March 2020 Roundup – Reading, Writing and Blogging… #BrainfluffMarch2020Roundup


I’ve just read my roundup for February with a sense of unreality, because I didn’t once mention COVID 19. And whatever else I was chatting about, it didn’t include social isolation, daily death tolls and endless hand-washing. And now I’m going to take a deep breath and make that the last time I talk about that stuff. Because this is about carrying on as best we can, despite all that misery and fear. And maybe it’s rank cowardice, but I’m turning to the biggest consolation in my life, when the going gets tough. The one thing that never lets me down – books.

I read nineteen books in March, which I think is a record number. It was a really good month, with some cracking reads. This is the list:

Death of a Bean Counter – Book 12 of the Maggy Thorsen mystery series by Sandra Balzo – Review to follow

Song of Achilles AUDIOBOOK by Madeline Miller – this is my oustanding audiobook read of the month. Review to follow.

Feathertide by Beth Cartwright. Review to follow.

The Last Protector – Book 4 of the Lovett and Marwood series by Andrew Taylor

A Dying Fall – Book 5 of the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths.

Longbourn AUDIOBOOK by Jo Baker. Review to follow.

On Writing by Stephen King

Minimum Wage Magic – Book 1 of the DFZ series by Rachel Aaron

By the Pricking of her Thumb – Book 2 of the Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts

The Case of the Missing Servant – Book 1 of the Vish Puri series by Tarquin Hall

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer AUDIOBOOK – Book 1 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series by Rick Riordan

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished – Book 3 of the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron. Review to follow

Interdicted Space – Book 2 of the Interstellar Space Agency by Gillian Andrews

War of the Maps by Paul McAuley

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Clutter Corpse – Book 1 of the Decluttering Mysteries by Simon Brett. Review to follow

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Macksey – this is my outstanding book of the month. Review to follow.

A Dragon of a Different Colour – Book 4 of the Heartstriker series by Rachel Aaron

I finally completed the first draft of Mantivore Warrior in the second week of March. The book ended up being just over 103,000 words long – so much for thinking I was nearing the end at the 75,000 words mark! It took another 12,500 words to finish it and then I was quite ill for nearly a fortnight. I do need to learn to pace myself…

I’ve put it on one side and have been working on my first Creative Writing How-To book on Characterisation. It’s going reasonably well, I’ve just finished Chapter Five on Viewpoint, but it’s very different to writing fiction. I’m hoping to have it completed by the end of April – but with all that’s going on, inevitably that has to be more of a hope than a solid target. Overall, I wrote just over 48,000 words in March, with just over 15,000 words on my blog and just under 30,000 words going towards my writing projects, which brings my yearly total to just over 136,000 words so far.

Like many others, I’m finding my online friends a real source of consolation. I can’t tell you how grateful I feel having so many lovely people around me from the book blogging community to talk books with. It’s at times like these that you discover what really matters and who has your back… Wishing everyone a peaceful, healthy April and stay safe.xx

28 responses »

    • Thank you, Becky. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, given that I’ve been teaching Creative Writing for a decade now, so I’ve VIEWS on what is important and useful for students to know and what they also need to be constantly reminded about as they continue to write.

  1. Glad to hear ye be doing okay and trudging along with the rest of us. Are ye gonna write a longer review for the raven tower and the rachel aaron stuff? I rather loved the raven tower and think about it periodically. I have read the first two of the DFZ series and was amazed at how much I liked those urban fantasies given how much that genre is usually a miss for me. I am super impressed by the number of books that ye be reading. Life has been so insane this year that I am not reading enough and it makes me sad. This weekend I hope to read a whole book. Arrr!
    x The Captain

    • Thank you, Cap. I am not writing a longer review on The Raven Tower – but I really loved it and like you – it’s one that has stayed with me. I’ve written a review on the third Rachel Aaron book – the Heartstriker series is one of my favourite urban fantasy series, ever. And I also loved the first DFZ book. One of the problems with reading quite so much, is that I’m having to make hard decisions as to what I review.

      I hope you are managing to tuck into a book this weekend and continue to stay safe and healthy. Take care, Capx

  2. Wow 19 books is a dream for me! I’m happy if I manage 8! And congrats on writing so much. It seems like the isolation is working in your favor, you’ve been very productive😁

  3. I’m so glad that you’re okay. Seriously — you seem like such a nice person. Anyway, here it’s been trying, with the orange malignancy infesting the oval office and fouling everything it touches.
    Yesterday, I hauled a very sick friend to get tested — he lives way on the southeast side and the test site is way on the northwest side, a distance of about 23 miles each way. There’s almost no testing here (Arizona, last per capita in the union), and it only happened because he was so sick — has prostate cancer, is undergoing both radiation and chemo, and shows all the signs of infection.
    His truck was broken down, so I had to haul him there in the bed of my pickup.
    Once there, it was like a scene out of a disaster movie — seeing and talking with folks in moon suits. The really surreal part was that since they have a very rigid procedure where they just want to test people sealed inside of cars, and my pal Julio was lying in the back of my truck,
    they asked me, “Is it okay if he gets inside of the cab while we test him?” Seriously, They actually asked me that. I said, “No!” And eventually they relented and tested him away from the tent where they did the routine tests. I just sat there staring forward until I heard Julio start to scream; I looked in the rearview mirror and saw him squirming with the swab up in his sinus cavities. Once it was over, I drove him home dropped him off, and once home had a couple of stiff drinks.
    The kicker? They told him it would be up to ten days before they gave hime the results.
    I really wish this was just a disaster movie.

    • Oh no… that sounds absolutely terrible! I’m so very, very sorry. I really hope your friend is okay. What a dreadful experience for someone already so poorly… I think you did a good thing driving him to get a test. Though that seems a very long time to wait for the results! Wishing you stay well and healthy…

      • Thank you. I’m physically fine, but am going stir crazy three weeks into self-isolation.
        I’m better situated than most people, with a veggie garden I work in daily, a music studio/practice room in the backyard, four wonderful avian companions, and a nonfiction book that’s well along (“24 Reasons to Abandon Christianity” — due to ill health, I missed the 500th anniversary of Luther’s “24 Theses” a couple of years ago”), plus a couple of barely begun sci-fi novels where I’m wrestling with the plot (and losing thus far). And I’m still going stir crazy. ( It makes me really want to help end the form of penal torture known as solitary confinement.)

        I hope you’re continuing to write, and that you and yours are well and as happy as possible under the circumstances.

      • I’m glad you have the veggie patch and the music studio, plus your lovely companions – your icon now makes wonderful sense:)). The non-fiction books sounds intriguing – as do the sci-fi novels. But I do understand your frustration regarding the lockdown.

        I’m finding writing and reading a great escape from the current madness – thank you for your kind good wishes and I very much hope you continue to stay well. And hope you manage to find comfort with growing your own food, making music and writing…

  4. In these difficult times, having such a busy month is simply a blessing – and I’ve often thought that we book lovers are truly lucky in that we have the possibility to escape elsewhere with out mind and forget for a while the fear and sadness of the present.
    Here’s to keeping safe, healthy and above all sane! 🙂

    • Thank you, Maddalena. Oh yes – I am daily thankful that I love reading and have the writing. While I’m not entirely sure about the sane bit – ranting to the bathroom mirror about the online lack of expertise regarding omniscient POV might be edging towards the unhinged – at least it keeps me from sinking into all that fear and sadness.

      Wishing a book-crammed month for you, too, Maddalena:)))

      • Oh, these days ranting against inanimate objects is not only allowed, it’s required! 😀
        I received a funny audio from a friend about that, where it said that we should call psychological help only if said inanimate objects talk back, so… rant away! 😉

  5. I’m so glad to hear The Song of Achilles was such a great read for you. I really loved it and hope to read Circe sometime this month if I can get the audiobook from the library.

    • I do hope you get hold of Circe – much as I loved The Song of Achilles, I think that Circe has left more of an impact. Though the writing is absolutely fabulous throughout both books – Miller is SUCH a talent!

    • Thank you, Katherine – it really was a bumper month for me. And I’m hoping that April is going to be another fabulous one as I’ve some lovely books lined up. Thank goodness for reading! Have a safe, peaceful week, Katherine:)

  6. I totally agree with you. Books and blogging are a huge books consulation at the moment. I’m so thankful to have that in my life.
    I’ve been seeing The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse a lot lately.

    Stay safe and happy reading.

    • Yes, I am constantly thankful for my love of books – but never more so than now! If you get a chance to snaffle a copy of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and Horse – do so. It’s a joy… Have a good week – and stay safe, Maureen. I will be thinking of you as I clap on Thursday…

  7. Wow, 19 books – I’m not even sure I’ve read that many for the whole year – I’ve not really been keeping track which is something I need to address.
    Keep on keeping safe.
    Lynn 😀

    • Thank you, Lynn. I’m not really sure how that happened. I think I kept my head down and kept reading – though this month, I’m writing too hard to read that much… And you – yes, you keep safe, please!

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