Rewind, recap: Weekly update w/e 08/08/19

Another week bites the dust. We’re racing towards the end of the year now and I have to be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything so far this year. It may sound melodramatic to say that, but it’s just been one of those years, you know? I’m reading less, walking less. Generally doing less of everything and I don’t know that I know why.

Don’t worry yourselves too much though. I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s probably a natural reaction to having changed jobs last year and everything in my life slowing down as a result. I don’t travel as much. Not so many early mornings. Definitely no late nights or fifty hour weeks. And no stress. Maybe I’ve relaxed a little too much, huh?

I’ve still read 105 books so far this year – one book every 2.5 days – which is quite a good total still all things considered. I was reading a book every 1.8 days last year which was probably unsustainable as I’m not a particularly fast reader. I like to think about what I am reading as I am doing it, and do not speed read at all. If I’m speed reading it means I’m bored and probably, in truth, skim reading, not taking in all that I see. That’s not good and I don’t like to do that. Yes – I can get through a book, maybe a couple of books, in a day, but that is without moving, eating or most likely sleeping. A standard book will take me around 7-8 hours to read. I’m not superwoman and I don’t wish to be. Fair play to those who can and do speed read, nowt wrong with it, but it’s just not me.

I will admit that I’m finding myself more and more distracted this year. By literally anything. Dust, clouds, pondering the meaning of life … It’s not a reflection of the quality of the books I am reading – there are some amazing titles out there right now and I wish I could read them all. It’s all me. I am at the stage where I am still suffering from blog fatigue. The thought of having to write a review, to find the special combination of words that will do a book, and an author’s efforts, justice, fills me with dread, even if I have loved the book. Especially when I have loved the book.

Right now, I feel like I am churning out the same crap over and over again and it is always a surprise when the author likes the post, or says I have captured exactly what they were trying to say. Most of the time I have no idea what I am trying to say so I’m always amazed I have managed to articulate anything comprehensible or accurate in my review. I’m sure that many bloggers will know exactly where I am coming from with that statement. I am currently sat with a list of around twelve reviews I need to write up. The backlog is all my own fault and some of the books I read weeks ago which adds more pressure. I just don’t know how or where to start.

I’m not sure how many people realise just how long it takes to prepare a post. By the time you’ve downloaded the cover art, perhaps made a bespoke banner for your post, got all the relevant buying links, hunted down an author bio where the publisher.publicist hasn’t bothered to supply one, uploaded the blog tour poster, the blurb, the author picture, the social media links … And that’s before you even start to try and write the review. Even this post takes 1-1.5 hours to prepare believe it or not.

I am fortunate to have a guest blogger in Mandie, however I still do all the above, just when it’s done I only have to cut and paste her words into the middle of it. Then there is the pressure to be original, to be funny (something I am definitely not) to be interesting (ditto to the last comment) and to provide original content whilst reviewing the same books as everyone else (so it feels) and coming under fire for being ‘biased’ or ‘untrustworthy’ because you happen to have been given the original copy of the book, at least in the eyes of some readers … You have to wonder why we do it which brings me back to my opening image …

But … then you get posts like the one written by Carol Wyer over the weekend (and you can find it here) where you realise that, at least in some quarters, what you do really is appreciated. The heartfelt thanks for featuring a cover reveal, or reviewing a book. The knowledge that someone has taken the time to read and appreciate what you have done. Most (not quite all sadly) book bloggers are in this to share the book love, and we don’t want fame or glory, but those little personal touches make it all worth while.

Sorry if this is a bit of a venting weekly round up, but sometimes you just have to. Better than bottling it all up. Right now my head is spinning with all the reviews I have to write (and I do want to write them as the books were excellent, and I owe the authors my thanks for having kept me entertained at the very least), my Netgalley backlog, the list of 190+ book books I own that I want to read, and the 700+ kindle titles that I have bought and am desperate to get to … All of that and I still have to go to work to earn a living as the miserable sodding lottery numbers keep coming out wrong … 😉

Recreation of my tbr by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

In other (less whiny and self pitying) news I went out this past week. Which, to be fair, probably didn’t help my tiredness as I didn’t get home until eleven. That’s quite late on a school night. I was lucky enough to receive an invite to the launch of Mark Hill and Mark Edwards latest novels, The Bad Place and Here to Stay. It was a fab evening and instead of the usual readings we were treated to a raffle with some very interesting prizes. As a Shropshire lass I was gutted (not) not to win the Wolverhampton edition Monopoly but there you go. Them’s the breaks. Bought a book though. As you do.

Obviously I didn’t have enough books so I bought a few more over the weekend too. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware; Talking With Psychopaths and Savages by Christopher Berry-Dee and Inside Broadmoor by Jonathan Levi and Emma French.

I may * also have pre-ordered eight Orenda titles for 2020. (* did – I did order eight Orenda titles for 2020 …) They are: A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone; Beast by Matt Wesolowski; Death Deserved by Thomas Enger; Containment by Vanda Symon; Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz; Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb; I Am Dust by Louise Beech and Sister by Kjell Ola Dahl. I’m not sharing the covers here as I am not certain which have and haven’t had their official reveals yet, but all can be found over . at Amazon if you want a look. Just click on the titles above.

Two new Netgalley titles this week. The Six by Luca Veste and The Burning Men by Will Shindler. Both look excellent. No book post though. Nobody loves me anymore … Which is probably a very, very good thing.

Books I have read

Cradle to Grave – Rachel Amphlett

When a faceless body is found floating in the river on a summer’s morning, Detective Kay Hunter and her team are tasked with finding out the man’s identity – and where he came from.

The investigation takes a sinister turn when an abandoned boat is found, covered in blood stains and containing a child’s belongings.

Under mounting pressure from a distraught family and an unforgiving media, the police are in a race against time – but they have no leads, and no motive for the events that have taken place.

Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

Cradle to Grave is the eighth book in the Detective Kay Hunter series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett, and perfect for readers who love fast-paced murder mysteries.

The Shape of Night – Tess Gerritsen

We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of . . .

When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.

But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.

The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?

The Colorado Kid – Stephen King

Stephen King’s bestselling unsolved mystery, THE COLORADO KID – inspiration for the TV series HAVEN — returns to bookstores for the first time in 10 years in an all-new illustrated edition.

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There’s no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues, and it’s more than a year before the man is identified. And that’s just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still…? No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained.

With echoes of Dashiell Hammett’s THE MALTESE FALCON and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world’s great storytellers presents a moving and surprising tale whose subject is nothing less than the nature of mystery itself…

Bad Turn – Zoe Sharp

One bad turn…deserves another.

Charlie Fox has quit her job in close protection, been turned out of her apartment, and is apparently out of options.

House-sitting in rural New Jersey has to be the pits—TV and TV dinners. A far cry from Iraq… Bulgaria… Afghanistan. Unlucky or not, she happens to be around at the right time to foil a violent kidnap attempt on Helena, wife of billionaire arms dealer, Eric Kincaid.

Kincaid offers her a job looking after Helena. The rumours about Kincaid’s business empire say he’s gone over to the dark side, but Charlie is in no position to be fussy. And protecting people against those who want to do them harm is what she’s good at. But when the threats against the Kincaids escalate, and then follow the couple over to Europe, Charlie’s really going to have to up her game. It’s time to take the fight to the enemy.

Charlie’s at her best putting an end to trouble. Now she must learn to strike first. And hope that the Kincaids don’t discover the secret she’s been keeping from them, right from the start.

I actually only read three as Cradle to Grave is the book I couldn’t tell you about last week, but I’ll take it. It’s better than none. Busy week on the blog, recap below:

Review – In The Absence Of Miracles – Michael J Malone
Extract – The Nursery – Asia MacKay
Review – The Bad Place – M.K. Hill
Review – The Serial Dater’s Shopping List – Morgen Bailey
Cover Reveal – Remember Me – Amy McLellan
Review – Blood Song – Johana Gustawsson
Cover Reveal – Cradle To Grave – Rachel Amphlett
Review – The Sleepover – Carol Wyer

The week ahead is pretty busy. Blog tour posts for Heart in the Right Home by Lisa Hill, No Man’s Land by Neil Broadfoot, Endgame by Daniel Cole, Degrees of Guilt by H.S. Chandler and Trial By Battle by David Piper.

So that is you lot. I have a week off from bookishness this week – all work, probably a lot of review catch up, and some reading (if I have time). Which is just as well as I have two festivals fast approaching, Bloody Scotland and Capital Crime so I’m going to need my rest.

See you next week when hopefully I will be a little more cheerful and a lot more caught up on my reviews. Have a fab week of reading.


10 thoughts on “Rewind, recap: Weekly update w/e 08/08/19

  1. Jen, you are one heck of a book blogger and a massive support to so many. Not only that, you write truly entertaining reviews that have on several occasions resulted in massive smiles and my TBR pile getting completely out of hand! You are very much appreciated and one of my highlights this year was to actually meet you. I understand why you might feel the way you do – overwhelmed and unappreciated. It’s true those book posts take ages to upload… and as for writing a review! It takes me longer to do that than to pitch a new novel idea, so I ‘get’ it – big time. I can only repeat myself when I say were it not for bloggers like you, we authors would have no champions for our work. Whether you read one book a week or one and hour, and blog about it – you are still a champion. Be kind to yourself. Don’t overdo it. I’d hate to see you be beaten by it all. On anther note – I HAVE to get that Tess Gerritsen novel now… see – you are to blame for my huge cupboard of unread books! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Carol. You are one of the most supportive authors and it’s always a pleasure to help where I can in terms of publicising your work. The support you show to bloggers is amazing and it was great to meet you finally too.

      This is been a funny old year and I think I’m just struggling to find my rhythm. It feels bad when I know I should be reading or probably reviewing but all I want to do is sleep.

      PS – sorry about the book thing but it’s a fun book and probably not what people will be expecting …


  2. Actually, Jen, your weekly round up is one of my blogging highlights of the week. I love reading what you’ve been up to and it’s never the same old crap. I agree about blogging fatigue and send you my sympathy! Maybe your heart wants you to write and not read…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Linda. I’m not sure what is up with me this year but I’m just not feeling it. Perhaps it’s an increase in pressure to always leave a review when there is so much more we could be doing to publicise a book than that. I know they say that reviews are important but in this age of increasing cynicism and seeing more and more comments of ‘I never read reviews’ I’m not entirely convinced they are all they are made out to be. I get far more traffic on none review posts …

      You might be right about the writing not reading thing. Too many ideas bustling around my head. Only three more guaranteed reads left for the year right now so I guess we will see …


  3. Your week sounds very productive to me Jen (even if you don’t think so). I read only one book as most of the week I spent in a Dilaudid haze. After a coughing fit I popped some of my interior stitches –
    though thankfully my outer staples held fast.
    The book I read was “The Scholar” which I loved. The second in Dervla McTiernan’s excellent series. Can’t yet sit at the computer for any length of time, so haven’t yet written my review.
    I empathize with your blogger burnout sentiments. I too often wonder if my valiant efforts are worth it, and if anyone would really be arsed if I stopped.
    My husband thinks I spend far too much of my time blogging.
    With close to 200 review commitments I don’t feel like I have the right to stop…
    I’ve found myself in a trap of my own making. What a predicament!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, Lynne. Sorry your recovery isn’t going to plan. Hope you’re feeling a lot better soon.

      You’re right. It’s all too easy to over commit. I really want to help people out and celebrate their books, as writing and publishing one is such an achievement, but when saying yes starts to hurt your ability to read it’s not doing anyone any favours. I’ve walked Way from a lot of books I’d have liked to read this year, and no doubt will walk away from many more, but it’s hard.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Jen you always manage to put into words many of the feelings I have. Write woman…write. You have an incredible way with words. And yes I agree with you..Carol’s piece was just so appreciated. You take care Jen. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mairead. Its been a funny old year. Think I feel as though I’ve been in a funk for months now. Need to work my way out. Maybe writing is the answer!


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