The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones #BookReview (@belindatravels) @NottingHillPR @delcoronado #TheHotelWhereWeMet #california #travel

The Hotel Where We Met

There’s a very particular reason why Chloe Sinclair has not met her Mr Right – he doesn’t exist. And he doesn’t exist because he was never born. And the reason he was never born is because the right couples in history did not get together. It now falls to Chloe to travel back in time to matchmake like her love-life depended on it…

Each of Chloe’s trips revolves around the iconic Hotel Del Coronado – part historic landmark, part Californian fairytale. Here she experiences the Victorian era when the doors first opened, the Roaring Twenties, the Fifties during the filming of Some Like It Hot and the Eighties karaoke party of your dreams!

A very special friendship has guided her to this point but the adventures go way beyond Chloe’s expectations and she soon learns that, when it comes to love, it’s all in the timing…

About flipping time! It has been waaaaaaay too long since I had a new Belinda Jones book to read, so I was absolutely delighted when I found out that Belinda had a new book coming out and that she was looking for bloggers to give it some early reviews. I have been a huge fan since I read her first book (Divas Las Vegasstill one of my favourites) so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an early copy of her latest book, The Hotel Where We Met. Huge thanks to Belinda for sending my an e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

For anyone who has never read a book by Belinda before (and why not, I ask?), she writes fabulous, fun romance stories set in exotic locations, and this is no exception. The story revolves around the famous Hotel Del Coronado set on Coranado Island, just off the coast of California near San Diego. Many of you will recognise it as the setting for the movie Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, and this fact does not escape comment in the book, but you’ll have to read it to find out the significance. Disney lovers will also recognise the hotel as the inspiration for the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.

The main reason that I love Belinda’s books so much is that she is a genius at bringing the settings of her book to life in the mind of her reader. She whisks you away from whatever mundane location you happen to be reading the book in and straight into the heart of the book, so they are perfect for armchair travellers such as myself. There is not a book of hers that I have read without wanting to jump on a plane and head off to its setting immediately. The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo has been on my bucket list for years after it featured in The California Club (my one chance to go was thwarted by heavy rain washing the road into the sea just before our Highway 1 trip was due to happen. One day I’ll try again!) and Quebec City jumped straight to the top of my dream destination list after I read Winter WonderlandNow I am busy Googling holiday packages to California so I can visit the Del. (I think I’ve got a good chance on this one as The Irishman is desperate to do a California trip.) This book sells the destination and lifestyle better than any glossy travel brochure or expensive commercial could do. I could picture the hotel clearly in my minds eye and was right there with Chloe. Now I want to be right there for real.

Aside from the exotic setting, this book has a great romance story and fantastic characters that you will absolutely fall head over heels for, but what sets this book apart is the time travel twist. I don’t want to say much and include any spoilers in my review, what I will say is that Belinda is a genius and has really pulled the plot of all plots out of the bag for this book. I absolutely loved it, and loved how it enabled her to twist lots of fun time periods and historical detail together. It is like she has taken everything I ever loved about my all-time favourite romantic fiction books and crammed them all in to this story. I feel like she wrote it just to make me happy, it warmed every cockle of my heart. I raced through it, but didn’t want it to end. It was summer reading perfection, especially for a week that has been damp and dreary here in Yorkshire. Escapism, in every sense of the word, at its best.

Belinda Jones fans will not be disappointed in this book, and those of you who haven’t read any of her books before will get a great introduction to what makes her books so special. As for me, I have a question and a suggestion for Belinda. Firstly, when is the paperback coming out, because I need it for my ‘Belinda Jones’ shelf? Secondly, please don’t leave it so long before you write another book, I have really missed you.

The Hotel Where We Met is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Belinda Jones is the bestselling author of 12 travelicious novels set in dream locations from Tahiti to Capri. Her latest novel – THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET – takes the travel theme a step further with time travel to the Victorian era, Roaring Twenties, Fifties and Eighties for the best music party – all set on a dreamy Californian beach!

If you like Red Velvet Cake, Whoopie Pie or pink cupcakes, join four generations of women on a cake-themed odyssey around New England with THE TRAVELLING TEA SHOP

If you’re a Dog-lover or USA-lover you’ll enjoy Belinda’s real life memoir BODIE ON THE ROAD – The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness. (Think EAT PRAY LOVE meet MARLEY & ME!) There’s also a matching website with lots of fun dog travel tips & guides: http://www.bodieontheroad.com

Belinda’s first real-life road trip memoir – ON THE ROAD TO MR RIGHT: The Search For The American Dream Guy – made the Sunday Times Top 10 alongside her hero Bill Bryson.

The Romantic Novelists’ Association nominated her one snowy story – WINTER WONDERLAND – for Best Romantic Comedy of the Year. The action takes place during the magical Quebec Winter Carnival and features husky puppies (hence the pic!)

For everyone who wishes life could be one long holiday but has a short attention span, Belinda has teamed up with some of the hottest writers in women’s fiction to take you Around the World in 80+ Stories with the bumper SUNLOUNGER & SUNLOUNGER 2 short story anthologies! Visit http://www.sunloungerstories.com to discover more about the talent involved, including Milly Johnson, Alexandra Potter, Ruth Saberton, Talli Roland and Victoria Fox.

Belinda’s dream home is the paradise island of Coronado (the setting for THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET) but she and Bodie are currently spending the summer in Devon, UK doing intensive Cream Tea research.

Connect with Belinda:

Website: https://www.bodieontheroad.com

Facebook: Belinda Jones Travel Club

Twitter: @belindatravels

Instagram: @bodieontheroad

Pinterest: @belindatravels

Friday Night Drinks with…. Liam Livings @LiamLivings @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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So, it’s been a while since I’ve been well enough to indulge in Friday Night Drinks, but tonight I am back with a bang with one of my most fabulous virtual nights out so far. Tonight I’m joined by someone I’ve been lucky enough to meet IRL, and who has produced probably the best set of images I’ve ever had for one of these guests spots, author and fellow RNA member, the lovely…Liam Livings.

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Liam, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

A strawberry daiquiri please. In a large glass, with a glace cherry and a straw. 

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Oooh, one of my favourites! But we should really be drinking these in Sloppy Joe’s down in Key West, preferably when Hemingway was still frequenting the joint. But hey, this is your night so,  if we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Heaven. A gay club over 4 floors, right next to Charing Cross station. They have cheesy pop music and live acts on Saturday night – GAY is the name of the night since the Astoria was demolished. Himself, my boyfriend, used to be a member of the VIP lounge there. Oh, if those walls could talk, the celebrities we used to see! 

I’m in! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Goldie Hawn and Chris Hemsworth. Goldie Hawn because I’ve loved her so much since forever. Seeing her in interviews I reckon she’d be a great laugh. And Chris Hemsworth, because he’s fun, but also because Thor. 

Great choices, but we might have to arm wrestle for Chris! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m taking a break from self-editing a big backlog of my WIPs. I had 8 of them and have been working my way through and submitting them since late 2018. I’ve got one left to do and I’m just giving myself a week or so off for a change. I’m just about to read a RNA New Writers’ Scheme manuscript and write an appraisal. I’ve been a reader for the NWS since 2014 and think it’s a wonderful scheme. It’s given me lots of suggestions for common pitfalls when teaching writing workshops with my partner in sarcasm and writing crime, Virginia Heath – together we’re Real People Write Books. 

I’ve not submitted my NWS manuscript this year yet so I know it’s not mine you are reading! I agree, for new writers it is the most fantastic scheme, and I am so privileged to be a part of it. We all appreciate the helpful feedback from the readers so much, so thank you!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was being shortlisted for the romantic comedy novel award in the 2019 RONAs. I couldn’t believe that a story about a cross-dressing gay man looking for love in Hampshire in the 1990s would be published, never mind end up shortlisted. Kev is a secondary character in my Best Friends Perfect series – the first of my published books – and he screamed for his own story. So I wrote him a trilogy. 

My biggest challenge has been fitting in writing around the rest of my life. 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d like one of my books to be for sale at airports. I’d love for one of my quirky British gay romance stories to be something holiday makers pick up to read on a sunbed by a pool. I think society has a while to go until that’s the case, but it’s definitely a big dream of mine. 

That would be a wonderful thing to see. Let’s hope we are moving in the right direction for that to happen soon. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I have at least three fiction novels I’m planning to write in 2019. The one that’s most exciting me at the moment is a historical gay romance. Set in the 1950s, with all the societal challenges of being gay then. It’s about a surgeon and a farm hand who at first hate one another as they’re complete opposites, but soon find there’s a mutual attraction. But they need to overcome societal, professional, emotional and legal challenges to be together. I’ve never written historical before, so this is going to be a special sort of challenge. I’m really looking forward to writing it from April on wards. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love the Canary Islands – 4 hours from the UK and it’s so warm. I recently went to Florida for the first time and it won’t be the last. The climate, the food, the people, the laid-back nature of Key West and party atmosphere of Miami South Beach. I loved all of it. I’d like to visit India at some point, plus China and Japan. I’ve read that the combination of language and culture makes China and Japan about as different from the West as you can get without leaving the planet. 

I LOVE Key West, I’ll be back there in 6 weeks. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was born with bilateral (both) club feet. 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I can’t pick one, so here’s a list: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. Romancing The Wrong Twin by Clare London. The World is Full of Married Men by Jackie Collins. Octavia by Jilly Cooper. 

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Great choices, Rachel’s Holiday is one of my all time favourite books too. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Alternate soft drinks with alcoholic ones. Have small drinks – singles and little glasses of wine. Stop drinking at 3 alcoholic beverages. Eat food while drinking. I had a rose wine based incident in Hampshire last summer and was completely useless for the whole of the next day. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A walk in the forest. A long bath with a book. Making food – particularly baking a cake. 

Liam, thank you so much for joining me this evening, I’ve had a great time and look forward to seeing you in person again soon at the RNA Conference.

Liam’s book, Adventures in Dating…In Heels was shortlisted for the romantic comedy novel RONA 2019 award and you can buy a copy here.

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Kev Harrison is a teenager, looking for a boyfriend and friends who will accept his cross-dressing. Only thing is, he lives in a small village near Salisbury, England, and it’s the nineties.

Tony Collins is Kev’s best friend, a Goth with a passion for fashion and anything to do with the Human League. He stands as the voice of reason while Kev muddles his way through coming out, career choices, and dating…in heels.

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

Published since 2013 by a number of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as https://www.realpeoplewritebooks.com/ and has also ghostwritten a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography. 

You can find out more about Liam via his website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by author Rosie Travers, so you won’t want to miss that.

 

The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan #BookReview #BlogTour @headlinepg @annecater @NetGalley #RandomThingsTours #NetGalley #TheGiftOfFriends

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Kingfisher Road – a leafy, peaceful street in the town of Vayhill. But there are whispers behind closed doors. Who is moving into Number 10?

Engaged to handsome, wealthy Justin Johnston, Danielle appears to her new neighbours to have the perfect, glossy life. But not everything is as it seems…

In fact, each of the other four women who live close by has a secret, and each is nursing their own private heartache.

But could a gift be waiting on their doorsteps? And, by opening their front doors, and their hearts, to each other, could the women of Kingfisher Road discover all the help they need?

This thirteenth and final novel from the beloved and inspiring Emma Hannigan is a life-affirming, uplifting story that celebrates the strength and joys of female friendship.

I’m thrilled to be winding up the blog tour for The Gift of Friends by Emma Hannigan today and I send my huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours who squeezed me in to the tour because she knew I was desperate to be included, and to Headline for my copy of the book via NetGalley, a book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a beautiful book. Truly. I enjoyed every single second I spent between its pages and I was incredibly sad when it was over. I wanted to linger in the story, and in the lives  of the five women who were the main characters of the book, what better endorsement could you possibly give a book?

The book follows the lives of five women who live on the same beautiful street in Ireland. The women are friends, but they all have problems and secrets that they aren’t sharing with one another, until circumstances force hidden issues out in to the open. This is a book about how the support and understanding of people who care about you can help you through and make problems easier to bear.

The writing in this novel is very warm and engaging, it draws you in and holds you in its grasp throughout the book. As soon as I started reading, I was completely lost in the story, the world outside the book ceased to exist and I was totally engrossed in the world that the author created. Being pulled from the pages felt like a loss each time, and I couldn’t wait to get back into the story every time I had to put it down; I raced through the pages, whilst not wanting the story to end.

The characters are very well written and believable. I believed these women could exist and have the relationships and the problems that were featured in the book. Their lives perhaps are not extraordinary, or particularly exciting, but they were real and relatable and exactly the kind of thing that you or I might experience in our lives. I felt like they could be me and my friends and I loved reading about them as if they were my own friends.

Although the issues dealt with in the book may not seem earth-shattering to the outside world, the book deals with the type of things that can really rock the world of the woman involved, even if it is invisible to the outside world and makes little ripple in the fabric of  the universe outside of that life. It shows how people can be struggling in secret without anyone noticing the seismic things that are happening within them, and what a difference it can make when someone does notice and reaches out. The storylines were written so tenderly and with such empathy that there were many parts that truly moved me and had me welling up, a lump at the back of my throat. It is a really wonderful and well-written book that rewarded me in spades for picking it up.

I think this book has made it on to my list of my favourite reads of the year so far. It is charming, engaging, thought-provoking, uplifting and moving. The fact this is Emma’s final book lends it an additional poignancy and I really hope it is widely read. it deserves to be, and any reader will not regret picking it up.

The Gift of Friends is out now. I have bought a paperback copy and you should get one too. You can purchase the book here.

To read the reviews of the book by the other bloggers on the tour, please find their blog details below:

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About the Author

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Emma Hannigan was the No. 1 bestselling author of eleven novels including Letters to My Daughters, The Wedding Promise, The Perfect Gift, and The Summer Guest, as well as a memoir, All to Live For, which was about surviving an eleven year battle with cancer – facing cancer 10 separate times over the course of those years – and remaining strong, positive and warm. Very sadly, we have now lost Emma in the fight against cancer – she passed away at the end of February 2018.

The Gift of Friends went straight to number one on the bestseller lists in Ireland and has remained there ever since.

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Literary Tube Map of London (@inthebookwith) #bookishthings # booklovers #TheTube #London #LiteraryTubeMapOfLondon

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I have a really fun, bookish thing to share with today which immediately caught my eye when I first saw it doing the rounds on Twitter. Those lovely people at In The Book have replaced all of the stations on the iconic Tube map with famous London books, equating to their settings. So now, instead of navigating your way around London by the ordinary stations, you can pop your head above ground at the location of some of your favourite books. Which for literary nerds like me sounds perfect.

There are a huge range of books included, from literary classics to contemporary fiction, Charles Dickens to Sophie Kinsella via Martin Amis and Zadie Smith, there is something for everyone and every taste. I’m particularly taken with the idea of visiting the haunts of Bridget Jones, Mary Poppins and Nigel William’s hilarious suburban poisoner in Wimbledon.

Some authors have a bigger presence than others, as you can imagine. Charles Dickens features most heavily as you’d expect, with the locations of seven of his novels featured. If you’d like to have a look and see if any of your favourite London-based novels have made the cut, you can find a full-size copy of the map with zoom feature here.

In The Book kindly sent me some details about the map and what inspired it, here is what they had to say:

The map was designed to act as a definitive book tour of London for both locals and tourists. Literature has the wonderful ability to colour a certain area like nothing else, and while everyone recognises Baker Street as Sherlock’s home and can picture Scrooge skulking home from work in the City, the lesser known works are what helps make London’s literary history so diverse: wonderfully named titles such as “Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows” and “The Wimbledon Poisoner” are prime examples of this.

We also found it fascinating how certain genres and authors “owned” certain parts of the map: Dickens’ London dominates the Central Line, while gothic Victorian works Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray can be found haunting the Piccadilly Line. Zadie Smith takes the Jubilee Line to the northwest while Martin Amis is more prominent around West London.

I think this is a really lovely idea. Anyone who has seen the hordes queuing up at King’s Cross to have their photo taken with the trolley embedded in the wall at Platform 9 3/4 knows the power of visiting the setting of a favourite book, so I am sure there are lots of other people like me who might be bookmarking locations to visit on their next trip to London. Let me know in the comments below where you would go.

About the publishers

The creators of the map, In The Book are a publisher of personalised children’s books, established in Hertfordshire in 2017. Their passion is getting kids to read. They recognise books as not only worlds where one can lose themselves but as a means to develop cultural understandings, social skills and help us affect positive changes in the world around us.

Find them at:

Website: https://www.inthebook.com/en-gb/

Facebook: In The Book With

Twitter: @inthebookwith

 

One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot #BookReview #BlogTour (@mandybaggot) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #PublicationDay #NetGalley #OneLastGreekSummer

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Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls’ partied away their youth.

So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane…and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

Today is publication day for Mandy Baggot’s new book, One Last Greek Summer, and I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour to celebrate. Happy Publication Day, Mandy. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

You may or may not be aware, but I haven’t been able to read a book for five weeks. (If you are remotely interested in why, you can find out here) and this was the first book I picked up after my hiatus. What a delightful novel this was to ease myself back into the reading habit.

This is a sweet, gentle story of lost love, re-evaluating life and new beginnings and it was charming from start to finish. I loved the fact that this was not a book about twenty-somethings, but people slightly later on in life who have made mistakes, lived life a little and are making decisions based on experience and thought rather than impulse and dreams, although there is still some room for romance and dreams in the novel!

Set on the sun-drenched island of Corfu, the author does a wonderful job of transporting the reader into the heart of that beautiful place and surrounding them with all the sights, sounds and smells of Greece. I could almost smell the lemon groves and feel the sand between my toes. It really lifted my spirits after a trying period for me and I savoured every minute of it. This is the perfect book with which to kick off the summer holiday season.

There is nothing to dislike about the characters in this book. The heroine, Beth, is someone I connected with from the start of the book and I was fully invested throughout. Alex was attractive without being two-dimensional and I really believed in their romance and was willing them on. Heidi, Margalo and the goats provided a lot of fun throughout the book and the ‘villain’ was not really villainous to the point of caricature, which is sometimes the downfall of a romance novel, so all in all, this book was pretty perfect.

I thoroughly enjoyed One Last Greek Summer. It was easy reading from start to finish, well-paced throughout and the prose carried my through effortlessly. If someone is looking for a great, escapist read with a warming dose of romance and a really charming story, you won’t do better. I highly recommend it.

One Last Greek Summer is out now and you can buy a copy here.

This book is taking an extended tour, so make sure you check out the rest of the blogs taking part over the next few weeks:

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About the Author

Mandy Baggot

Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

Connect with Mandy:

Website: http://mandybaggot.com

Facebook: Mandy Baggot Author

Twitter: @mandybaggot

Instagram: @mandybaggot

 

Bell’s Palsy, Audiobooks & Gaining Perspective

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Hello, my friends! I know, it has been a while, did you miss me while I was gone? I hope so. I’m going to assume you did, and that you noticed I wasn’t posting for the last six weeks, otherwise all of this is a bit pointless, isn’t it?

So, I’m sure you are dying to know what kept me away from my beloved blog, and the fabulous book community. If you haven’t seen any of my brief social media posts, you won’t know that I have had Bell’s Palsy for the last month and a half, which has been a massive nuisance.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, here is a link to some information about Bell’s Palsy. When I woke up on the Tuesday morning after the Easter bank holiday weekend, the whole left side of my face was drooping down and I could not close my eye. My first thought was that I was having a stroke, it was absolutely terrifying. I immediately called an ambulance as I was home alone with my eleven-year-old daughter and I did not want her having to deal with me if I collapsed. As it was, it was really upsetting and frightening for her until my sister arrived. Luckily, she lives close by and the ambulance soon arrived, and they took great care of me. I was assessed quickly at the hospital who confirmed it wasn’t a stroke and I had Bell’s Palsy. They gave me steroids and sent me home, and then the most boring and frustrating six weeks of my life began.

I could not close my left eye at all, which meant I was constantly having to lubricate it with artificial tears, tape it closed at night and, unexpectedly, I could not drive, write or work on a screen, because trying to focus my eye on a screen or print for more than a minute or two made my vision blurry and gave me a headache. Worst of all, I couldn’t read. At all. For FIVE-AND-A-HALF WEEKS!

I haven’t gone five and a half days without reading for as long as I can remember, probably never, so this was an appalling situation. I did try and remind myself that at least I hadn’t had a stroke, and this would pass in time and that, for some people, this was their permanent reality and I was lucky, but this only worked some of the time. I missed it so much, it is such a central part of my daily life. I had blog tours scheduled that I had to pull out of, which I hated to have to do. I have a novel in progress that I had promised to my beta readers by mid-May which was laying unattended. I was so frustrated.

I turned to audiobooks, for which I was both grateful and disgruntled. I only normally listen to audiobooks while I am doing something else – driving, walking the dog, cleaning, washing up. Sitting and just listening to them didn’t quite work for me. They go by so slowly compared to how quickly I read. They kept sending me to sleep. I only managed to get through six-and-a-half in five weeks, when I would normally have read about 15-20 books in this time. I could actively FEEL my TBR mounting in the background, my blog shedding followers, people writing me off as a disappeared blogger. My timeline for my novel slipping away. Honestly, I know I sound moan-ey but it was awful. I’m so rubbish at being ill because I so rarely am and I normally try and ignore it, and I’m even worse at being unproductive. I’m usually someone who multi-tasks, so enforced periods of inactivity drive me mad. I was a terrible patient, but luckily I was just looking after myself so at least I didn’t bother anyone else with my general misery.

The good news is, I’m pretty much back to normal now. Back behind the wheel, back on the books and, at last, on the blog. I’m looking forward to catching up on all the reviews and blog posts I had to postpone, and my apologies to all the authors, blog tour hosts and guests that I had to disappoint. I promise I will catch up and reschedule as soon as I can.

Aside from moaning and complaining, I have used this time to reassess some of the things going on in my life and what is important. Not being able to read and blog has reinforced how central to my happiness these two things are. I realise that I have taken my usual good health for granted and this is not good. Things could have been very different if the diagnosis had been worse and I need to take the time and trouble to be fitter and healthier. To this end, I have started a new healthy eating plan and have lost 10 pounds so far, and have rejoined the gym to start getting fitter. I really appreciate my family, particularly my kids who have been so helpful and understanding about my inability to do much for the last six weeks, my partner, and my poor sister who had to do all of the school runs while I couldn’t drive. I am very lucky to have so much support.

I also found that, having not been able to work on my book for six weeks, I now know how much this matters to me. so, it is time to crack on and get this finished, albeit now on a delayed timetable. But life throws us obstacles and curveballs and we need to learn to roll with the punches, adapt and find a way to get back on track. I am taking the last six weeks as a chance to slow down, reassess, take stock and learn some lessons. Now it is onwards and upwards, and I am so glad to be back amongst you all. I missed you, even if you didn’t notice I was gone.

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