This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books they’ve read and share what they have got up to during the last week.
It’s been an epic week. I’m very grateful that we have a bit of a break with the Easter holidays – no regular ferrying Ethan back and forth to college and no overseeing Oscar’s home schooling programme. The boys and I gave ourselves some major lie-ins during the week. And then, on Thursday they both went away with their stepdad for the weekend – and the big bonus is that they’ll be spending time with their sisters, too. I drove to Lancing to drop them off and then returned home again – the furthest journey I’ve driven since I got sick in March 2021. While I negotiated the heavy holiday traffic with no difficulty, I was a bit shocked at just how tired I felt in the evening and the following morning. But it’s another milestone to tick off and celebrate – the round trip is just over twenty-four miles. However, it took me nearly an hour to get home, given how busy the roads were.
Though that achievement has paled into insignificance compared with another HUGE milestone – both practically and emotionally. I was within touching distance of the end of Problems With Power, which is the third novel in my Picky Eaters series, featuring grumpy grandfather dragon, Castellan the Black. And once I got up and got going on Friday, I was able to sit down and just write without any interruptions. So I decided that I wouldn’t push, but just keep going until I was beginning to feel tired. And that’s what I did. The result was that I comfortably wrote over 4,000 words and was able to type THE END halfway down the last page.
I’ve always written stories, ever since I was a small child – though during the years when my children were very young, I gave up both reading and writing after dreaming that I’d left them in the bath, then got caught up in a book and forgotten they were there! However, once I started writing again in my thirties, I always knew I wanted to be an author. And last year, as the months rolled by and I was still unable to write more than a handful of sentences due to the brain fog and exhaustion that constantly afflicted me – I was facing the prospect that I’d never be able to write again. Even when I asked my very sympathetic Dr if I would make a full recovery, he couldn’t offer me any reassurance. Ironically, it didn’t affect my book review writing. But that is an enjoyable hobby I regard as light relief from the serious job of making up stories that are good enough for other people to read and enjoy.
What makes this particular novel special is that I was halfway through Chapter 8 on 4th March 2021 when I got sick with Covid-19. And it wasn’t until June last year that I began to be able to start writing fiction again, just a few hundred words here and there. Often there were long breaks between my writing days. So it has taken me just over two years to get the first draft completed – and for a lot of that time, I began to think this would be the unfinished manuscript to mark the end of my writing career. I’m still not who I was before – I don’t foresee being able to return to the classroom. Every so often I find myself hunting for a particular word that will not come – the boys think it hilarious, but as someone who has always been effortlessly articulate, at times I feel very diminished. So I’m humbly thankful that my writing mojo has at last fully returned. After writing the final words, I cried with relief.
On Saturday, Himself and I decided to visit Highdown Gardens as a treat. The weather was glorious and the pics are some of the spring flowers we saw growing there. We are so lucky to have these wonderful gardens so close to home.
As I’ve been really busy writing, my reading has taken a hammering – only two books this last week and one of those is an audiobook.
Last week I read:-
The Exes by Jane Lythell
When Holly is bequeathed a large but derelict house, she wants to share her good fortune. So she gets in touch with former boyfriend Ray, a builder who can project-manage the renovation in exchange for the basement flat. The spacious middle floor would make a glorious studio space—perfect for her friend and first love, Spencer. And before Holly knows it, the upper floor is let to soon-to-be ex-husband James, who’s on a path of reinvention from city highflyer to osteopath. What could possibly go wrong?
But no good deed goes unpunished, and soon the house is riddled with tension, rivalry, and petty spitefulness. And as Holly is beset with migraines, nausea, and spiralling self-doubt, even the house itself seems to be turning against her. But for someone, everything is going to plan . . .
I know and enjoy Jane Lythell’s writing – see my review of Woman of the Hour – so when she contacted me to ask if I’d like to read and review her latest release, I was happy to do so, despite domestic noir not being my go-to genre. I’m glad I did. This was a riveting read that had me staying up far too late! Review to follow. 9/10
AUDIOBOOK – Blood Ties – Book 2 of the Agents of the Crown series by Lindsay Buroker
Recently appointed Crown Agents Jev and Zenia must prove that they’re worthy of their new jobs and young King Targyon’s trust. Their mission?
To research the strange “disease of the blood” that killed Targyon’s three cousins and left him unexpectedly ruling an entire kingdom at barely twenty years of age.
There are just a few problems. If someone was responsible for creating that disease, that person could still be in the city, forcing Zenia and Jev to deal with someone very smart and very dangerous. Meanwhile, since Targyon has the same blood flowing through his veins that his cousins had, he’s at risk of becoming the next victim. And as it so happens, Jev shares some of that blood too. Might he become a target before Targyon? When Jev and Zenia signed on for this job, they didn’t realize how deadly it might become.
I thoroughly enjoy Buroker’s magical mix of action, adventure, enjoyable snark and a sprinkling of cute romance. The pacing is always well judged, the characters memorable and nuanced, with traits that can trip them up and add to the mayhem, while the worldbuilding is vividly depicted, so I can effortlessly visualise where they are and what is happening. I am also very impressed with the high standard of her production values – I love Vivienne Leheny’s narration. Once again, this second book has delivered the goods and I’m looking forward to getting hold of the next one in this series. 9/10
My posts last week:
Castellan the Black and his Wise Dragonic Musings on Life
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc The Sinister Booksellers of Bath – Book 2 of The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix
Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring The Cleaving by Juliet E. McKenna
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NETGALLEY arc Frontier by Grace Curtis
Hope you, too, had some brilliant books to tuck into and wishing you all a happy, healthy week😊.