routine to follow. I’m also lucky that I’m naturally an early riser so getting the majority of my work done in the morning after a large coffee is no chore at all. I don’t even need to set my alarm. I’m sure for those who find early mornings a trial this must sound unbelievable. Perhaps what set the tone was all those 5am wake-up calls when I was a teenager training for ice skating championships. Whatever the reason, I find mornings easy. And I’ve found them increasingly easy the more I do the thing I love to do so much.

So I expected this January to be no different. Of course I wasn’t counting on a bout of the flu to stop me in my tracks.  It caught me totally unawares. I felt a bit out of sorts but was eager to get on with the day to day stuff so contacted parents about resuming schedules. Then followed the projectile vomiting, shivers, painful joints and blinding headaches. No, it was not fun.

Thankfully I’m on the mend but always find a period of illness such a chore. My thoughts always seem to be fighting their way out of an endless fog. It also means I can’t read much because I lose the thread after about 5 minutes.

In short – being ill sucks.

One advantage was that to stave off boredom I watched a lot of TV. I managed to catch up on the majority of my To Watch list on iPlayer. I finally got through the entire series of Peaky Blinders which was recommended to me over a year ago. So it turned out this illness had some gogglebox compensations.

But I’m very glad indeed to be writing once more and am eager to get on with my main task this Spring – editing Palindrome.  Keep your eyes peeled for more news of this prequel to Six Dead Men. It’s due out in the Summer.

So whatever your writing plans for 2018 – may you be productive and achieve everything you set out to. May you also escape the flu.

I write therefore I am.

Friday, 12 January 2018

#Indie Intro

#Review: A Touch of Magic by Lisa M White

This book was a tonic which helped pull me out of the glums I was feeling after having recently read two overly prophetic books about current society.

It tells the tale of isolated plastic surgeon Jessie Inglewood whose pride and prejudice regarding her profession and practitioners of natural medicine lands her in turbulent waters. With the help of the mysterious Angel and a bit of magic she comes to see the error of her closed off mind.

An easy read, the style is relaxed but plays with ideas of thwarted romance giving us two leading men in the form of heart surgeon Dr Bergh and naturopath Adam Newfield. Which one of these men will claim Jessie’s heart and lead her to happiness? The plot also touches on the consequences of bereavement.

There were moments when I didn’t really believe the dialogue but that did not take away from my enjoyment of the content. It was also a little too obvious who Jessie would end up with ultimately and that aspect of the story could possibly have been more disguised with a few red herrings.

I was however disappointed the author chose not to explore the threat of Jessie’s disbarment from the medical profession. None of this conflict is present in the book. This is a shame as it would have added an extra dimension to the plot. Nor do we discover how Jessie reconnects with her true love.

Ultimately this is a book to help ease the stresses of a hard day and certainly does that. I would however have liked there to be a bit more of it.

Lisa M White

Friday, 5 January 2018

New Year New Challenge

In 2016 I resolved to set myself a reading challenge through Goodreads. This first challenge saw me attempting to read 100 books in a year. I achieved this with only the tiniest bit of cheating. I’ve been assured it was allowable cheating, so thankfully my penance simply consists of having to read more books.

My second challenge saw me delving into the #Discworld. What a Fantasy-tastic challenge that was. To read about it please check out my 15 December post from last year. For my reviews of all the books I read please go to Goodreads.

This year I’m going for the big 100 again but with a little twist. My aim is to read as many graphic novels and Indie books as possible. To save costs I’ll be getting the graphic novels from the library and the majority of the independent books I’ll probably read on my kindle. So I’m going to be spending a fair amount of time accessing books through Instafreebie for that portion of the challenge.

For those of you not familiar with Instafreebie, let me enlighten you. It was created in 2014 with the main aim of accelerating “great stories and big ideas.” How it works is that you sign up to an Instafreebie e-book giveaway (YES, THAT’S A FREE E-BOOK) and in exchange you give your email address to the author of the book. The author can then add you to his/her mailing list so you can hopefully become one of his/her loyal followers. You’re not stuck in this loop though. If you’re not really into the author’s work, you can opt out of the mailing list later down the line. It’s that simple.

The great thing for an Indie author like me is that it helps me build my mailing list and hopefully get a loyal readership along the way. Reading books from the Instafreebie catalogue also gives me the opportunity to find other Indie authors out there and support them by writing a blurb/review of their book. Trust me, us Indie authors love Love LOVE a review. Yes, that is a hint.

The superb thing for a reader on a limited budget is that you get books for FREE. As an avid reader always watching the pennies, I’m in seventh heaven about this arrangement.

I’ve already got my eye on a selection of authors I’m planning on reading through Instafreebie. I'll be publishing reviews of these independent authors on this blog in posts which will be entitled #Indie Intro. The first of these will be A Touch of Magic by Lisa M White.

Where I’d like your help though is with suggestions for graphic novels I should consider.  Please post suggested titles in the comment box and I promise I’ll read them if they’re available through my local library.

The following titles have already been suggested:

Anything by Daniel Clowes
Rivers of London

Happy reading everyone and thanks in advance for reading suggestions to come.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year!

Wishing all my followers, their family & friends a happy and prosperous new year. May all your most heartfelt dreams be realised.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

My Year in Books

I’ve done it! Just ahead of my 31 December deadline I’ve finished my final book of the Discworld series. There are 41 books in total so the smallest amount of cheating was involved since I’d already read 16 of them prior to setting myself this challenge. Despite this it was more difficult than I initially anticipated.  Some of the books took longer to read because they didn’t grip me in the way I expected. Because of this I was forced to abandon my desire to reread several of my favourites such as The Wee Free Men. There is however next year for that.

The most unexpected part of this challenge was that I didn’t automatically love every single Discworld novel penned by Sir Pratchett. Happily I loved enough of them to justify this author’s status as one of my favourites forever more. Besides, anyone who co-authors a book like Good Omens is a writing god as far as I’m concerned.

I didn’t only read the Discworld series during this period though. There were several others and there are some corkers in that list such as The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden & Flowers for Algernon. In total I read 58 books this year.

This challenge has turned my top 5 list into a top 6:

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
The Lord Of The Rings
Flowers For Algernon
The Book Thief
Jane Eyre

If this keeps up I’ll have a top 10 before the end of 2018.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the New Year holds even more extraordinary reads for me to discover. After all, I’m never going to stop reading.


I hope your 2017 reading has been half as enjoyable as mine. Wishing you further reading happiness for 2018.

Friday, 15 December 2017

A Touch More Fantasy If You Please

Reading through 41 Discworld novels is harder than it would seem. This I realised after I undertook the challenge at the start of 2017. I originally figured since I find Fantasy my go to genre when life’s being a bit antsy, it would be a breeze.

The trouble with this though is that not every single book written by a favourite author may be as good as the last one you read. I came to understand this quickly as I was disappointed by some of the books on offer in Pratchett’s Discworld series.

But I was quickly heartened to find the themes, characters and humour I so love about Pratchett coming to the fore in their droves the more I read.  I once again began to feel my choice of genre and author was justified. Top of my list are the following:

Guards Guards
Men At Arms
Carpe Jugulum
Feet of Clay

However, by far my favourite of the entire series is The Wee Free Men. I defy anyone to read this and not come away thoroughly entertained. These outrageous little characters with their OTT Scottish accents and devilish shenanigans wormed their way into my affections completely. What thrills me even more about this little package of Pratchett dynamite is the fact it’s actually a children’s book.

So what’s it all about?

It’s the first book in a series about 9 year old Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle (The Wee Free Men to us Sassenachs). It’s a book about being special in an ordinary world and running with that. What I love most about this book is how it celebrates individuality and encourages children to be the person they most want to be. It acknowledges differences and reminds us that to be good at any craft we need to work at it.

There are 4 more books about Tiffany and the Nac Mac Feegle after this one. All are well worth the read.

A Hat Full of Sky
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Shephard’s Crown

But I confess I did not read these because I wanted to know what Tiffany’s character would do next. I was far more concerned about what the wee fellas were getting up to. And I was not disappointed either.

I read these long before I embarked on my crazy plan to read all 41 Discworld novels. However, I plan on rereading them even though I don’t have to.  Once you read about a Nac Mac Feegle it’s hard to stop – you get addicted and start emulating their speech patterns. So be warned. For me, it’s an addiction well worth the strange stares. The added bonus is, you get to take them with you wherever you go. My one sorrow is that Pratchett is no longer with us to create more adventures for these irascible yet adorable characters.

This post has been updated and edited since its first airing on Anna Caig’s reading blog in November.