Sunday Post #4

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at @ Caffeinated Reviewer. 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. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.


Another week, another Sunday. I’m writing this feeling a little sleep deprived as I haven’t slept much this weekend – but not by choice. I’m having another insomnia flare-up, which I haven’t had for a while. They tend to come and go in spouts. I think it’s because I’ve been feeling more anxious than usual, and I’ve neglected writing in my journal and the importance of gradually winding down in the evenings – which always helps.

It’s been a strange week – again, I haven’t published too much but I have still been writing every day, although the word count is down on last week. I averaged around 1000 words a day this week, compared to my usual 2000. I don’t stick religiously to a word count, but I think it’s good to have an idea of how much you are writing to help you stay on track.

I’ve been doing my first bit of copywriting for a small company based in London and I’ve been enjoying it so far. It’s freelance and technically my first paid writing job which is exciting and a step forward. I get to learn about completely random things like antique carpets and cloud software but it’s strangely satisfying!

I’ve had some more success on Medium – I’ve now been named as a top writer in their reading and books categories, which is exciting and completely unexpected. Having only been on the platform for a month I didn’t think I would get this much recognition so quickly. I have been loving writing over there and it’s really improved my confidence.

It was my 23rd birthday last Wednesday, which passed in a haze. It was a strange lockdown birthday but still a nice day. We got a takeaway and I did lots of reading, it was nice. I saw my family from a distance yesterday and was able to celebrate with a cake (but I didn’t blow the candles out in the usual way!) and nice food. It’s the little things these days.

It’s meant to heat up again next week just when we thought Summer was over. I hope it doesn’t get too hot, I’m ready for winter now.


This Week on the Blog

Surviving Another Year Around the Sun

Book Review: Alone Together

Book Review: Salvation Station

This Week – Elsewhere

10 Books to Read in 2020, Books Are Our Superpower, Medium

Reviewing my First Month on Medium

Currently Reading

Quiet, Susan Cain

I’ve always known I was an introvert, so I thought I better read this book. I fancied reading some more non-fiction so I decided to pick this up.

I’ve only read about 50 pages so far, but have already learnt some pretty interesting things. Van Gogh was an introvert, as is Bill Gates! It starts with a discussion about how American culture and society grew to prioritise extroversion, and how this is gradually changing as we alter our misconceptions about introversion and shyness.

I think I’ll learn a lot about myself with this one.

Such a Fun Age, Kiley Reid

When the Booker Prize nominees were announced a while ago, this was the only book I thought I would like the sound of, so I decided to read it.

The story begins with Emira, a young, African-American babysitter, who gets accosted at her local supermarket for looking after a white child. The security guard in a racially motivated attack accuses her of kidnapping the child and she is forced to call the father.

It follows the perspective of Emira, and her employer, a famous blogger called Alix Chamberlain.

I’m really enjoying it so far and it hooked me straight away!


I really haven’t been reading that many articles this week, so I will leave out my favourite articles for the week – hopefully there will be some to include next time.

Please note – this post does contain Amazon affiliate links and if you choose to use them, I will earn a small fee but this doesn’t impact my review in anyway.

Book Review: Salvation Station

Firstly, many thanks to She Writes Press and Book Publicity Services for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Salvation Station, Crime Fiction

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

“When committed female police captain Linda Turner, haunted by the murders of two small children and their pastor father, becomes obsessed with solving the harrowing case, she finds herself wrapped up in a mission to expose a fraudulent religious organization and an unrepentant killer.
 
Despite her years of experience investigating homicides for the force, Captain Linda Turner is haunted by the murders of the Hansen family. The two small children, clothed in tattered Disney pajamas, were buried with their father, a pastor, in the flower garden behind a church parsonage in Lincoln, Nebraska. But Mrs. Hansen is nowhere to be found—and neither is the killer.
 
In St. Louis, the televangelist Ray Williams is about to lose his show—until one of his regular attendees approaches him with an idea that will help him save it. Despite his initial misgivings, Ray agrees to give it a try. He can’t deny his attraction to this woman, and besides, she’d assured him the plan is just—God gave her the instructions in a dream.
 
Multiple story lines entwine throughout this compelling mystery, delving into the topics of murder, religious faith, and the inherent dangers in blindly accepting faith as truth. While Reverend Williams is swept up in his newfound success and plans for his wedding, Captain Turner can only hope that she and her team will catch the Hansens’ cunning killer—before more bodies surface.”


Combining a classic whodunit and an exploration of Christianity and blind faith, Kathryn Schleich in her debut novel, creates a unique and gripping read. Schleich combines multiple story-lines to uncover the corruption and horror at the heart of a devout Church community in Nebraska.

The Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Do not be deceived by the disturbing front cover depicting a plastic doll, left abandoned in the leaves. This book despite appearances is not a horror story, but rather, a classic crime fiction whodunit. I had my reservations when I started, as the cover led me to think it would be more of a horror/thriller, but alas, it wasn’t.

The first thing that stood out to me, was that the lead police investigator was a woman, which I loved. Of course, there are some writers within the genre that feature female leads, like Kay Scarpetta in Patricia Cornwell’s novels, but even then, Scarpetta is the chief medical examiner, rather than the lead police role.

It was so refreshing to see and made a change from having a typically male leading character as the head of police. The story features different perspectives, but Linda Turner and Reverend Ray Williams are the main narrators. I got on with Linda as a character and valued her honesty and commitment to solving the horrific crime.

Schleich has an eye for creating great characters. Ray Williams, the Reverend and host of The Road to Calvary, a hit evangelist organization, soon to be a successful TV commercial, is very likeable. Although gullible and a bit haphazard, Ray desperately cares about his local community.

Susannah comes into Ray’s life out of the blue and goes headfirst into wanting to improve The Road to Calvary. Ray falls in love with her ambition and readiness to help, and their relationship blossoms, but all is not what it seems. Susannah from the off is dislikable in her manipulation of Ray – but she also makes him happy, so what’s the problem?

Having a range of good characters for me is key in any good story, and Schleich definitely provides this.

The plot is simple, mirrored on a classic whodunit premise. The reader is hit with a dark and ominous feeling at the beginning and this is continued right through to the end. The chapters are short and sharp and give a sense of pace – which I liked. Aside from the gripping beginning, the novel isn’t suspenseful and not a page-turner by classic definition – but I was so invested that I didn’t need an added incentive to keep reading.

Moreover, I liked the way it wasn’t just a crime novel. Using The Road to Calvary, and other religious overtones, Schleich can make a poignant comment on religion and the notion of blind faith. The story and community in which Ray, Linda and Susannah are a part of, is religious and benevolent by nature, but of course, this is a false misconception.

Without saying too much – the ending was dramatic and satisfying. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good crime fiction novel with a twist, and for fans of police procedurals.

Please note – this post does contain Amazon affiliate links and if you choose to use them, I will earn a small fee but this doesn’t impact my review in anyway.


Book Review: Alone Together

Many thanks to NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing for providing me with an e-ARC to review this book. I’m a bit late in finishing it, but the book is now available to buy from all your usual retailers!

Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19

Non-fiction

Goodreads Synopsis

ALONE TOGETHER: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews to serve as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during this stressful time of isolation as well as a historical perspective that will remain relevant for years to come. All contributing authors and business partners are donating their share to The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community.


The Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Six months on from the beginning of a global pandemic, it seems a bit early to be reflecting on the experience. Yes, we’ve all experienced a lot in these months, but with second waves springing up across Europe and elsewhere, it feels like the worst is yet to come.

With the publication of Zadie Smith’s Limitations and this, Covid memoirs are now already on the rise. Should we already be writing our experiences of this pandemic when there is so much more to come? Yes and no, I’m not sure of the answer.

I was sceptical about reading Alone Together, a book that combines experiences of the pandemic from 91 authors. I was worried it would be a bit preemptive, and it was to a certain extent, as it only covers the first few months of what is set to be a long-term pandemic. There are natural limitations to this, as it’s an ongoing experience.

However, I was surprised at the volume and diversity of experience this collection of poems, essays, interviews and personal stories manages to convey. It was never going to be an easy book to read – so I read it in small, regulated doses over a month. I enjoyed it more than I thought – and gained a lot from learning about the range of experiences the book shines a light on.


Covid-19 has affected the whole world, but this book reminds us that every experience of the pandemic has been different. “Today we may all be required to wear a mask. But our masks are unequal.” (W. Ralph Eubanks) Which is part of the beauty of the book. It gives voices to the multitude of different experiences of the pandemic and the range of difficulties faced. From caring for loved ones, trying to home-school and overall – just trying to stay sane and afloat in our tumultuous world. It’s a book about every felt aspect of the pandemic – love, loss, grief, comfort, connecting, and moving forward.


Although it is American-centric, as a UK reader, it shines a light onto the experience of Covid-19 from across the pond. It features words from 91 writers that I had never heard of and I found myself Googling authors and adding their books to my TBR list – you could say I learnt a lot about new writers. Alongside every poem, essay or interview is a brief description of the author and their works which I found useful and noteworthy


I found the essays to be the most enjoyable to read. Although only ever a few pages long, I felt it gave a more in-depth view to understanding the person’s experience of the pandemic. They were all beautifully written, as they would be, but deeply insightful.


The entire book is self-reflective by nature and harrowing at times to read – since we are still very much living through it. Although preemptive, readers will gain a lot from reading this. It will become one of those books that are studied when trying to make sense of our current history. Hopefully future historians will realise the diversity at the heart of experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please note – this post does contain Amazon affiliate links and if you choose to use them, I will earn a small fee but this doesn’t impact my review in anyway.


Surviving Another Year Around the Sun

I’m never one for making a big deal out of birthdays. The more I have of them, the more I want to ignore them. I know I’m only young, but I’ve always feared getting old.

23 feels like the beginning of getting older, or of life getting more serious. I thought I’d write a sort of self reflection post, but I don’t really know where I’m going with it. This might be one that ends up being deleted.

I was thinking the other day that I haven’t done much in a year. Sure, I finished university and graduated but since last September I haven’t really achieved much. I started a job I loved, finished that one, started another job and then furlough happened and I’m back to square one.

I haven’t got that ‘proper’ job that everyone speaks of and I still don’t know when I will. I guess my younger self always thought I would have it together by this age and be a proper adult. But what does a proper adult even mean?

Time is a strange thing and it means different things to everyone. Some people want to get married in their twenties and have children straight away, whereas others want to wait. I’m not in a rush, but I do wish my life had a bit more momentum and I was somewhat closer to being where I want to.

But I can’t blame myself for that, Covid happened out of the blue and was never something I could control. And I have been making steps and pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and that’s what matters, right?

The next few years are going to be a hard one to try and start a career in and it feels like our generation has faced obstacle after obstacle (nearly two global recessions now, come on) so this year I’m not going to be too hard on myself and I’m going to celebrate every small achievement.

I may be 23, but that doesn’t mean I have to have my whole life together – it just feels that way due to societal pressures and expectations.

Bu I do have things to be proud of.

I’ve been brave enough to put myself all over the internet in the form of blog posts, articles and writing on Medium. First year university me would never have been this bold, maybe not even third year university me. I’ve gained a certain amount of confidence with my writing but I’m nowhere near there yet – but it’s a journey, right?

I feel like I am managing my anxiety better than I used to. At university I used to let it just take hold of me. But now I make the effort and I’m learning about what’s best for me. Having a slower pace to life since the pandemic has definitely helped, and so has rediscovering journaling.

I think in a way I have channeled myself more this year, as I’ve been able to do things I lost track of at university. Like reading, writing and just being. I haven’t found myself fully yet, but apparently that happens more as you go into your 20s…

I’m by no means perfect or where I want to be yet – but that’s okay. I survived another year – and that’s enough to celebrate in itself.

It’s also Hugh Grant’s birthday today, so happy birthday to him (he’s 60!)

Sunday Post #3 A Hint of Autumn

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted at @ Caffeinated Reviewer. 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. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.


This week has been a strange one. I feel like I’ve been writing a lot (everyday bar one) but I haven’t actually published a lot – but that’s okay, you don’t have to publish everyday.

I think the key to it all is having a backlog of things ready to publish, so when you have days where you don’t want to write – you can still have that presence. I mean, I think that’s how it works, but what would I know…

I’ve been concentrating heavily on growing my audience over on Medium, which is proving to be difficult! I got my first ever payment this month which totaled $1.34 which I thought was quite impressive for my first month, having only posted 8 articles. Their system of paying their writers is far more efficient than WordPress and fair – it’s not reliant on AD revenue at all, but people reading your writing and interacting with you. I think eventually I may fully transition over there, but that won’t be any time soon, and I’ll always keep this blog in some capacity.

I’ve been enjoying witnessing the slow beginnings of Autumn. As soon as we came back from wild camping it seemed that overnight we had already transitioned into Autumn, with darker nights and crisper mornings. I’m the kind of person who thrives in the Autumn so I really look forward to it, no more oppressive heat and sweaty days. But it’s also my birthday next week, and one of the first times I’m not looking forward to it.. as I’ll be 23 and that seems just a little too old for my liking.


This Week on the Blog (not much, granted)

What I’ve Learned from Writing Book Reviews

Should Book-Lovers be Boycotting Goodreads?

This Week – Elsewhere

Why You Should Read More Literary Fiction From the Library, Medium

Dealing with Self Doubt as a New Writer The Innovation, Medium

Climate Change Is Real, but so Is Classism, Backbench UK


Currently Reading

I’m actually reading the same titles as I was last week, but very near the end of both! So I’m still reading, Alone Together, which I really love, it’s been fascinating to read a more American experience of the pandemic and how writers have been able to write about it in a number of ways – through personal stories, reflections and poetry.

I’m half way through Salvation Station, which again I’m really enjoying. It took me a while to get into at first as there was a lot going on but I’m really into it now and am gradually making the connections between characters.

I unfortunately gave up on Contacts, not because I disliked the story or anything like that, I was just struggling with the content. It’s a book about suicide and how that plays out on the people you know, and it was just a little too close to home for me so I decided to stop reading it. Maybe in a year or so I’ll pick it up again and be able to enjoy it better. Remember, there’s never any shame in giving up on a book, sometimes it just happens.


Favourite Articles of the Week

September Thoughts ~ beetleypete

What They Don’t Tell You About Being A Travel Writer ~ Stuart Danker, I Write Stuff

How to Mine Your Life for Story Ideas ~ Ashley Shannon, Medium

How Reading Fiction Can Make You A Better Ally ~ Casira Copes, Medium

How Journaling in Public Is Changing My Life ~ Sílvia Bastos, Medium

Have a great week!

Please note – this post does contain Amazon affiliate links and if you choose to use them, I will earn a small fee but this doesn’t impact my review in anyway.