Mini-review: The Strangler Vine, by MJ Carter

Really enjoyed this – the level of research about India in the early 19thC was evident in the rich detail, and the precarious relationship between the main characters, although a little formulaic in the early sections of the book, developed nicely. The story itself is somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and Indiana Jones, with plenty of intrigue, jewels and flashing swords. Recommended.

(Review also posted on Goodreads and Litsy)

Book swaps – my new thing?

I’ve never done an online book swap before. I have done other online exchanges, but they were quilting/fabric related, back when I was doing a lot of sewing; I haven’t had the time for much of that for a number of years (I miss it…), so no swaps or exchanges either. I’ve never really been pricked to sign up for book swaps; I have participated in a number of reading challenges, but usually come to resent reading stuff because I have to, or to make up numbers, or whatever. I’m also quite bad at deadlines aside from work, which doesn’t help.

So I don’t really know how/why I came across Bex and Hanna‘s Ninja Book Swap, or why I signed up. But I did, and I’m so glad.

First I had the joy (and panic) of buying and acquiring items to send to Callie – panic caused by ordered items not arriving as scheduled, meaning the parcel went off on the deadline day, a bit light of items, containing a scarf from my wardrobe rather than the lovely new one I’d sourced, and without other treats because I ran out of time.*

Then, after a short wait, my own parcel arrived today, from Sprite – and what a corker it was! So much joy, such a lovely thing (pile of things) to receive – I think this may become my new hobby.

IMG_20160401_1756285_rewindThank you so much, Sprite – I’ll be in touch personally very soon. And as an extra note – my two daughters were so impressed and delighted with my swap goodies that they both want to sign up for the Ninja Book Swap next time it runs. Spreading the joy!


*See above re deadlines. Sorry Callie – first book swap, I guess I didn’t know the form. After my huge haul from Sprite I feel humble, and promise a further parcel of goodness at some point soon to make up for it. Paying it forward, and all that…

Books I’m loving right now

I’m useless at reviewing books. There, I’ve said it. I love to read them, I love to talk about them, I love to recommend them, but reviewing them is … not a chore, exactly, because it’s writing about books, and what’s not to like with that? (Apart from actually doing it, obviously.)

I think it’s more that when I’ve read a book it’s gone, and I want to move on to the next one, and if I’ve taken on a duty to review a book it hangs around and becomes a bit like the friend you invited over for coffee, and who you enjoyed seeing but now they’re still sitting in your living room chatting about nothing, and they won’t leave, and you’ve got somewhere else to be but they WON’T GO, dammit.

Also, the title of this post might be slightly incorrect – I haven’t quite loved all the books I’ve listed below, but they have affected me in different ways. So in lieu of reviews, here’s a list of stuff I’ve read recently. Not reviews, honestly.

  1. The Shetland series by Ann Cleeves. I’m a little in love with Jimmy Perez, but the one in the books, not the one in the tv series. Just finished Raven Black and White Nights, got Red Bones on order; the prose is clean and spare, the islands are as much a part of the narrative as any of the characters, and I want to go there.
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. Bonkers, and I’m not sure in a good way, but I’ve tidied some drawers in my kitchen. So there’s a start.
  3. Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn. A useful basic introduction to the business of publishing one’s own words, by way of preparation for a possible venture I might or might not be considering – some way to go, and people to consult, and stuff to learn, but watch this space. Maybe.
  4. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Didn’t want this one to finish – I genuinely did love it. Read it.
  5. Perfume by Patrick Suskind. A little late to this party, but I also loved this, although it was deeply unsettling. Perhaps because.

I’ll do this again when I’ve read some more stuff. In the meantime, re item 3 on the list, if you can offer any thoughts or experiences of self-publishing, do get in touch. I have some ideas.

Nottinghamshire Dialect Event

Belated shout out – this is happening this evening. I’m going, should be interesting – and there might even be a few of my dialect books on display! A Nottinghamshire dialect even organised by Bradwell Books, with local experts in attendance (not me), in Waterstones Nottingham, 6pm, £3 entry – come along if you’re in the area, see you there.

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Sunny sneak peek…

Less than a month now until Edge-Lit, the sci-fi, fantasy and horror fiction convention held annually in Derby (conveniently, about ten miles from my house). I’ve bought my ticket, I’ll be there – partly to see/hear loads of excellent speakers and to stock up on books (obv),  but mainly because Sunny with a Chance of Zombies (published by Knightwatch Press, including my story Run, Rabbit)  is being launched there. Yay!

To whet your appetite (and because I found it online today), here’s a sneak peek of the cover art, by Stephen Cooney:


The book features stories by some fabulous authors – and me, who somehow snuck in there. If comedy zombies are your thing (and let’s face it, what’s not to like?), get in touch with the editor Dion Winton-Polak to preorder your copy. If you do it before Edge-Lit, the attending authors will even sign it for you. (Well, I will, anyway. Possibly whether anyone asks me to or not.)


Ok, so this is kind of by way of a test, to see how things post from Hootsuite. Since I do most of my online updating via Hootsuite these days, it would make sense to blog from there a bit too. It might make me do it more regularly.