My April Wrap-Up Post

 

 

Monthly Wrap Up post Copyrighted

This has been a great month on my blog. As some of you will have already noticed, I gave my blog a big makeover at the weekend. My lovely husband, who is a great photographer, took some fab photos of my books for me to use on my blog – his photo is now my blog header and I’m over the moon with it. You can read my post about my blog makeover here.

I also decided to register my blog’s domain so I now own rathertoofondofbooks.com and am really happy about that. It just cements that I’ve been blogging long enough now to know that it’s something I want to keep doing in the long term.

I started using dictation software in April and this has made a massive difference to me, it means I can write blog posts even when I’m unable to type. I also learnt how to schedule my blog posts, and found some software that allows me to schedule unpublished blog posts links on social media in advance. All of this combined has made blogging so much easier for me and means I can achieve more in my day.

My TBR is even more out of control than it was last month due to April bringing lots more new books my way. I’m in the middle of sorting out my enormous TBR into recent purchases/review books and then a separate TBR for books that I’ve been keeping for the right time (see my post on this here). I’m still trying to come up with a way to challenge myself to read these books because if I could stop myself waiting for the right time and just read them it would really help me clear my TBR! If anyone has any ideas for this please share in the comments below. I’m planning on making a TBR jar once I’ve finished my lists but I want a challenge to go with that.

Otherwise life is same old same old really. I’m still struggling to get my pain levels under control but I do finally have an appointment to see a specialist this month so I’m really hoping that something can be done to help me. If I can get my pain better controlled and I can find a medication that doesn’t make my head feel like it’s stuffed full of cotton wool then I’ll be able to get back to reading at my normal speed and will finally be able to start making headway with my TBR.


I managed to read fifteen books this month (three were short stories and two were novellas, and ten were full-length novels):

(Click the orange links to read my reviews; the titles in turquoise are books I’ve read but not yet reviewed)

The Swimming Pool by Louise Candlish

The Summer I Met You by Victoria Walters

Dear Dad by Giselle Green

The Boy with the Boxes by Katey Lovell

The Boy on the Bus by Katey Lovell

Peter and Alice by John Logan

In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera

Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

 Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

The Real Book Thief by Ingrid Black

Shtum by Jem Lester

The Ice Twins by S. K. Tremayne


I also reviewed six books that I finished before April

Out of the Darkness by Katy Hogan (re-blog)

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Between You and Me by Lisa Hall

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen


 

I was very lucky this month that I got to interview six authors:

Jannie Lund, author of Vintage Dreams

Sherry Mayes, author of Stop the World

Katye Nunn, author of Rose’s Vintage

Mike Russell, author of Nothing is Strange

Siobhan MacDonald, author of Twisted River

Greg Cope White, author of The Pink Marine

 

I also was delighted to have three authors write a guest post for my blog:

Rosy Stewart, author of Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge Rosy Stewart are a husband and wife writing team. They wrote a great post for my blog all about how it is to write as a duo.

Heidi Perks, author of Beneath the Surface Heidi Perks wrote a brilliant guest post for me in April all about marketing a book on a limited budget. It’s a really interesting post and I recommend reading it.

Sandra Nikolai, author of Fatal Whispers Sandra Nikolai wrote a great guest post for my blog all about how murder mystery writers keep one step ahead of readers. If you’re a fan of thrillers than I’m sure you will love reading this post.


 Also in April, I was very honoured when I was asked to guest post on Laura at 125 Pages blog as part of her first blogiverary celebrations. Laura asked me to write about how the way I approach blogging and how I’ve built my blog up. You can read the post here


 

So, that was my month! How was your April? Has it been a book-filled month for you? Please feel free to share in the comments below, or to leave a link to your own April Wrap-Up post.

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Weekly Wrap-Up (24 April)

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SundayBlogShare

I’m linking this post up to Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s Sunday Blog Share.  It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

 


This week has been another up and down week for me. The beginning of the week was particularly difficult when my already severe pain levels increased further but thankfully they’ve settled a bit since. I’ve had a useful medical appointment this week that is hopefully going to finally lead on to me getting help with the pain. I’m also due to have another MRI scan tomorrow to check that there is nothing else going on in my spine that could be aggravating my pain.

I’m still only managing to concentrate for small periods of time so I’m not getting to read as much as I’d like. I’m grateful to be able to read even a little though and am hoping it will get easier in time. I did manage to finish some books this week that I’ve been reading for a few weeks so I was pleased about that.

It’s been a good week where my blog is concerned though. Thanks to my new scheduling pattern, I had enough posts set up ready to go so that my blog kept going as planned even when I wasn’t around much. It gives me real satisfaction to keep my blog running, even during the tough times so I was really glad that I’d worked out scheduling before this rough patch.


This week I’ve managed to finish reading five books (most of these books I’ve been reading for a few weeks and just finished this week):

Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

I really enjoyed reading this book, it was one of those reads that is really hard to put down once you’ve started reading it. It was different to anything else I’ve read recently and kept me guessing all the way through. I’m on the blog tour for this book today and so look out for my interview with Siobhan MacDonald.

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

Wonder Cruise is such a lovely novel, I found that I wanted to read it slowly to savour it and I really didn’t want it to end. I hope to get my review up this week. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Ursula Bloom’s novels in the future.

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

This book is such a gorgeous read, I absolutely loved it! It had such depth to it and yet was never heavy-going. I hope to have my review of this up on my blog this week.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

This is a novella released for World Book Day and my first ever Rainbow Rowell book! I loved it, it’s such an adorable read! This is the only book I managed to read from start to finish in the course of this week.

Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera

This is a fascinating read about a young woman who runs away from her family to escape an arranged marriage, but that is only the beginning of what happened to Jasvinder. This is ultimately an inspiring read and I recommend it. I hope to have my review ready to post very soon.


 I’ve blogged twelve times this week (well, eleven times plus a re-blog of my guest post on another blog):

 

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post

Monday: Q&A with Kayte Nunn (author of Rose’s Vintage) plus giveaway of ebooks

Blog post: Addicted to Blogging (all about writing my first 200 posts!)

Tuesday: Review of In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday Post

Review of The Boy with the Boxes (Meet Cute) by Katey Lovell

Thursday: Review of The Boy on the Bus (Meet Cute) by Katey Lovell

Q&A with Mike Russell (author of the short story collection, Nothing is Strange)

Friday: Guest post by Heidi Perks (author of Beneath the Surface) about marketing a book on a limited budget

Re-blog from Laura at 125Pages where I wrote a guest post for her about how I approach blogging.

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves Post


Coming up on my blog this week:

My usual WWW Wednesday Post, Stacking the Shelves Post and Weekly Wrap-Up Post. Plus more reviews and an author Q&A/guest post.


This is what I’m currently reading:

Shtum by Jem Lester

This book has got better as it’s gone along and I’m quite enjoying it now.

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

It’s so frustrating that I can only read in short bursts at the moment because this is a book I would have devoured normally. It’s a brilliant novel though and I highly recommend it. When I’m not able to read I’m thinking about this book and wishing I could get back to it.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

I’ve only managed to read the first few chapters of this due to my lack of concentration but I’ve loved what I’ve read and I’m so looking forward to reading more. They writing is so beautiful and every single page feels like a treat.


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What have you been reading this week? Please feel free to link to your weekly wrap-up post, or if you don’t have a blog please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you’re all reading. :)

Q&A with Mike Russell (author of Nothing is Strange)

Today I’m very pleased to be able to share with you an interview I did with Mike Russell, author of Nothing is Strange (a mind-bending short story collection).

 

How did you first come to be a writer? 

When I was 12 years old I began writing a novel called ‘Imagine Infinity’. I designed the book cover and wrote about twenty pages before deciding that I needed more life experience and abandoned it. I thought this early attempt was lost until my parents found it in their loft a couple of years ago. I still like the title. Years later, I began writing again. Then one day a friend was putting together a spoken-word event. Knowing that I wrote things, she asked me to contribute. This led to many years of regularly performing my stories in clubs, bars, galleries and various other strange venues. Happily, I just kept being invited to do more. This proved to me that there was an audience for my writing. I then began publishing my stories.

What is your book about? 

‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories.

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

Inspiration for me is exactly that. I have moments of inspiration that come at odd times. It is always something new to me, giving a certain insight beyond what I already know and it comes with a small euphoria. Where it comes from is a mystery. I love inspiration. I love exploring the places that inspiration reveals to me and I have a huge desire to share what I discover. We are all mysteries surrounded by mystery and filled with mystery! I like to explore that mystery.

What is your writing routine? 

I schedule time when I know I can write for a long stretch without having to do anything else. I write with pen and paper and only move to the computer towards the end of the process. It is good to remain in a sort of limbo so that you are open to a story changing, even if it means having to destroy weeks of work. Cups of tea and occasional kisses help.

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What has your journey to publication been like?

I have always done it independently. Years ago I made hand-bound books of my stories and sold them. I would sew them together, then make cloth covered hardback covers for them. They took ages to make. These days it is so much easier to produce a book. Creative freedom is a wonderful, precious and important thing. To be able to create something that is unique and that has integrity you have to have that freedom. Indie presses are on the increase and to me that is a wonderful thing. www.strangebooks.com is myself and my partner Jay. It is a lot of fun. We have storytelling evenings, book fairs, competitions… ‘Nothing Is Strange’ is our first publication but we have many more in the pipeline. If you follow the website or connect with us through facebook or twitter we will let you know when each new release appears. We are very excited about sharing them. If you believe in what you do then you have the energy to just keep going and going to get your work out there. Again it has to do with inspiration: when you are inspired to create something, you can have total belief in it because its source is as much a mystery to you as it is to everyone else.

What’s your favourite book that you’ve read this year? 

Lyall Watson’s ‘Gift of Unknown Things’

What are you reading at the moment? 

I am currently reading two books: Gary Lachman’s ‘Secret Teachers of the Western World’ and Fernando Arrabal’s ‘The Compass Stone’. I am enjoying both. 

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Is there a question that you wish an interviewer would ask that you’ve never been asked? What’s your answer to that question?

Hmmm… I think ‘What are your stories for?’ is a good question. Stories can have many functions I think. My highest aspiration as a writer is to try to release us (me the writer and you the reader) from all limitations. That is a big aim, right? But it is a very reachable aim. I am sure that we could all name books that have had a profound effect upon us. Stories have that power. They can be more than entertainment whilst still being entertaining. At www.strangebooks.com we say:

“We wish our readers the highest possible outcome from their reading experience. We believe that stories have the potential to be life-changing. So let us not limit the power of the story; let us read with an expectation of the highest possible outcome and allow every story to work its magic.”

The magical aspect of stories has been negated in our present culture. www.strangebooks.com is our small contribution to the re-magicalising of the world. (Yes, I made that word up!)

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, which three things would you want to have with you and why? 

Ideally I would like to have my partner Jay there but as she isn’t a thing I guess I can’t choose her. I never go anywhere without a pen and a pad of post-its. When inspiration comes I need to record it. So that’s two things. For the third I am going to choose a joke book. When all else fails, laugh. 

How can people connect with you on social media?

We post competitions, share free stories and all sorts on social media. It’s good fun and we have met some wonderful people. Come and join in!

You can like us on Facebook here: Strange Books

and follow us on Twitter here: @StrangeBooksEye

 

nothing is strange cover

About the Book:

‘Nothing Is Strange’ is a collection of 20 mind-expanding short stories. ‘Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique…’ all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell so put on your top hat, open your third eye and enjoy… Nothing Is Strange.

Available here: Nothing is Strange

 

“For me, creating is discovering and storytelling is bringing into the world dreams that are universal. They come from a deep place; they want to be known and they want to help us. Storytelling is a way of turning the world inside out, which I believe it desperately needs.” Mike Russell

 

Stacking the Shelves (2 April 2016)

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(Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week – ebooks or physical books, and books you’ve bought or borrowed or received an ARC of.)

This week I’ve bought a few new books:

The Last Thing I Remember by Deborah Bee

I added this book to my wish list quite recently after reading Cleopatra Loves Books fab review of it; I knew it was a book I’d have to read as it sounded so good! Anyway, I happened to notice it was on offer for Kindle this week and so I treated myself, I hope to read it very soon!

Who Are You? by Megan Henley

I’m still reading quite a lot of non-fiction and so when I read a great review of this on Postcard Reviews, I bought it straight away. It sounds like a very interesting read. 

Follow Me Back by Nicci Cloke

This book popped up on my Amazon recommendations recently and so as it was on offer I decided to give it a go. It sounds like a really good read so hopefully I’ll enjoy it.

Last Kiss Goodnight by Teresa Driscoll

This is a book I’ve been looking forward to for a while but had forgotten I’d pre-ordered it so it was a nice surprise when it appeared on my Kindle this week.

Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter by Erin Rooney Doland

I can never resist a book about dealing with clutter! (There is possibly an irony here somewhere…)

The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

Another new book I treated myself to when I spotted it in a deal on Kindle this week.

In Too Deep by Bea Davenport

This book is free on Kindle Unlimited at the moment so I couldn’t resist downloading it, it sounds like a good read.


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I was thrilled to win a giveaway on Goodreads for a copy of The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan. The email telling me I’d won a copy ended up in my spam folder so I had no idea I’d won this until the book arrived through my letterbox this week. I can’t wait to start reading this – I loved Gilly’s previous novel Burnt Paper Sky so have very high hopes for this!

 


 

I was also very lucky to receive some books to review:

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The Joyce Girl by Annabel Abbs

I was offered the chance to read and review this book for the publisher, Impress Books, a little while ago and I jumped at the chance! It was exciting to receive a beautiful proof copy of the book along with a really nice postcard and lovely note from the author, Annabel Abbs. I’m very much looking forward to reading this novel, I’m sure I’m going to love it. I recently took part in the cover reveal for The Joyce Girl and so you can read more about the book in this post if you’d like to.

In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

I’ve loved the previous Samantha Hayes books that I’ve read so I was excited to receive a review copy of her new novel. It’s due to be released in May so I’ll definitely be reading and reviewing it before then.

Girls’ Weekend by Cara Sue Achterberg

The Pink Marine by Greg Cope White

Stop the World by Sherry Mayes

Nothing is Strange by Mike Russell

The above four books were all offered to me for review and I jumped at the chance as they all sound like really good reads. I was thrilled that all four authors also agreed to being interviewed by me for my blog so these interviews will be coming soon – please look out for them.


 

So, that’s all of my new books from the past week. Have you bought any new books recently? Tell me all in the comments below, or if you have a stacking the shelves post on your blog feel free to post the link below too. 🙂 

My weekly wrap up post will be on my blog tomorrow so please look out for that.