Big Birthday Giveaway! @stacey_halls @laurajm8 @MargaretAtwood @AlexMichaelides @hannahbeckerman @ConcreteKraken #Giveaway #BookBloggers #BookBlog #Birthday

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It’s my birthday! Well, it’s my blog’s birthday actually. Yes, three years ago today I posted my first ever blog post on A Little Book Problem. Where did that time go? And look how far I’ve come. I never would have guessed when I started this blog just to keep track of a reading challenge where it would end up or how much it would give me along the way.

In order to celebrate this milestone, I am going to be giving away a little prize (although, aren’t people supposed to give me presents on my birthday?) It seems to be one of the inevitable side effects of book blogging that I end up with duplicate copies of some fabulous books, and this year has been no different so, in the prize bundle are brand new, unread copies of the following books:

The Familiars by Stacey Halls (Hardback)

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In a time of suspicion and accusation, to be a woman is the greatest risk of all . . .

Fleetwood Shuttleworth is 17 years old, married, and pregnant for the fourth time. But as the mistress at Gawthorpe Hall, she still has no living child, and her husband Richard is anxious for an heir. When Fleetwood finds a letter she isn’t supposed to read from the doctor who delivered her third stillbirth, she is dealt the crushing blow that she will not survive another pregnancy.

Then she crosses paths by chance with Alice Gray, a young midwife. Alice promises to help her give birth to a healthy baby, and to prove the physician wrong.

As Alice is drawn into the witchcraft accusations that are sweeping the north-west, Fleetwood risks everything by trying to help her. But is there more to Alice than meets the eye?

Soon the two women’s lives will become inextricably bound together as the legendary trial at Lancaster approaches, and Fleetwood’s stomach continues to grow. Time is running out, and both their lives are at stake.

Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Friend Request by Laura Marshall

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Maria Weston wants to be friends with me.

Maybe that had been the problem all along: Maria Weston had wanted to be friends with me, but I let her down.

She’s been hovering at the edge of my consciousness for all of my adult life, although I’ve been good at keeping her out, just a blurred shadow in the corner of my eye, almost but not quite out of sight.

Maria Weston wants to be friends.

But Maria Weston has been dead for more than twenty-five years.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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‘I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.’

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.

(The edition being offered as a prize has a different cover to the one shown here.)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

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Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word.

It’s time to find out why.

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

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Audrey’s family has fallen apart. Her two grown-up daughters, Jess and Lily, are estranged, and her two teenage granddaughters have never been allowed to meet. A secret that echoes back thirty years has splintered the family in two, but is also the one thing keeping them connected.

As tensions reach breaking point, the irrevocable choice that one of them made all those years ago is about to surface. After years of secrets and silence, how can one broken family find their way back to each other?

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

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One body. Six stories. Which one is true?

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017.

Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame…

As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

As well as the books above, the prize bundle includes a voucher for an Italian meal for two at the Prezzo restaurant of your choice and an enamel book pin.

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All you have to do to win, is make sure you are following the blog, either by email, on WordPress or on Twitter and tell me what book you would send me as a surprise birthday gift.

Competition will be open until 31 January. UK entries only please. Winner will be chosen at random and announced here and on Twitter.  Prize will be posted out as soon as I receive the winner’s address. If the prize is not claimed within seven days, prize will be forfeited and I will chose a second recipient. No cash alternative is available.

Good luck, and thank you for supporting the blog, I do greatly appreciate it.

Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club @GoldsboroBooks @adamhamdy @AmyLloydWrites @LizMooreBooks #bookclub #firsteditions

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So, if you have been following my New Year posts, you will know that I have vowed not to buy any new books this year in an attempt to make some kind of dent in my out-of-control TBR, which is threatening to consume my house like one of those nightmare dwellings they visit on the TV hoarder shows, except hopefully a bit cleaner.

That being said, a bit like a smoker that needs nicotine patches to take the edge off giving up cold turkey, I knew I needed something to satiate my constant craving for new books while trying to cut back, and the solution I came up with was to join Goldsboro Books’ Book of the Month Club..

My rationale was that getting one beautiful, signed limited first edition title per month would be enough to keep me happy, as well as being a good investment in a possible future collectible title. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.)

I signed up in December, rather than wait for January, because I really wanted the lush special edition of Black 13 by Adam Hamdy, which was the December Book of the Month. I also got a signed copy of The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd as a free gift. Both books are numbered copies of first editions and came packaged beautifully and carefully, like the precious items they are. Watch out for reviews coming soon.

I am currently waiting for delivery of the January Book of the Month, which is Long Bright River by Liz Moore. Watch out on the blog for reviews of this and the future monthly titles.

Desert Island Books #bookblogger #bookblogging #amreading #readinggoals

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After my dismal failure to keep up with this last year, I am going to have another stab at introducing this new feature called Desert Island Books.

The premise is fairly simple and not particularly cryptic, the title says it all. I will be revealing and reviewing the twelve books that I would take with me, should I be stranded alone forever on a desert island. One per month throughout the coming year. I’ll tell you what it is I particularly love about them; why they are books that I can read over and over again without getting bored and why they would be my ideal forever companions.

To be honest, the feature is really just an excuse for me to reread some of my favourite books of all time and share them with you, but it is also an interesting exercise. Could you narrow down the twelve books that you could bear to read over and over again in perpetuity without getting sick of them? Would you take books you have been meaning to read for years and never had time to tackle (risky if you end up hating them!) Old favourites to keep you company (but would you ruin them for yourself if you had to read them forever?) A mixture of old and new? What genres? Fiction or non-fiction? Food for the mind or the heart? Uplifting? Challenging? Comforting? Scary?

There is probably a psychological profile in our choices somewhere!

I will be reading one of my twelve picks per month and reviewing it on the last day of the month but, as a precursor, I thought I would reveal the thirteen books which made it on to the shortlist but fell at the final cut. A sneak peek of what is to come maybe.

I hope you will enjoy a little glimpse this year into some of my favourite books of all time and the kind of literature I would choose to read on a daily basis if I never got to pick up a new book again, and I’d love it if you’d like to share your own Desert Island Books with me, either in the comments here or on your own blogs with a link back.

So here are books 13 to 25 on the list of books I’d take to a desert island. The ones that didn’t quite make it on to the life raft with me, but over which I would weep as they sank beneath the waves.

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Jamaica Inn  by Daphne du Maurier

I love du Maurier’s books, and it was a toss up between this and Rebecca, but in the end I think this is my favourite just because it is such a marvellous combination of wild adventure story, mystery and romance, and perfectly captures the isolation and cruel beauty of the north Cornish coast and moors, and it fills me with the same thrill and dread every time I read it as it did the first time. And the heroine, Mary Yelland, really has some gumption!

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Rivals by Jilly Cooper

I would say Jilly Cooper’s books were my guilty pleasure except I don’t feel remotely guilty about loving her. Her novels are great fun, and written so tongue-in-cheek that you can’t be snobby about them. Rivals is my absolute favourite of her books because this is when Rupert Campbell-Black redeems himself  and becomes worthy of the love of the gorgeous Taggie, plus it has a hunky Irishman in it. The ultimate beach read.

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Oh, how it has broken my heart to jettison Wuthering Heights and if I could have squeezed one more book under my life vest, this would have been it. However, when it came down to balancing the twelve books I was going to be reading repeatedly forever alone on a desert island, I decided that this bleak tale of destructive love may just be too depressing to keep my spirits up, and I chose another classic love story that was not doomed to end so badly, as you will see.

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The Russia House by John le Carre

The perfect spy thriller, for me. I fell in love with Barley Blair the first time I read this book, and it is a love that has endured. A reluctant and damaged man finds himself in a situation he is ill-equipped to deal with, and it has another doomed love story at its heart (I’m sensing a pattern developing!)

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Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I’m going to make a controversial statement now – I have always preferred Through The Looking Glass to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I’m not sure I can explain why. Maybe it is because it hasn’t been done to death in movies, but for me it has a more interesting premise (a giant game of chess), better characters (the contrasting Red and White Queens) or the really imaginative writing (the Bread-and-Butterfly and Rocking Horsefly, with attendant illustrations, appealed, and still do appeal, to my childish heart). One of my favourite childhood books that takes me back to the days when my love of reading started and will always have a place in my heart.

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The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman

One of my favourite ever historical novels and the root of my abiding fascination with Richard III. Before Philippa Gregory, Sharon Penman was my go to author for history told through fiction and this book gives a detailed glimpse into the life of Britain’s most controversial monarch from a different perspective. This was one of the first books that taught me that people can have different interpretations of historical ‘facts’ and that perspectives can be questioned. Plus the writing is vivid and beguiling.

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A Room With A View by E. M. Forster

I love to read novels that take me to foreign soil and this is the ultimate in travel literature. I defy anyone to read this book and not want to book a flight to Florence immediately. And the writing is sublime. Gorgeous, but as I’ll be having an overseas adventure of my own, I have very reluctantly let it go.

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A Time To Kill by John Grisham

I love a legal thriller and courtroom drama and, regardless of what you think of him personally, Grisham is the king of the genre. A Time To Kill was his first book and he would probably be horrified to know that I don’t believe he has bettered it. This book has everything, tight plotting, action and a moral dilemma to wrestle with. Is killing ever justified? Even though I have read this many times, it still keeps me on the edge of my seat.

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Staying On by Paul Scott

Whilst Paul Scott is more famous for writing the Raj Quartet, including The Jewel in the Crown, it was Staying On that won him the Booker Prize in 1977 and I think it is easy to see why. The story of Tusker and Lucy, trying to hang on to their old life in India after independence as the world around them changes faster than they can keep up, will break your heart. Actually, I’m not sure I can leave this one behind after all.

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The Harry Potter Series

I doubt this needs any explanation. The rich world that J.K. Rowling has built around Harry Potter would be the ideal thing to stave off boredom and loneliness on a desert island. I know taking all 7 may be classed as cheating so, if you twisted my arm, I would choose Goblet of Fire as my favourite.

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The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

There are historical novels, and then there is the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel. Set at the time where Homo Sapiens first starts to walk the planet, her books give a fascinating glimpse into how our ancestors came to be and became the dominant species against the backdrop of an extreme landscape. This is the first book in the series, and sets modern man in direct comparison to the species that came before. The way the story is told is a fascinating method of illustrating the history of this period and the level of detail in the books is mind-blowing. It is obvious Auel did copious research, but this is fed into the books appropriately and seamlessly. These books are a stupendous achievement.

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Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene

Another story about a hapless and unwitting stooge who is co-opted into espionage by circumstances outside of his control. However, unlike the le Carre book, Our Man in Havana has a thread of wit and humour running through it that just makes it a joy to read. The thought of James Wormold and his enlarged vacuum cleaner parts never fails to raise a smile. The fact that Greene himself worked for the intelligence services before writing this book adds a frisson of credibility to the plot and the setting of Cuba is another attraction. A perennial favourite.

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The Bafut Beagles by Gerald Durrell

Everyone is familiar with Gerald Durrell’s book, My Family and Other Animals, detailing the years of his childhood spent in Corfu with his eccentric family, but fewer are familiar with the rest of his vast body of writing. However, as a child I was obsessed with the books he wrote detailing his collecting expeditions and his life at his conservation trust and zoo in Jersey and I read them all, over and over. We never travelled abroad when I was young, and these books were my first gateway to a host of impossibly remote and alien countries in Africa and South America, and hundreds of exotic animals that I had never heard of before. These books fuelled my obsession with travelling, as Durrell’s writing is so descriptive and enticing. The Bafut Beagles, detailing his 1949 trip to Cameroon, was my favourite and, although I would like to take his whole collection to the island with me, if I had to choose one it would be this. However, there isn’t any room on the raft, so I’ll have to be my own naturalist on my desert island.

So, these are the thirteen that didn’t quite make it. Join me on 31 January for the unveiling of the first of the books that are in the top twelve.

Merry ‘Twixmas! Looking back, looking forward @TheFictionCafe @RNATweets @lord_dodo @moleskine #RomanticNovelistsAssociation #NewWritersScheme #bookblogger #bookbloggers #bookblog #amreading #amwriting #readinggoals #writinggoals #blogginggoals

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It’s a funny time of year, isn’t it, the week between Christmas and New Year? No one knows what day of the week it is or what they should be doing. Everything seems to come to a standstill, the world taking a breath between the excitement of Christmas past and the promise of the new year yet to come. A great time for a bit of introspection, muse on the year past, plan for the one about to start.

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That’s what I have been doing the past couple of days, anyway. My girls were staying with their dad, the Irishman flew off to Dublin for a few days with his parents, I had the house to myself and some time for contemplation and organisation. I tidied up the Christmas detritus, got out my new diary and calendar ready to fill with blogging and writing goals for the year ahead, and had a think about what I want to achieve and how I’m going to do it.

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2019 was a very busy year on the blog. I did loads of blog tours, read a massive 165 books in total. Friday Night Drinks grew in popularity and I had some great guests and I increased my following. On the downside, my TBR grew ever more massive and out of control, I neglected the travel and writing areas of my blog and failed miserably to complete my two reading challenges because I over-faced myself with blog tour commitments and could not devote as much time as I wanted to free reading. My NetGalley backlog also grew to the point where I got turned down for a couple of books because of my abysmal ratio. Something needs to be done.

So, bearing all of this in mind, what lies in store for 2020 and what are my plans?

My Friday Night Drinks and Tempted by… features are both fully booked and planned to June, so they will be carrying on as before. I will be setting my Goodreads Reading Challenge target at 150 again, with the hope that I can exceed it as I have the last two years. I have decided against doing any other external reading challenges, as I don’t need the pressure. Instead, I will make a second attempt at doing my Desert Island Books (more detail on that to come in January.) I am also determined to be more diligent with the Travel, Bucket List and Writing areas of my blog and have diaried in some regular features for these. I’m looking forward to getting a bit more variety in to the blog.

In an attempt to get some control over my NetGalley ratio and TBR, I have decided to go back to the original aim of the blog as set out in my first ever blog post and buy no new books in 2020, or request any more from NetGalley. I’ll just be reading the ones I already have. Unfortunately, these means cutting right back on blog tours to free up reading time. I’m limiting myself to a maximum of two per month after January and February (where I have already committed to more than two!). I am allowing myself to receive my one Book Club book each month, and spend my monthly Audible credit. I have a few books on pre-order which I will let stand. Other than that, I’ll not be buying anything new, but reviewing what I already have, as randomly selected from my book jar. I’m actually looking forward to the challenge. I got a few book-themed Christmas gifts to see me on my way too.

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(Fear not, dear authors with books being published in 2020, I will be making a list ready for when the ban is lifted!)

I had a bit of an epiphany back in the spring when I had Bell’s Palsy and could not read for six weeks due to issues with my left eye. I had always been a little snobby about audiobooks not being ‘proper reading’ and had never counted them in my reading totals. Well, I have to say, audiobooks were my lifeline during those long boring days of illness and now I am as zealous a convert as St. Paul on the road to Damascus. I am listening to them at every opportunity and, in fact, my favourite book of the year was consumed in audio format. So, in 2020, I will be listening to even more audiobooks and reviewing more of them on my blog.

After a couple of lax months at the end of the year, I also plan on making sure I review every book I read or listen to next year (unless I hate it) and being more engaged with other people’s blogs in the new year.

On the writing front, I’m back in the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme for the third year, and I am determined that this is the year that I start submitting my book to agents and publishers. I’m planning on attending some RNA events again this year, including conference in July, so I hope to share some of that journey with you. My very kind and wise friends have supplied me with some lovely Christmas gifts to help me along, including this gorgeous Story Box gift from my lovely friend Mary-Louise and a Smithson notebook from the Irishman (a hint to get the book finished, perhaps?)

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As far as travel goes, I currently have nothing booked, which is unusual, but I have last year’s trips still to share and I am sure there will be things planned soon, so watch this space!

All in all, I am excited for the coming year, and all that it is going to bring for me, and for the blog. I hope you will continue on this journey with me, share the highs and the lows and, most of all, the book love. After all, it is fairly meaningless without all of you. Thanks for being here and

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Top Ten Books of 2019 (@AuthorSusanB @tgarvisgraves @MrsAmandaProwse @anne_atkins @Jessica_Norrie @will_carver @JenniKeer @writercrow @LouiseWriter @charliemackesy @ajpearcewrites) @ocelotpress @orionbooks @malcomdown @OrendaBooks @AvonBooksUK @AtlanticBooks @AllenAndUnwinUK @picadorbooks @EburyPublishing @RaRaResources @Tr4cyF3nt0n @LoveBooksGroup @annecater

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It’s that time of year again, when I try to narrow down my favourite books from the 165 I read in 2019 to just ten. The task hasn’t got any easier, I loved so many of the books I read this year, but these are the ones I am recommending as the most rewarding of the bunch. These are the books that entertained me, challenged me, moved me and, ultimately, stayed with me long after I had turned the final page.

The books don’t have to have been published in 2019, just be ones that I have read for the first time this year. Here we go:

= 10. The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard

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(Okay, so I failed miserably at the first hurdle and could not narrow it down from 11. So sue me!)

=10 The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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9. The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse

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8. An Elegant Solution by Anne Atkins

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7. The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norris

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6. Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

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5. The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer

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4. The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

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3. Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

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2. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

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  1. Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce

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So there we go, those are my choices of my favourite reads of 2019. Do you approve or are you currently screaming at your screen in rage at my dire reading tastes? Please feel free to engage me in debate. Have you read and enjoyed any of my choices or will you be adding them to your 2020 reading list? Let me know. What were your top reads of 2019?

 

 

 

An Appeal on behalf of my local community @JimReRead #SouthYorkshireFloods #Doncaster #DoncasterFloods

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I have never done a post like this before on the blog, but I cannot have a platform and not use it to make an appeal on behalf of my fellow Doncastrians after the disaster that my home town has suffered this week.

Any of my readers who live in the UK cannot have failed to see the news about the devastating floods which have swept Doncaster over the last week. Local communities have been devastated, homes destroyed, lives blighted. Many people have lost everything. For some of them, this is the second time in the last twelve years that their homes have been destroyed by floods. Many no longer have insurance to cover their losses. 1,000 homes have been affected so far, and more rain is falling as we speak, so yet more may be hit.

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The main village affected is only 5 miles from my house, it is a terrible thing to see. Each of us must think, ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’

The only positive to come from this terrible situation is to see how the local communities in Doncaster are rallying round to help each other and now, I am reaching out to my wider community, to see if you can help the people who have been so badly affected by this terrible disaster.

If you are able to give a little, South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation have set up a disaster relief appeal to help the people affected. You can find the appeal’s JustGiving page here. Any tiny amount you can spare would be greatly appreciated and will go a long way to get people back on the road to recovery.

On a more personal note, I would like to reach out to the bookish community of which I am a member on behalf of a cause close to my heart. Re-Read is a social enterprise initiative in Doncaster which collects unwanted books and sells them to raise money in order to distribute new books to children, schools and other organisations around Doncaster to bring reading and books to people who might otherwise not have access to them. They also provide work placements for people who are long-term unemployed.This is the place to which I donate all my books when I have finished with and I think they are a magnificent cause.

Unfortunately, during Thursday night’s floods, Re-Read’s warehouse was flooded, their staff had to be rescued and they have lost their stock of 100,000 books. This is particularly devastating at this time of year when they are preparing for their Christmas children’s book giveaway. They have pretty much lost everything.

If there is anyone who is part of the bookish community who can help get this marvellous organisation get back on their feet, this would be greatly appreciated. They have set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise funds to replace some of their lost equipment and stock, which you can find here. The other way to help, is through donations of books, new or used, that they can sell to raise money to carry on their book giveaways for children this Christmas, or of new books that can themselves been given to the children. I will be taking four crates of books to drop off for them tomorrow, which represent all the stock I keep for replenishing my community free library, and am happy to coordinate collection and delivery of any other books that anyone may be able to send to help out.

If anyone can help with book donations, please feel free to email me at julie@alittlebookproblem.co.uk or via my contact page here, or via Twitter where I am @book_problem and we will organise how this can be achieved.

Thank you for any help you can give us …. from the people of Doncaster.

Tempted by….Jen Med’s Book Reviews: Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @JenMedBkReviews @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #Trap #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one…and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all…Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

So, around a year ago, I launched a series highlighting books that I have been enticed to buy by reading reviews by my fellow bloggers, after the efficacy of book bloggers in prompting book sales was called in to question.

I know that book bloggers are effective at generating sales for authors because, since I started blogging and reading more reviews by my fabulous fellow bloggers, I have been tempted to buy more and more books, to the extent that I have had to buy three new bookcases in the last year and my Kindle is over-flowing.

The series stalled earlier in the year due to health issues, but I have decided to resurrect it, as I still had a lot of inspiring bloggers on my list when it faltered, and have been tempted by even more in the interim. I apologise that some of the posts referenced are quite old, but rest assured that all the bloggers featured are still active and still writing fantastic reviews to guide us in our book buying choices, so do check out their blogs for up to date content.

The first book and blog featured in this revised series is the utterly marvellous Jen Med’s Book Reviews and this review of Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir, the second book in her Reykjavik Noir trilogy. Actually, Jen’s review now only inspired me to buy Trap, but also the first book in the series, Snare and I am looking forward to finishing off the trilogy with Lilja’s new book, Cagewhich is out next month.

I love the detail in Jen’s review, which gives you a taste of the book and all the salient points that are going to draw you in to the book, but she manages to do it without giving away any spoilers. This is a real skill for a book blogger and one that Jen displays in all of her reviews. As someone who is quite verbose in her own reviews, I love a detailed blog post and the fact that Jen is a no nonsense but enthusiastic blogger makes her reviews ones that I always take the trouble to read because I know I am going to get the truth of how good or not a book is, with no flannel or waffle.

Jen has a lot of other good stuff on her blog, especially in her weekly wrap ups, and I always get the feeling that I am getting to know a genuine person here, rather than just an anonymous person behind a keyboard. This is important when you are trying to work out if someone is going to be on your wavelength when it comes to book tastes. She is also a huge supporter of other bloggers and active member of the blogging community and I would highly recommend her blog as one that avid book lovers should be following. She has access to all the good stuff! Make sure you check out her blog here.

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir is available now in paperback here, along with the preceding title, Snare, which you can get by following this link. The final book in the trilogy, Cage, will be published on 17 October and you can pre-order it here.

 

The Chase BookFest with Phillipa Ashley & Kim Nash @PhillipaAshley @KimTheBookworm #authors #BookFest #September #Event #CannockChase #Staffordshire #Readers #Writers

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Authors Phillipa Ashley and Kim Nash have joined forces with the Museum of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, to create a book festival where book lovers are invited to meet some of the UK’s most popular authors.

The Chase BookFest will be held at the Museum of Cannock Chase, Valley Road, Hednesford on Saturday 21 September 2019.

The event is Cannock Chase’s first book festival devoted to women’s popular fiction and thrillers. It has attracted a host of star names including Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley, Miranda Dickinson, Iona Grey, Nicola May, Mark Edwards and many more best-selling and award-winning popular novelists. 

Readers will be able to enjoy author readings and join in question and answer sessions and discussions with favourite writers from the local area and further afield.

They can even have tea with an author by booking onto ‘Tea and Conversation’ audiences with Sunday Times best sellers Milly Johnson in conversation with Cathy Bramley, Romantic Novel Awards winner Iona Grey, best-selling crime thriller writer K.L. Slater and number one best-selling novelist Mark Edwards.

A pop-up Waterstones book shop will be on site for the day along with a variety of book and craft stalls and a unique book-themed ‘Yarnbombing’ display outside. 

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Bestselling author Phillipa Ashley said: “The support for previous events shows how much popular fiction is loved by readers.  We’re thrilled that the Museum has been so supportive of this event and of fiction in general.” 

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Author and Head of Publicity at publisher Bookouture, Kim Nash said: “We’ve been so lucky to get so many amazing authors on board and would love to thank them all for being so enthusiastic about the festival.’ 

Lee Bellingham, Museum Services Manager for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, said: “The museum has been hosting very popular ‘Meet the Author’ events for some time now, and along with local authors Phillipa Ashley, Kim Nash and the book loving members of staff, we thought it would be lovely to have a book festival here. We are thrilled to be the venue for the first ever Chase BookFest.

Events like this showcase the museum not just as a home for local history, but as a community venue for arts and cultural activities. We look forward to welcoming authors from around the country to Cannock Chase for the day.”

The day runs 10am until 4pm with tickets available for £3 by calling the museum on 01543 877 666. Tea and Conversation with an author costs £5 and includes tea or coffee and cake, and Q&A Panels cost £3.  Don’t miss the chance to meet your favourite author, book in advance to avoid disappointment.   Please see the museum Facebook page and website, museumofcannockchase.org, for timetables and start planning your BookFest!

book fest time table (002) updated 29-8-19

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

 

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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