#Nanowrimo2020

November always ushers in a strange event for some (many… ohhh so many) writers – the challenge that is Nanowrimo.

If you don’t know what that is in short it stands for National Novel Writing Month… yes a month… to write a novel… Insane right? But as millions prove year upon year it is achievable.

The trick, I have found, is just to write. Don’t over think it – don’t worry if this character is behaving a little oddly or if that scene doesn’t quite work how you want it to – you can correct all of that in the following months.

November is for writing and that is ALL.

So for all of those participating this year Good Luck and I’ll see you at the finish line 🙂

Oh, and if you want to Buddy me along the way – I’m here: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/dawneh

Sh**ged.Married.Annoyed – Book Review

There’s no denying we are living through some crazy, stressful, and often depressing times at the moment… so there is a lot to be said for something that just takes you away from all that… and makes you laugh.

This was one such book: Shagged. Married. Annoyed. By Chris & Rosie Ramsey

Blurb: SH**GED
Saturday nights out on the tiles, undying crushes, dating like it’s a competitive sport, awkward tales of dating woes, one-night stands, the walk of shame, ghosting, tears and break-ups.


MARRIED
Finding ‘the one’, meeting their parents, first holidays and romantic weekends away, engagement rings, big moment proposals, wedding bells, the hen do, the stag, the much anticipated – and feared – best man speech, the honeymoon of a lifetime.

ANNOYED
Who stacks a dishwasher like this? Empty milk cartons placed back into the fridge, pregnancy, sleepless nights, toilet seats up, toothpaste everywhere, less and less frequent date nights, DIY weekends, divorce.

Whether you’re sh**ged, married, annoyed, or, all of the above, Chris and Rosie Ramsey, hosts of the number one podcast, write hilariously and with honesty about the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, sex and relationships.

Rating: 5/5

My Thoughts: This is a book I could have sat and read in one day but I chose not to. Instead I stretched it out for a week, dipping in for a treat every evening to make the pleasure of the book last that much longer.

Listening to the SMA podcast has always been like sitting around a kitchen table with old friends and having a good laugh. The book is like those same friends wrote you a letter – and it was equally as enjoyable.

The thing I have always enjoyed about the Ramsey’s is how they are as a couple. No they’re not perfect, they don’t live a dream life, and they don’t always get along – but they are real, and honest, and just so damn entertaining!

With stories from their own lives mixed with letters from the public, there is something to amuse, or possibly disgust, everyone… seriously what IS wrong with people?!

So, if you enjoy the podcast then you’ll enjoy the book. If you’ve never heard the podcast read the book… then you’ll want to listen to the podcast.

Loved it. Love them!

Book Review – Little White Secrets

The end of August already? Did we just skip a few months somewhere? Seriously this strange old year is going by too fast.

So today I should have been heading to Liverpool for the start of International Beatleweek but sadly, and obviously, this had to be cancelled. This is an event I’ve been going to for over 20 years, I celebrate my birthday there and meet up with lots of brilliant friends… it is certainly going to be a hole in my life this year but at least Cavern City Tours have managed to put together a bit of a Virtual Beatleweek (check out their facebook for more info).

In the meantime, it was my birthday on Monday and the sun was shining, so it was the perfect time to finish off a book…. this book…

Little White Secrets by Carol Mason

lwsBlurb:  A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.

For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children—tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.

Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.

When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own…

Rating:  5/5

My thoughts:  It’s easy to believe that someone has the perfect life, the perfect family, the perfect husband… and it’s easy to pretend that is the case – until the perfection cracks and you realise there is nothing holding your life together.

Emily had everything – until she didn’t. And when her life went wrong, it did it in spectacular style.

This was a brilliantly crafted and written book, the characters and story arc held my attention every second of the way, and I was happy to follow the story to the very end, which did not disappoint.

If you’re looking for a good read then you can’t go far wrong here.

Website:  carolmasonbooks.com

Twitter:  @CarolMasonBooks

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren by John L Fear – Review

If I didn’t know better I would think that summer has arrived and all is well with the world. A weekend spent out in the garden, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, the fragrance of newly bloomed flowers, and the soft buzzing of fluffy bumblebees, can make you forget the nightmares that many people are currently living through.

I always enjoy reading while sitting out in the sun, and this brought me to the end of another book… this one:

Blurb:  John Fear was born into a religious sect known as the Exclusive Brethren. This exclusivesheltered him from the outside world as he grew up, but could not hide him from its influences. A struggle began in his mind that led him to leave the Brethren, along with his young family.

Rather than reacting as many do and totally abandoning any belief system, John remained true to his convictions and continued a strongly religious way of life. Still serving God he worked in many places throughout the world, rubbing shoulders with famous people such as Billy Graham, Mother Teresa and Cliff Richard.

The writing style of this book is dynamic and engaging. John’s personality shines through and he paints an insightful account of his personal life and surrounding historical events. This account is not a sensationalised expose of the Exclusive Brethren. Instead, it follows one man’s life journey and is brought to life through his diary entries and family letters.

This beautifully edited book is more than a memoir. It is a delightful mix of history, social customs, travel and belief. An honest, personal and emotive account of how religion can touch and shape a person’s life – forever.

Rating:  3/5
My thoughts: I took my time over this book and reading it in small chunks was reminiscent of visiting an elderly relative and hearing about moments from their lives. It’s a well written tale of one man’s life, his family, and his beliefs.
While I could see the quality of the book I think it would appeal more to people with their own religious convictions, I think I was expecting more about John’s struggle in and out of the Brethren.
An interesting memoir which I am sure will touch many people.

Book Review – Jonah by Jan Sikes

Do you have a few minutes to spare and fancy a quick read? Well that’s what I did last night and this time it was Jonah by Jan Sikes

JonahBlurb:  Fantasy meets reality when a young man is forced to choose his punishment for crimes committed. Jonah must decide between imprisonment in a concrete box beneath the earth or be exiled to a deserted, barren island. He chooses the island, but nothing can prepare him for the deadly creatures, and poisonous plants at every turn. Then there’s the maddening isolation that drives him to the brink of insanity. There is only one way off this island and it’s more difficult than anything he’s ever imagined. It’s much easier to face mortal danger than the demons within. Will he find redemption, or another unexpected offer?

Rating:  3/5

My thoughts: I loved the idea of this story, a convict exiled to a deserted island, well deserted apart from the vicious creatures which constantly threaten his life.  A strange delivery of books lead Jonah on a journey of self discovery which will ultimately lead him to more discoveries than he could ever have imagined.

While I enjoyed this story, and it was very well written, it also felt a little lacking to me. I think it is such a good concept of a story line that it would have worked much better as a full novel. I would loved to have heard more about the life that lead Jonah to be on that island, and I would have enjoyed seeing his friendship grow more slowly to really convince me of his choices at the end. I would also love to know “what happens next”.

To me this felt more like an early working which would benefit from a lot of fleshing out to fully round it into an amazing tale.

Book Review – The Road to Zoe

The sun is high and bright in the sky, a glorious golden globe shining down from an unspoiled perfect blue sky. Small birds are singing and swooping, almost dancing in the sunshine. And some of the largest bumblebees I have seen are buzzing around, showing off their fluffy striped jumpers as they skip from flower to flower.

If you didn’t know better you would think that all is well with the world. I look forward to a time when that is true 🙂

In the meantime, I find the best use of this beautiful day was to finish reading a wonderful book. This book was The Road to Zoe by Nick Alexander

Blurb: She ran away from the truth, but she can’t run forever.

zoeSeven years after his sister vanished without a trace, Jude is on the road, determined not to return home until he has found her. He wants to reunite his broken family, but more than this he wants to know why Zoe left—what happened when they were kids, on that terrible day when everything fell apart.

They’d been enjoying the funfair—grasping a rare moment of happiness following their parents’ divorce—when after a ride together, Zoe had stopped speaking to her mother’s new partner. Though Mandy believed he was the man she’d waited all her life for, her love for her daughter trumped even that, and soon suspicions of an unthinkable betrayal shattered the family.

So finding Zoe would be just the start. If Jude can find her, then what happens next will depend on the story she’s been carrying with her all these years. Because when families are destroyed by dark secrets, can the wounds ever truly heal?

Rating:  5/5

My thoughts:  Another beautifully crafted story, perfectly illustrating the feelings, fears, and hopes of a family torn apart when 16 year old Zoe disappears.

Nick introduces us to a family in turmoil as young Zoe’s behaviour begins to spiral, seemingly for no reason. But of course there is a reason… if only they can find out what it is.

Told in parallel timelines we also join a grown up Jude and his girlfriend as they travel from town to town determined to track Zoe down and finally find out what drove her from the family home so many years earlier.

The characters are, as always with Nick’s writing, real and relatable and I found myself emotionally invested in Jude’s quest – hoping that he would be successful, and that we would all find the answers he needs. I may have even shed a tear or two as we got to the end.

Another triumph 🙂

 

Book Review – A Candle in the Darkness

In these troubled times sometimes it’s nice to escape – and a good read is the perfect way to help you forget your worries for a while.

Last night I read “A Candle in the Darkness” by Karen Black

CandleBlurb: Is there life after death? Not according to Valerie. Following the accidental death of her husband, Randy, she Valerie was distraught. With her mother-in-law saying repeatedly that Randy was still with her, Valerie’s grief was amplified. Randy, had been the center of her life, and now he was gone. He was not with her. He died and was buried in a casket in the ground.
In spite of severe storm warnings, and against her in-laws’ advice, Valerie set out for Maryland, where she and Randy had been planning to live. It took a tornado, and the words of a stranger to show Valerie exactly how to move on without Randy; or was it with him?

Rating:  3/5

My thoughts: Valerie doesn’t believe in a life after death. When you’re gone you’re gone, and that is what her husband is. Gone. Taking shelter from a tornado in the cellar of a motel Valerie will learn things she never expected.

A well written short, that is easy to read. Unfortunately I felt a little dissatisfied by the time I got to the end. I found the climax of the story predictable, I had assumed this was where it was going very early into the story. I think I could have forgiven that in a longer read, if I had been given time to really grow to know the characters and their lives. A nice story but missing any wow factor.

Book Review – One Dyke Cozy by Rhani D’Chae #RRBC

Happy New Year to everyone out there and welcome to my first review of the year… and this is it:

One Dyke Cozy by Rhani D’Chae

cozyBlurb: People come into our lives for a day, a season, or a reason…
“Shy taught me to fight like a champion, love like a poet, & live like it was my last day on earth.”

One Dyke Cozy touches on the lives of two girls, Gabby and Shy, from their first meeting as children to Shy’s untimely death.

This novel contains profanity and adult situations.

Rating:  4/5

My Thoughts: A short but enjoyable read showing us the friendship between two girls, from the moment they meet at 8 years old, until Shy dies, far too young. The two lead characters are certainly very different but you can see how they bring out the best in each other and Gabby becomes the best woman she can be after she meets the tomboy and confident Shy.  Mr Happy is a third party in the relationship and, despite being an inanimate object, becomes very important to the two girls.

A good book if you a looking for something easy to read, uplifting and enjoyable.

Book Review – Zombie Dawn #RRBC

So the joy that is Nanowrimo is upon us once again and as such there isn’t really the time to indulge in a big read – this is when short stories can fill the bill. Last night I read:

Zombie Dawn by Rhani D’Chae

And this is what I thought…

zombieBlurb:  In the late hours of a warm summer night, the residents of a quiet little street find that things are not so quiet, after all.

Rating: 5/5

My thoughts: For a short read this story certainly packs in a lot of action. In around an hour (for the reader) a nice quiet street turns into a nightmare as one by one residents fall prey to the zombie curse.  I enjoyed how the different characters discovered what was going on – and how each encounter with a zombie is different. A fun read – as long as you enjoy a good zombie tale.