Birthday Book Buys

I am so excited by my birthday purchases. But why did I choose these books?

Miss Marple and Mystery: The Complete Short Stories - Miss Marple (Paperback)Miss Marple and Mystery: Over 50 Stories by Agatha Christie




While I was away at Christmas, the house that we stayed in had a book with a selection of Agatha Christie short stories. I’ve never read any of her work before (although I have probably seen most of the stories on TV). I really enjoyed those stories and was excited to see these collection. I grabbed it straight away.


The Red House Mystery (Paperback)The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne




This book jumped off the shelves and into my hands without me even getting a chance to read the blurb. I knew I wanted to experience A. A. Milne writing something different. I have no idea what I am getting myself into with this one (other than it is a mystery) and I am excited to find out!



Sky Song (Paperback)Sky Song by Abi Elphinston




I admit that one reason I picked this up was because of online hype. I haven’t read anything for this age group (9-12) in a while and I am excited to dive in. It also has the added advantage of being the age group my NaNoWriMo novel is aimed at so it is sort of research too.



The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - The Polar Bear Explorers' Club (Paperback)

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell




This is another book I heard about on Twitter. It is beautiful and I can’t wait to get started on this one either. I need to spend some time figuring out my #tbrlist reading order!





I Don’t Enjoy Reading

I have an English degree. 

I am a qualified English teacher. 

I don’t enjoy reading. 

For the purpose of this post, reading is the act of moving your eyes across a page of a book and taking in the words that lay there.

For me, the act of reading is stressful. I don’t use that word lightly, it is actually a condition.

My Reading Habits at School

The first time I remember actively reading for pleasure was on holiday when I was about 12. I was seriously bored. There was no TV in the villa and because this was 20 years ago WiFi wasn’t an option either. Like often happens in such places, there were some books that had been left behind by past occupants. I picked up a John Grisham book, I want to say it was ‘Runaway Jury’ but I can’t be sure. I would read it for hours on end and really enjoyed it. Although, I would skim read it. And I never made it to the end.

English was always my favourite subject at school and yet if we didn’t read the entirety of a book in lessons, then I wouldn’t finish it. But talking about the story? Talking about language? That I could do all day. I was able to riff off what other people were saying to ask questions and make inferences without having read the full text.


We weren’t a family of readers either. Don’t get me wrong, my parents read to me and supported me with school, but they didn’t read for pleasure unless they were sitting by the side of a pool. Reading wasn’t a part of everyday life.

I took English to A-Level (I did a combined Language and Literature course) and then read Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Kent.

It was at university that I thought I would need glasses. I would get really tired eyes and headaches from reading four different texts each week. I found an optician who was willing to give me a very mild prescription to make reading easier for me.

The Problem

Cut to five years later and I am training to be a teacher. We are being shown texts written in such as way as to simulate what it is like to be dyslexic in the classroom.

I started crying.

Oh god. Was I about to find out that I hadn’t just been lazy but I had been dyslexic all along? How had I made it 27, survived a grammar school and a bachelors degree without anyone picking this up?

Thankfully Brighton University had suitable funding for me to be able to be tested and it all happened really quickly. It turns out that I am not dyslexic but I have something that sometimes forms part of that diagnosis.

I have Irlen Syndrome (also known as visual stress so I wasn’t exaggerating earlier when I said reading was stressful).

If you follow this link you can read more about it. At the top of the screen you can change the page colour. I like the greeny colour towards the middle of the options.

It sounds strange, but when I read with a green overlay it is more comfortable for me. It is like my eyes sigh in relief when I put the overlay there.

In an effort to overcome Irlen while at university I developed the skill of speed reading. Typically I don’t read for more than about 20 minutes at a time (and lying in bed) so I tend to not bother with the overlay and simply skim through. My current reads tend to be pretty stress-free in terms of font size, paper quality and spacing so that helps as well.

If I am reading during the day, or for longer periods, I will pull out my overlay and make things more comfortable for me.

For me isn’t so much about the reading, as the love of the story. Stories are how we learn, how we grow and how we escape.

Books I Binged in 2017

This time last year I hadn’t read any of the Dresden Files. Now I have read all 15 of them.

While there have been other books I have read this year, the bulk of my ‘read’ list on Goodreads for 2017 are Dresden Files.

Chris and I listened to the first book ‘Storm Front’ while driving down to see family and from there I read on before bed. One book after another for months on end.

I think the fact that Spike James Masters does the voice helped to cement the vision of Dresden I have in my head. I don’t know why he wears a hat on the book covers, he doesn’t in the narrative.

But how do you review books when you have read them in such quick succession like this? As I was reading them I wasn’t thinking about that. I was more interested in getting through them as they were such pulpy fun reads. I would struggle to tell you which book what bit happened in, but I do think there are three distinct eras of Dresden that would make it easier to review.

1 – The first three books

2 – Before ‘Changes’

3 – From ‘Changes’ onwards

I will pop those reviews on my to-do list in the fancy new notebook I got for Christmas!

Will there be more variety in my reading in 2018? I would like to think so but as most of my reading happens before bed I don’t like to pick anything too challenging. Quick and easy reads are my go to with my life currently.

The important thing is that I keep reading.






NaNo Next Steps

One thing I learned during NaNoWriMo last month was that writing about your writing can often be harder than actually writing your writing. Sometimes it is easier to communicate through the medium of GIF.

The same also applies when you have a head cold and your brain is working in a much more visual way than usual.

Last weekend I decided I was going to try and figure out what I had to work with now the dust had settled on my story. Here is what I found:

It became clear to me that I needed one of these:

Not that I was giving up on the story I just needed to stop feeling like this about it:

It wasn’t long before an outline came together and I was able to plant text from my NaNo draft into that outline.

That’s what first drafts are for, fixing those plot holes and those parts where you have just shoved something in and hoped for the best. My story has evolved so much already and who knows what it will end up looking like. I’m excited to find out!

REBLOGGED from a site I no longer maintain. 

When Couples Do NaNoWriMo

A Twitter Journey

During October…

*on Don’t you hate it when you misspell in a tweet?

Our Romantic Getaway

I would love to say that the wit continued but there was break in #CouplesDoNaNoWriMo while you know, we did NaNoWriMo!

REBLOGGED from a site I no longer maintain.