May slipped by and June has been here a week so it must be time for a quick cuppa and a catch-up.
Though I have made inroads to my WIP with nearly 50,000 words, I began to be overwhelmed by the disjointed scenes my brain had conjured and my inability to arrange them in a coherent chronological order. I found myself caught in a writing slump. Luckily, I heard that Shaunta Grimes was doing a course – ninja write a long (NWAL) and this was an opportunity to revisit my synopsis and characters; to get back on track. It is early days but I feel more upbeat and determined to finish Amber’s tale and a secret project, one Elsie is excited about.
My plans to be organised for the beginning of NWAL fell apart with an injured hand and then a weekend hospital admission. Though my hand is better than before, physio and painkillers are the way forward to get it back to full use. If I was slow before, I am on snail pace now.
This is the month for taking stock and moving forward towards my goals.
I plan to
follow NWAL’s mantra to read and write every day
enter two writing competitions
solidify my characters and backstories
arrange my scenes into chronological order – a big task
research settings for Amber and Willow
research Whitby history and folklore
delve into the world of witchcraft and Druidry
Make mood boards for my main characters
Books read in May
Some unique and wonderful books have been read in May including my favourite of the year and possibly my lifetime.
The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton. I was eager to read this after reading the short story Alive. It did not disappoint.
We Others by Sue Bentley. This book has got under my skin for its imagery, setting, and characters. If you love fantasy and magical realism find a copy and enjoy. My review on Duvet Dwellers Books is here. It is Elsie’s favourite book too so I apologise in advance if it is talked about a lot.
The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper. A romance it has a unique premise of a woman aptly named Melody sings when anxiety kicks in. It’s funny, heartbreaking and clever. There is an accompanying playlist to give the reading experience an added layer.
As soon as I spied the latest Louise Jensen’s novel on the screen I knew I needed to read it. I know from experience from reading her previous books The Gift and The Surrogate once opened I was in for a thrilling, high tension ride.
The Date by Louise Jensen
Title: The Date
Author: Louise Jensen
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: 21st June 2018
One night can change everything.
‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’
Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.
Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…
From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister, The Gift, and The Surrogate, The Date is a gripping page-turner that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep.
I made the mistake of thinking I could read just one chapter before I started the day I was wrong. Never has a tagline of “An unputdownable psychological thriller with a breathtaking twist” been so appropriate. The Date captivated me from the first page until the last. Louise Jensen’s use of language and pace threw me straight into the story as Ali wakes up from her date the night before. My heart raced along with hers as the tension deepened and the implications of her acquired prosopagnosia or “face blindness” became apparent. It causes everyday problems but when you are under threat anyone could be an attacker or the date. The use of this condition adds more fear into this plot and works well. The novel begins with the nonsensical and now eerie poem The Owl and The Pussycat byEdward Lear and it set the tone for the book. I did not know where this story was going and the twists took me to unimaginable places.
Louise Jensen is the queen of twists and tension. She does not let you go until the final word has been read but even then you are left reeling by revelations the book has revealed. She is on psychological thriller writer I can read again because the second time despite knowing the upcoming twists she manages to place you into the character’s mind again who is oblivious to the trauma ahead.
Would I recommend?
Oh yes. Don’t dilly dally if you love psychological thrillers, put it in your basket now! Her books are on my forever shelf when they are not on loan to book trustworthy friends.
More information on Louise Jensen and her books can be found here
Last week I had to spend the weekend in hospital but I was lucky to have The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper to keep me company. Thank you, Mai Taylor, from Mai’s Musings for recommending and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy to give an honest review.
Book Review for The Songs of Us
Title: The Songs of Us
Author: Emma Cooper
Release Date: 31st May for e-book 20th September paperback
Genre: Romance, Contemporary fiction
‘Quirky, clever, and original, this will break your heart, but put it back together again’ Katie Fforde
‘This is a very special book indeed: funny, powerful, heart-wrenching and so poignant’ Jo Thomas
‘One of my favourites of 2018’ Amazon reviewer
Fans of Jojo Moyes, Cecilia Ahern and Marian Keyes will love The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper, a laugh-out-loud, funny and heartbreaking novel of love, loss and what it means to be a family.
If Melody hadn’t run out of de-icer that day, she would never have slipped and banged her head. She wouldn’t be left with a condition that makes her sing when she’s nervous. And she definitely wouldn’t have belted out the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor’ in assembly at her son’s school.
If Dev hadn’t taken the kids to the zoo that day, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. He wouldn’t have left Flynn and Rose without a dad. Or shattered the love of his life’s heart.
But if they hadn’t seen the missing person report that day, they might never have taken the trip to Cornwall. And, in the last place they expected, discovered what it really means to be ‘Us’.
Readers love The Songs of Us:
‘Rarely does a book come along that is as unique and mesmerising as The Songs Of Us‘
‘Reminiscent of (and in my humble opinion right up there with) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Cecilia Ahern’s PS I Love You‘
‘It had me laughing and crying in equal measures’
The imagery Emma Cooper’s writing evoked in the first few pages made me splutter and a chuckle and I knew I was going to enjoy this book. The writing is strong and I instantly connected to the flawed characters of the King’s dysfunctional but loving family unit. Melody, Flynn, and Rose share their perspectives as they all cope with the consequences of Melody’s neurological condition in their own way. I cringed and laughed with them as Melody’s singing provided many unforgettable moments. The premise of singing when anxious sounded absurd but it quickly becomes believable. Emma Cooper has a talent for blending humour with heartbreak to produce a unique, warm, funny, heartbreaking and memorable read. I have yet to start a new book days later because it refuses to let me go.
I wish I could see the sculptures and art created in the book; they are described in intricate detail and they sound stunning.
Music plays a huge role in the story so expect many earworms or involuntary singing along while reading. The clever use of songs adds to the flow and pace of the novel. I was delighted to discover an accompanying playlist on Spotify.
Would I recommend?
This is one of my favourite books in this genre and once it is released will live on my forever shelf. It reminds me of Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes at their best. You will need a box of tissues from the start to wipe the tears from laughter and sobbing.
I am currently reading Coffee Break Companion, a collection of short stories, poems, and work by S L Grigg. The title says it all – this book is ideal to read on a coffee break or those moments in the day when you can snatch a few moments to read. Book review will be with you shortly.
Sharon Grigg, who writes under the pen name S.L Grigg, made it her new year’s resolution to publish her book ‘Coffee Break Companion’ during 2018. After bouncing back from mental health problems following the death of her husband from a brain tumour in 2009, Sharon was struck down with kidney and other health problems, believed to be linked to having the Essure sterilisation device she had implanted back in 2008. In September 2017 she underwent major surgery to have a non-functioning hydronephrotic kidney removed at the same time as a full hysterectomy to remove the essure device.
Just two months after setting her goal Sharon launched the collection of dark, short stories and poetry on Amazon. Many of the stories were written during Sharon’s battle with mental health.
41-year-old mother of two, Sharon says “For me publishing was never about, money or fame. I just wanted to be able to hold a copy of my book and say, ‘I wrote this’ and now I can.”
Meet S.L Grigg
I am pleased to say Sharon has joined me today for a natter and a cup of tea to discuss her book, writing among other things.
Kate Kenzie: What is your favourite book?
S.L Grigg:Oh, so many to choose from, I’m sure it changes all the time depending on what is my favourite of the things I have read recently. I don’t think I could choose just one all-time favourite. In that respect I kind of envy those who have a clear favourite like Harry Potter fans, or something. I have a few favourite series, like the OtherWorld Series by Kelley Armstrong and The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. I guess my current favourite book would be Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty, loved it and the show, and the soundtrack! Can’t wait for Season two of the show!
Kate Kenzie: I love that series by Kelley Armstrong, though I was disappointed by the TV version, Bitten on SYFY. My favourite characters are Jeremy and Paige. Who are yours?
S.L Grigg: I agree the series didn’t live up to the books in Bitten, my favourite characters are Savannah and Paige.
Kate Kenzie: Who is your favourite author?
S.L Grigg:As above really, so many in addition to those mentioned I also love James Patterson, Adam Baker, Dean Koontz and many more
Kate Kenzie: What is your favourite drink to have next to you while you write?
S.L Grigg:Whilst I am writing I will usually have water or tea (white, two sweeteners, must be the colour of He-Man to be right, don’t leave the tea bag in too long, I don’t like it mashed!)
Kate Kenzie: Is your writing influenced by the books you have read?
S.L Grigg: I guess it is a little, I like to write quite dark, thriller type stories with a hint of fantasy or sci-fi and I do read a lot of books with those types of themes. You would be hard pushed to catch me writing or reading and enjoying romance/chick-lit or historical, even the classics, I’m not a fan of overly elaborate writing, long flowery words and excessively heavy description put me off, so I wouldn’t write that way either.
Kate Kenzie: Where is your favourite place to read or write?
S.L Grigg:Curled up on the sofa, with the family around, we might not be talking as we will often all be buried in our own reading, writing or laptops, but it’s nice to just be together 😊
Kate Kenzie: When did you begin writing and how did being published come about?
S.L Grigg: I started writing as a child, at 11 I wrote my first full story (which features in Coffee Break Companion) and I also wrote a collection of illustrated stories based on the Puffalumps back then. Being published came about as it had always been my dream to be able to hold an actual book and say ‘I wrote this’ so I set it as my New Year Resolution for 2018 (I don’t’ normally do resolutions) and within 2 months I had made it happen!
Kate Kenzie: If you have a genre you write, how did you begin writing in this style?
S.L Grigg:As above, I write in a few and I think they are influenced by what I enjoy reading myself. I think if I would enjoy reading it, I can write it, and that’s generally what I do, write things I would enjoy reading.
Kate Kenzie: You have had a lot of health problems, has being chronically ill influenced your writing and changed its direction?
S.L Grigg:When I was suffering with my mental health writing was like therapy for me, I blogged like crazy at that time and wrote a huge amount about my personal experiences and understanding of Borderline Personality Disorder, it helped a lot in my recovery. I needed to understand my condition to overcome it. Many of my other health problems I’ve not written about much, but I think I will probably write more eventually. I have put much of my BPD writing together so I could publish that as a book if I can get round to tidying it up and finishing it off!
Kate Kenzie:I love your poems My BPD Existence, Don’t and your short story Loneliness. Reading your poems and stories many of them are emotional and feel personal, did you find it difficult to share these in your book?
S.L Grigg: Yeah, A lot of my stories and poems come from personal experience, I’m comfortable with sharing them, and my next book will be about BPD from my own experience from discovery to recovery from the condition
I have a confession. I have never read Shakespeare- not properly. I don’t think a quick flick of a couple of chapters of AMidsummer’s Night Dream and a handful of notes from teacher count. Luckily, he didn’t come up in my English exam so I passed but I have always felt ashamed of my lack of knowledge in his work. How can an avid reader, an aspiring writer not be educated in one of the most famous playwrights ever? I consoled myself that many say he is boring and difficult to understand; maybe I had a lucky escape but maybe I am missing out.
This summer in York they are constructing The Globe theatre for a pop-up event. I have booked tickets for my daughter and I to see Macbeth. All I know is it has witches in it which is a handy as I love witch-related stories. I am nervous, worried I will sit there completely bamboozled by the whole experience, unable to grasp what is going on. Therefore, I am jumping in and reading it first – gulp. Wish me luck!
Are you a fan of Shakespeare? If so, which one and any tips on reading his work would be gratefully received.