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 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 I also learnt how to schedule my blog posts, and found some software that allows me to schedule unpublished blog posts links on social media in advance.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.

Weekly Wrap-Up (17 April 2016)

Weekly wrap-up banner


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.


I’ve not had the best week in terms of my health, I’m still struggling to find the balance between controlling pain but not ending up feeling out of it on painkillers. The result at the moment is that I’m feeling quite awful all of the time, so my reading is suffering as I can’t concentrate on books for more than around ten minutes at a time.

I’ve had a good week in terms of blogging though. It’s made such a huge difference to me having my dictation software, I’m dictating just about everything now (even tweets & Facebook updates) so it’s great. Finally working out how to schedule posts in advance, and also how to schedule links to my blog posts to go out on social media using an app, has been a revelation. I’m managing my time better now and it’s been great this week that I’ve had posts up every day on my blog as it was all scheduled in advance during the short periods when I’ve felt a little better.


This week I’ve managed to read two books:

Peter and Alice by John Hogan

This is actually a play script but it was easy enough to read as it’s predominantly got just the two characters throughout. This a fictional conversation between Alice (who Alice in Wonderland was based on) and Peter (who Peter Pan was based on) and it’s fascinating. I bought this book a while ago but wish I’d read it sooner now as it was brilliant. I plan to review this on my blog quite soon.

In Too Deep by Samantha Hayes

I finished reading this very late on Friday night and so haven’t managed to review it yet but I will be doing very soon. I really enjoyed this book, it kept me hooked all the way through it.


 I’ve blogged ten times this week:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up Post


Monday: Q&A with Sherry Mayes (author of Stop the World)

dear dad by giselle green

Tuesday: Review of Dear Dad by Giselle Green

WWW pic

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday post

First by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Thursday: Review of Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn


Announcement of the winner of The One-in-a-Million Boy giveaway

when she was bad tammy

Friday: Review of When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

Blog post about Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

Stacking the Shelves

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves post


Guest post by Rosy Stewart (Author of Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge)


Coming up on my blog this week:

Sunday: Weekly Wrap-Up (Sunday Post)

Monday: Q&A with Kayte Nunn (author of Rose’s Vintage) PLUS an international giveaway!

Tuesday: Review or Author Q&A/Interview

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday Post

Thursday: Review or Author Q&A/Interview

Friday: Review or Author Q&A/Interview

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves Post


This is what I’m currently reading:

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer

I treated myself to this book last week and couldn’t resist starting it the other day. It’s about the Titanic disaster but focuses on the Californian – the ship who was near enough to potentially help but they didn’t react. It’s a novel but has been very heavily researched.  I’ve only read the first few chapters so far but it’s very good.

The Second Love of My Life by Victoria Walters

I’m very much enjoying this book, it’s brilliant. The only reason for me not finishing it sooner is due to me not being able to read much this week. I hope to read more of it very soon.

Shtum by Jem Lester

I’ve read the first third of this book but I’m not feeling very motivated to pick it back up, it just isn’t grabbing me at all. 

Shame by Jasvinder Sanghera

This is non-fiction and whilst I know it’s probably going to be quite a tough read later on, at the moment it’s fascinating reading about the family dynamics and how they all got on before the problems started.

Wonder Cruise by Ursula Bloom

This book is wonderful. It was written in the 1930s and is about a spinster, Ann, who always listens to what her brother tells her and lives a very sheltered existence. Then one day she comes into a sum of money and on a whim books a cruise! I’ve only read the first few chapters but it’s such an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to reading more when I feel better. If you want to know more about this book, I wrote a post about it on my blog yesterday – you can read that here.

Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald

I only started reading this late last night so have only read a couple of chapters so far but I really want to read more of it as soon as I can. I’m on the blog tour for this book on Sunday so look out for my post then.

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. :)


Guest post by Rosy Stewart (author of Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge)


Today I’m pleased to welcome Rosie and Stuart Larner, who wrote Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge under the pseudonym Rosy Stewart, to my blog. They have written a guest post/interview about how they write together and what books they like to read. 

How did we come to be writers?

We have always composed poetry, and written for radio and the stage. During our working hours most of our time was taken up with academic writing, and compiling professional reports and articles.

Lately, we have expanded our artistic and creative writing and we are particularly interested in fiction that mirrors truth.

We incorporate this into our scripts and the latest novella.

What is our latest book about?

For our latest work, the novella “Hope”, we were inspired by our experiences of people who have suffered abuse. Although our book is fictional, we wanted to build in the feeling that survivors did not always want to be viewed as victims. Therefore, it had elements of empowerment and revenge in the stories.

Three women work together as a vigilante team to help victims by investigating and tracking down their abusers. However, they must also face their own inner dilemmas. The book consists of the cases of twelve people and has both elements of a thriller and a crime novella.

We note how widespread abuse is. It is not just about male-female relationships, but it also pervades all facets of society.

In our clinical work, we met people who were labelled as patients, or victims, who came to us with a history of lifelong trauma and hopelessness. We wanted to show, in fictional form, that people who have suffered horrible abuse can be empowered and are able to change.

If we could write inspiring stories about what people could have done before they became labelled as victims, then we might be able to influence some of the negative thinking that comes with their role in society.

Hopefully it could inspire those who are in an abusive relationship to recognise their situation and seek help. Real people might be influenced by seeing how our fictional characters deal with their challenges and how their stories can have favourable outcomes.

Information and advice about abuse and treatment approaches can be found on our website.

How do we write together?

Writing as a duo poses challenges.

Discipline and time management is important; we must respect each other’s time and domestic duties. We write in short bursts so that we can fit our other activities into the day.

How we write is that we generally have a discussion in the first instance about what the book and each chapter will be roughly about.

During these meetings, there is much lively discussion about the general direction and the characters. This takes place in a fluid, recorded format, and changes from session to session.

Initially we try to set up the characters and create files with the back-story of each character.

Only after we have agreed on what the chapter will be about do we each go away and attempt to write our separate versions of the same story from the same angle in the same voice.

One week later, we meet and bring these two versions of the same chapter together. Often they are nothing like each other. However, there are usually some commonalities that we can build on in a first draft session.

We discuss this first document, which contains all parts of the two versions, and then mull it over separately for another week. When we come back together, we can see that we can make the chapter coherent by each of us agreeing to cut great chunks of paragraphs so that the pieces can be dovetailed into a new version.

We have selected a penname that illustrates this fluid transformative process. It contains changed parts of our names to create a third character, Rosy Stewart. It is almost as if she had written it. She is not a ghost writer, but a writing ghost.

What books do we read?

The books that we admire and have just finished reading include ‘Dombey and Son’ by Charles Dickens, because of its richness, characterisation, and because it reflects life and is a social commentary.

In the same way, we admire the realistic writing of Fred D’Aguiar about the Jonestown tragedy in ‘Children of Paradise’.

For light human modern English relief we enjoyed ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, because of its heart-warming tale of a personal epic journey.


About the Authors:

Rosy Stewart

Rosie Larner and Stuart Larner are a husband and wife writing partnership who live  in Yorkshire, UK.

Rosie is a retired social worker and lecturer in Health and Social Care. She was co-leader of a Drama Workshop that welcomed participants of all ages and abilities. She has directed and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Rosie writes prose, poetry and plays.


You can find Rosie on Facebook

Stuart  is a chartered psychologist, who worked in the UK Health Service for over thirty years, and was mental health expert in XL for Men magazine. He writes plays (“The Dilemma Advice Show,” Beach Hut Theatre 2012, “What Matters is What Floats,” Beach Hut Theatre 2013), poems, and stories. His previous book is the cricket novel “Guile and Spin”.


You can find Stuart on his blog


Hope- Stories from a women's refuge





 Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge by Rosy Stewart is out now and available on Amazon.