Weirdness, writing and what comes next…


Hello, all! I’m back!… What, you didn’t notice I was gone?… Well, that’s a bit embarrassing!

Joking aside, I know the blog and my social media have been a little on the quiet side since the beginning of December. There has been so much going on outside of the blogging world that I had to cut things back to the absolute minimum, doing only what I had made deadline promises to do. So, huge apologies to everyone that is waiting for me to do book reviews with no date set, I will catch up I promise, if you just bear with me.


So what has been going on? Nothing very extraordinary, just general life getting in the way. House plans with my partner and our complicated living arrangements which needed attention but have since gone awry. Extended family issues that sucked up a lot of time and emotional energy. Things going on with my kids that needed supervision (all in a good way though). Christmas. Future plans. Basically, life just got really busy and I didn’t have any spare time or energy to expend on blogging the way I usually do. Even my reading slowed down dramatically, it’s been taking me five or six days to get through a book that would normally take me two or three.


And things have generally been a bit weird and chaotic, haven’t they? I mean, what is going on with the world? I’m 50 this year and I don’t remember everything being this messed up and unstable ever before. It’s making me antsy and unfocused, which hasn’t helped matters. I can’t seem to settle and apply myself to things the way I normally would, my mind is mayfly-restless which is making it hard to get anything done. Then, being behind on tasks I’ve set myself makes me anxious and self-critical, which exacerbates the problem. And don’t even get me started on the mad, hormonal upheavals of the peri-menopause. I’m basically just a study in chaos at the moment, which is an abnormal and uncomfortable situation for a Type-A personality like me to find themselves in.

Anyway, enough with the blithering and moaning, I’m finally getting stuff back on track. Reviews are ramping up again, and I’ve got some absolutely fantastic titles coming up on the TBR that I can’t wait to share with you. I’m back on social media and I’ve got bit plans for the rest of the year, which I’ll be sharing with you all here on the blog. I’m also going to try and expand the blog to include more non-review posts – like in the old days – just to mix it up a bit.


First up, I’m delighted to be helping celebrate the Romantic Novel Awards 2022, presented to the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The awards will be presented on 7 March in a lavish ceremony in London, with winners crowned in ten different categories. To champion and promote the awards, I will be running a special series of my Friday Night Drinks feature every night for the next month, with the majority of the shortlisted authors taking part. The first guest, Sarah Mallory, is on the blog tonight, so make sure you check back for that.


I’ve got a couple of new business projects on the horizon that are publishing related that I can’t wait to tell you all about when I can, although mum is the word on those for now, and I’m hoping to share some of my writing progress with you too – always supposing there is any. That is something that has also taken a back seat over the recent, turbulent months but I’m planning on changing that.


So that’s it, you are up to date with everything in Book Problem-land, I hope you will come back and see what is going on as the year progresses.



A New Blogging Year, What Will It Bring For A Little Book Problem?


I’m a bit late with my Happy New Year/ blogging intentions post. After all, it’s the sixth of January, we are almost a week in. This is very unlike me, I am a Type-A, anal, organised, get-it-done-on-day-one type.

This is deliberate, and indicative of how I intend the year to proceed. My main intention (not resolution, not making any of those this year. They are just pressure, I never end up keeping them, then I feel guilty. It’s a whole big hiding to failure from Day One) is just to cut myself some slack this year, particularly when it comes to blogging. I’m just going to ease up, take a step back and stop putting so much pressure on myself to do things a certain way or measure up to a certain ideal. This is supposed to be a fun hobby, not another set of obligations and I’m planning on returning to that mindset. Fewer deadlines, more doing what I feel like doing.

We all know 2020 was a pretty dire year for so many reasons, and there were times where it was really hard going. It was books that saved me much of the time, and I read more in a year than I ever have before – 186 books in total. There were other times though, when I had taken on too many blog tours, was reading books because I HAD to, rather than wanted to, and felt obliged to review them on a certain date, that it just added to the stress, rather than relieving me of it. As we kick off 2021 in yet another lockdown, I’m determined that won’t happen again.

I still intend to carry on blogging fully, and have lots of things planned for the blog (more on that below), but some things I am going to be doing differently. Less reading to a timetable and more free reading. Fewer blog tours but more trying to engage authors and promote books in other ways (although I’ve not made a great start with this for January – oops!). Putting the fun back into blogging and making it feel less like an obligation, which it can become if you over-commit. When this happens, the authors aren’t getting the best of me, so I think we will all benefit.

All of my blog features – Friday Night Drinks, Desert Island Books and Romancing The Romance Authors – will continue, and I’m currently dreaming up new ones to work on. I’ll be doing some blog tours, but a maximum of two per month from March onwards. I am still open to approaches for non-time-critical reviews and guest posts from authors and publishers, so please don’t feel afraid to approach me. I am sure there will be something I can do for you in most circumstances.

I’ve set my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal at 120 for the year, which isn’t too much pressure. I had a lot of fun with my personal Desert Island Books last year, so I will be continuing that this year with my Desert Island Children’s Books. The introductory post for that is going up on Saturday, so please follow along. I’m also attempting the Fiction Cafe Book Club Reading Challenge again, and I am determined to see that through to the end this year for the first time. Here are the prompts, if anyone is interested in joining in.


I’m planning on concentrating more on my writing this year. I am on the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme for another year and have two manuscripts on the go. I am enrolled in Sophie Hannah’s Dream Author Coaching programme, and I’m determined that this is the year I really kick my writing ambitions in to gear. Maybe some day soon I’ll be on the other side of someone’s book review blog. That’s my dream.

20th January marks the fourth anniversary of my first post on A Little Book Problem. I can’t believe how far I have come in that time. Over 700 posts and 7,000+ followers across all platforms. Site views doubling year on year and now, thanks to the RNA, award-winning. It’s so much more than I ever imagined when I typed that first, tentative post four years ago. To celebrate, I’m going to be doing a huge giveaway, so watch this space for details coming up next week.

I’m hoping for a happier, healthier new year for all of us in 2021. I know we aren’t off to the best start, but I’m hoping brighter days are on the horizon. The time will come when we can all get together in person again, hug and laugh and celebrate in the sunshine. In the meantime, I am so grateful that I have books, and the wonderful camaraderie of the bookish community, to see me through. Thank you all for your support, and I look forward to sharing more book love with you over the coming months.

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Has Anyone Seen My Mojo? #writingcommunity

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What is going on at the moment? I have completely lost my writing mojo and I have no idea where it is gone or how to get it back!

Since mid-September I have really had no desire to write, either on the blog or on either of my novel WIPs. Every day I keep getting up, determined that today will be the day that I power through some book reviews and do at least a thousand words on my novel, and every day I find twenty different projects that ‘need’ attention as the perfect way to procrastinate on the writing front. It is very frustrating because I don’t know why it has happened.

Normally in September I have that ‘back-to-school’ feeling, an excitement for a new period of opportunity, and I’m geared up and ready to go. I’ve written about this phenomenon on the blog before here. But I’m just not feeling it this year. I am in the doldrums, unmotivated on the writing front, and I don’t know why. Is it a coronavirus side effect? Is it because this year hasn’t felt like a normal year? Because this autumn doesn’t feel like a season full of possibility, but the beginning of a long, dark winter with more misery and further restrictions? I don’t know but it is bothering me and I don’t know how to snap out of it.

This is only affecting my writing, not my reading. My reading mojo is operating on steroids. I am about to hit my Goodreads reading challenge goal of 150 books with 11 weeks to go, so I could well hit the 200 mark this year. Problem is, I don’t feel any compulsion to write reviews. I now have a backlog of 12 books waiting for review, some of which I absolutely LOVED and have many things to say, but I keep putting off writing them. What is wrong with me? I can only bring myself to do the posts I have promised other people that I will do by way of blog tours and author features. My Instagram game has also fallen off. I had really got in to posting beautiful bookstagram pictures daily earlier in the year but recently I just don’t have the desire or energy.

Whatever is causing this lethargy, I need to snap out of it, it is dragging me down. I love my blog and I don’t want its appeal to drop off. NaNo is looming and I need to summon some writing mojo from somewhere. My lovely writing group, the Bar Babes, are all enthusiasm and are surging ahead with their projects, I am being left behind and it is depressing me. So, lovely readers and fellow writers, do you have any words of wisdom or handy tips for me? Useful insights? Strategies? I’ll take magic beans at this point, to be honest. Has this happened to you and how did you snap out of it?

I need my writing mojo back!

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Blogging in a Time of Coronavirus & a severe case of Can’tBeArsed-itis


Hi guys. Hope everyone is keeping well and staying safe, whatever the situation is where you are. What a strange time we are living through.

I know the blog has been really quiet lately and I can only apologise. It’s not just been the blog either. All my social media, participation in Facebook groups, WhatsApp chats, online friends and family meets – I haven’t really been doing any of it. Truth is, I’ve been suffering for the last month from a severe case of Can’tBeArsed-itis.

It hasn’t been quite as bad as the photo above suggests. I haven’t been laying motionless face down on the sofa (with my shoes on? Who does that? What are we, savages?). I’ve actually been really busy. I’ve just been doing it all within the confines of my home and garden.

When lockdown first started, I was like everyone else. Chatting with friends and family on Zoom, probably more than I did pre-quarantine. Taking part in loads of online challenges and chats. Blogging and Instagramming up a storm. Then I had a little accident and gave myself quite a severe burn on my hand which necessitated a trip to A&E late one Friday night. (The absolute last place I wanted to go at the height of a pandemic and it was as awful as I expected. If anything convinced me how completely unlike normal life is, it was that trip to A&E on a Friday night. It was an eerie, zombie-apocalypse-movie-like experience.) As a result, my left hand was completely bandaged for a week and I had to type one-handed, which brought blogging and writing to a grinding halt and, even as I gradually got the use of it back, my mojo seemed to have disappeared.


Back in February, I took the decision to cut right back on blog tours for the spring and summer to try and get through my NetGalley backlog, so luckily I had few commitments that needed meeting and I could embrace my lack of enthusiasm for blogging for a while. (I wonder now if I had some weird premonition. I also wound up my travel business in Autumn 2018 because I had a bad feeling about where the industry was headed, and I’ve never been so glad about a decision in my life now. Spooky!) Instead, I have been focused solely on myself and my daughters and our life at home.


I’ve been quite lucky on the homeschooling front as my daughters’ school are providing real time lessons for them as per their normal timetables via Google Classroom. However, this has still necessitated constant interaction, especially for my 12-year-old who is very gregarious, is missing her school friends desperately, and has co-opted me into the role of new best friend. For someone who is used to working from home and spending many hours by themselves every day, being on constant call is mentally draining. Honestly, I always had a lot of respect for teachers (my sister is one) but now my admiration knows no bounds. The strain is exacerbated by the fact of being a single parent, solely responsible for all of this as well as running the house and all the attendant tasks that go with it (oh, the endless dishwasher emptying and re-stacking…). After spending hours explaining the difference between direct and representative democracy, analysing Beatrice’s role as a woman in ‘Much Ado About Nothing,’ timing circuit training exercises and playing netball for PE lessons, searching for photos of the friezes on Trajan’s Arch, dissecting the contrast between socialist and capitalist viewpoints in ‘An Inspector Calls’ (which I had to read first), to be honest, I’ve had little brain space left for any intelligent commentary on the books I’ve been reading. It’s also almost impossible to concentrate on anything when you know there is a strong possibility of being interrupted any second. (My daughter required my help three times just during the course of typing this blog post.) To all you parents who are doing all of this whilst trying to hold down your normal full-time job in this abnormal environment as well, I salute you, I have no idea how you are doing it.


Instead, the girls and I have been doing lots of fun stuff together. Playing badminton and giant Jenga in the garden. Walking our dog in the fields behind our house. Baking up a storm, making our own pizzas, having cooking lessons. Building Hogwarts Castle from Lego. Doing jigsaws. Sharing TV shows we love. I’ve been introduced to Riverdale and Brooklyn 99 and my daughters are now being spoonfed Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning. It’s been great fun spending proper, quality time with my girls. They are growing up so fast, savouring this time with them is something I will remember as a positive once this is over.


Basically, over the last month, I’ve pulled my head and tail into my shell like a turtle and shut off the outside world. I guess it’s been a form of self-preservation. The constant negative news, combined with missing family and friends, was dragging me down so I withdrew from it all. And I don’t think I’m the only one. I saw on Twitter some other bloggers discussing the fact that their page views and follower numbers were up, but interactions on the blog were down. I think maybe people are looking for content to consume while they are stuck at home, but the constant need to interact in the virtual world has become draining. I read a fascinating article about why this may be the other day. It suggested that it just reminds us of what we are missing in real life, a momento mori of the lives we had before which are not going to be the same again for a long while. This certainly resonated with me.


Anyway, I now have a massive backlog of reviews to do, so I’m making a concerted effort to get out of this funk and back into the real world. But for anyone who just doesn’t feel like blogging at the moment, don’t beat yourself up. The world is topsy turvy and we all need to do what we gotta do to stay sane and get through. We’re all adjusting to our new normal, and are doing the best we can. And, if all else fails, there’s always Buffy.


Take care and stay safe.

Let’s Talk About #Bookstagram #tipsneeded #bookbloggers #bookblog #bookblogging #instagram #helpme #advicewanted

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So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bookstagram lately. I’ve noticed more and more requests for Instagram tours hitting my inbox. Anne Cater mentioned in a post a week or so ago that publishers were starting to look for minimum numbers of followers on Twitter and Insta for people taking part in their blog tours. I am enjoying and envying other people’s lovely book posts on my Instagram feed. My Instagram feed is sad and limp and neglected; I could never take part in an Instagram tour of a book using my currently tragic and slapdash efforts.

I decided more effort was required in the area of Instagram if I want to grow my blog. Plus, who doesn’t like looking at beautiful photos, especially of books? And I thought it might be an interesting creative outlet as an alternative to all my current, word-related hobbies.

So I started reading some posts about how to create a lovely bookstagram feed and, wow! I came away feeling simultaneously impressed, daunted and confused. I have more questions than answers and decided to reach out to you, my bookish colleagues for help. I am calling on your wisdom and experience to help me figure out how to improve my Instagram game with the limited time and talent at my disposal. I am begging you for any advice, tips and tricks you have to offer that have worked for you.


Firstly, how important is Instagram in the current world of book blogging, especially for those of us who have not hit the heady heights of the top ranks? I have read that Instagram is now the fastest-growing and most influential platform, but does it drive traffic to your blog? Are you finding you are getting more interaction in general and on your blog if you are active on Bookstagram? What I am asking is, do you find it is worth the effort?

Secondly, I read a lot about the importance of a theme and consistency so that your feed looks curated and your grid is balanced and, if I look at some of my favourite bookstagram feeds, I can see how this works.

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This one always has very busy and interesting pictures in muted tones.

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A lot of you will recognise Cait’s feed with her bright colours and lots of flowers.

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All of the photos on this one have a sepia wash.

I looked at my feed and realised my theme was ‘Busy, middle-aged woman who takes random photos that she posts sporadically and can’t be arsed with filters.’ Not sure this is a heart-winner as far as themes go. So, how much time and thought do you all put in to your overall feed to be successful? I have read that people spend 3-4 hours A DAY curating their instagram feed. I mean, there is just no way on earth that this is a possibility for me with all the other commitments I have going on (these must all be young people with no children, remember those days?). How little time can you reasonably spend on Instagram and it still be worth it? If I just do one photo (which I have not spend 3 hours staging, taking and editing), can I still have a reasonable insta following?

What are the best things to post? What do you like to look at on bookstagram? Does an insta feed just have to be books or are other things interesting to you as well? How often do you post?

What about your reviews? Do you post your whole reviews on Instagram and does that get a good response? I had toyed with the idea of posting a photo and an abbreviated review on Instagram rather than the whole thing, but will people visit the blog to read the whole thing? There is just so much to think about!

Hashtags. How many to use? Which ones are best? Where do you put them? I have read advice that says to use 5-30 and put them in the first comment, rather than in the caption as it looks neater. Have you tried this? Does it work better? It is all so confusing!

Instagram stories? I don’t understand them. What are they, how do you use them and should I be doing it? God, I feel like such an old fogey!


If anyone has any fabulous advice on how I can improve my bookstagram game without having to spend more than 15 minutes a day on it, using anything other than my iPhone or the filters on Instagram itself, I will gratefully listen. What works for you? Have you read any useful articles? Can you recommend anyone whose feeds I should follow.

Or am I just a dog who is too old to learn new tricks?



HAPPY NEW YEAR! It’s time for resolutions (again)! #NewYear #Resolutions #2020


It’s the first of January again and I sat down to make some resolutions. I decided to look back on last year’s, and realised that I was going to make the same resolutions all over again for the coming year, so I may as well just copy last year’s post.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not as though I have made no progress on any of these over the past twelve months. I have definitely improved my diet and have lost a stone in weight, although there is more to go. Get fit? Meh, huge room for improvement there. The others are moving in the right direction but need more work, so I guess I’ll keep on keeping on and see how much more progress I can make.

Here’s a reminder of where I am headed, check back in twelve months for a progress report!

1. Eat more healthily.


I thought I’d get the predictable/dull/difficult ones out of the way first. I was going to put ‘Lose some weight’ but that is a rather negative one and I’m only making positive resolutions this year (that should have been number one actually – only make positive resolutions!) so I am going to eat more healthily, and that will have the side effect of causing weight loss, hopefully! It’s a win-win!

2. Get fit.


Time to dust off that gym membership! I need to get in some sort of shape before I hit 50 or resign myself to being unfit forever. (Yes, I realise that ’round’ is a shape, but it is not actually my shape of choice!)

3. Do more ‘free reading.’


I’m coining a new phrase here which I am hoping will catch on. What I mean by this is reading books from my TBR, rather than for blog tours. For fun, rather than because I have made a commitment. I did a huge number of blog tours last year and, whilst I enjoy them and love helping promote the authors and discovered a lot of fabulous new writers, I did find myself under a lot of pressure (self-inflicted!) at times, and it did restrict my ability to just read a book when it took my fancy. So this year, I am cutting back a bit on the blog tours and will read more random books, as and when I feel like it. That TBR needs reducing!

4. Journalling

Last year this section was purely about keeping a gratitude journal, which was something I did intermittently. I am expanding this this year to try and journal daily about everything, the highs and the lows, and incorporate the gratitude into this habit. I think documenting feelings in general is going to be useful for mental health. For someone who has experienced anxiety and depression in the past, managing my thoughts is extremely important in staying mentally healthy and happy. Focusing on the positive aspects of every day and being actively grateful for them can only remind us that life in general is good and that I am fortunate.

For example, today I am very grateful for this scene in Guardians of the Galaxy where Chris Pratt is hosed down, sans shirt. Life is, indeed, good!


5. Finish that novel.

This is the year that my novel WILL be finished and submitted. No more procrastination. No more excuses. No more fear. It is time to put it out there. I have huge support from my family, friends, the Romantic Novelists’ Association (I am on their New Writers’ Scheme for another year), my lovely online writing group and, particularly, my fabulous writing buddy, Kate. They all believe in me, time to start believing in myself and take the next step on that path to achieving my dream.


6. Be happy!



This might seem like an odd one because happiness does not always appear to be under our control. It often seems like something which can only be achieved when external forces align circumstances in our favour to create an environment where we can feel happy for a moment or two. Well, please excuse my French, but bugger that for a game of soldiers. I have decided to choose happiness. To create it wherever possible. To do things which make me happy. To work to make sure that the things in my life are the ones that make me happy, and to rid myself of the negative things as much as I can. To try and take the positives out of situations. I’m tapping in to my inner Pollyanna. It’s a spin on Trainspotting’s Choose Life riff, but way less cool.


So there we go. Those are my resolutions. Not very original. Not earth shattering, but I hope they will have a positive effect on my life, and those around me, which is probably the best I can expect. And you know what they say about the Butterfly Effect.

I KNOW that 2020 is going to be a good year. (More assertiveness required I think!)

What about you? Tell me your resolutions or hopes and dreams for the coming year. I hope it is a good one for all of us. Let’s meet back here in twelve months and see how we all got on, shall we?

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


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.


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.


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.


(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?)


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


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


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.


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 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.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Baby Loss Awareness Week @BLA_Campaign @GBSSupport @Tommys_baby @SandsUK @Blisscharity @LullabyTrust @MiscarriageA @TheEPT #WaveOfLight #BLAW2019 #outofsightoutofmind #babyloss #breakthesilence


Today I bought a birthday cake for my daughter. She turns twelve on Sunday and is having a party tomorrow. I’ll be wrapping her presents later, writing a card. The usual birthday traditions we’ve had each year for the twelve years of her life.

But first I have to pick up another birthday present. Val has made it for me. She has been making the same gift every year for the past 16 years, so I don’t even have to tell her what I want any more, she knows. I’ll go and collect it from her shop on the high street and I’ll take the little white wreath straight to the cemetery to place on my son’s grave. I’ll spend a little while there, thinking about him, remembering the very short time we had together, and then I’ll leave. Another annual birthday tradition.

Some people still remember that today was the day that my son was born 16 years ago, and the day that he died of a Group B Strep infection. They will send me a message to let me know they remember and they are thinking of me, and this means the world to me. Grief over the loss of a child can be a lonely affair, especially after so many years when memories grow hazy and people’s lives move on. Especially as I now have two other healthy children and a happy life. People might assume that the pain is less, that the feelings dull. I can’t blame them, but it is not so.

Losing a child can change everything forever. It changes how you see the world, how safe you feel. It changes your relationship with your other children. It can change your relationship with your partner, how you view the medical profession, how much you trust your own body. It changes you. Nothing is ever the same afterwards, you have to adjust to a new reality and that can be a very difficult and lonely journey to make.

People often say, ‘I can’t imagine what you are going through.’ ‘I can’t imagine having to deal with that.’ I can’t imagine, I can’t imagine. And it is true, they can’t, and they don’t want to. And I don’t blame them for a second. But the fact that people can’t imagine the pain and loss, don’t understand it unless they have been through it themselves or have experience of dealing with people who have, means that parents need specialist support to help them through this specific type of loss and grief if they are to successfully adjust to this new reality in which they now find themselves.

This is why, this year in Baby Loss Awareness Week, we are calling on Governments across the UK to take action to ensure that all parents who experience pregnancy or baby loss and need specialist psychological support can access it, at a time and place that is right for them, free of charge, wherever they live. Thousands of parents experience pregnancy or baby loss every year, many will go on to experience psychiatric illness that requires specialist support, triggered by intense grief and the trauma of their experience. Research shows that too often this support is unavailable, inaccessible or inappropriate. Bereaved parents are falling through the gaps between policy and funding, regularly overlooked altogether.

For more information on what you can do, please visit Wear a pin, write a letter, join in the conversation on social media, join in the Wave of Light on Tuesday 15 October at 7 pm.

And if you are someone who has been affected by what I have discussed here and you need help, please reach out. Don’t suffer in silence. You can find a list of organisations that can help you here.BLAW_Supporter

Bell’s Palsy, Audiobooks & Gaining Perspective


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.