Category Archives: Everything Else

Reading Challenge 2017 – Week 8 

Week 8 of my Reading Challenge is a book I like by someone who isn’t a writer. This was tricky as anything fictional is obviously written by a writer and a lot of the non fiction books I’ve read are written by other types of writers such as journalists. In the end I settled on my favourite comedienne’s book; part autobiography, part life lessons, Miranda Hart’s Is it Just Me? 

A hilarious tale of Miranda’s awkward experiences from strangers fondling your feet (pedicure) to using chopsticks and sitting elegantly on a bar stool. 


Miranda gives us what she refers to as ‘an attempt at the manual’ on how to cope with becoming, and then surviving as an adult. 


This book is laugh out loud funny and I cannot recommend it enough, even if you don’t usually like this sort of thing I can guarantee you will find this funny and love it from beginning to end. 

Author Interview – Helen Callaghan 

This month I had the privilege of interviewing the lovely Helen Callaghan, author of bestselling psychological crime thriller Dear Amy. You can read my review of Dear Amy here:http://ow.ly/NeVl30aMdEI

Not only has Helen been kind enough to share her experiences as an author, she is also giving away a signed copy of Dear Amy to one lucky reader of this interview. All you need to do is retweet this post to be in with a chance to win. 

1) What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’ve always written, is the short answer. I started doing it in a sustained way from my early teens onwards – by the time I left secondary school, the plan was that I was going to be a writer, and I’ve pretty much kept to it. The first draft of “Dear Amy” was completed nearly thirty years ago. For most of my life I was a bookseller, specialising in fiction, which is a fantastic job for a booklover, albeit not very well paid. But while I loved it, as time passed I started to get a little restless. I thought I’d like to get a degree, and so I studied for my A-levels at night school and ended up graduating in Archaeology (which has proven very useful, as the third book is going to be about archaeologists). 

After I graduated, I got into technical writing – producing software documentation, which is every bit as interesting as it sounds. For years I would write that during the day and during my commute and evenings I would write the novels. It was all very hard work, but great in a way, because I joined writing groups and made great friends who shared my passion for fiction. 

2) What are your ambitions for your writing? 

I’d like to keep writing the psychological thrillers which I really enjoy. The process of creating them is very cathartic, because it’s about exploring what scares me – I find crime infinitely more frightening than the supernatural, for instance. At the moment I’m concentrating on the psychological thrillers because “Dear Amy” has been so well-received and my energy is there at the moment.

But that said, for years I wrote more speculative fiction. At some point I do have projects there I would love to revisit…
3) Which writers inspire you? 

Oh, there’s so many! I love the Brontes, Jane Austen, and every weird and obscure Gothic novel ever. When I was a teenager I was a huge fan of Angela Carter and my favourite guilty pleasure was Anne Rice. The writer that most inspired me was probably Iain Banks – I admired him hugely. He always took bold narrative risks in his books and at signings and events he was always the writer I most aspired to emulate. 

4) How much research went into writing Dear Amy? Where did the idea come from? 

It was really strange, as other things I’ve written have come together in bits and pieces, but the idea for Dear Amy appeared wholesale – I knew the heroine’s name, her dilemma, and its resolution. I wrote the first draft in a white heat, in just over two months. 

This, of course, was pre-internet and the research was practically non-existent. When I wrote the new draft, the need to do the research was part of what made it take so long. Some of that research was quite harrowing, such as the oversight that girls in care get compared to other girls, but some of it was very enjoyable. I got to do a lot of fun stuff, like visit houses that I would base the Grove upon. 


5) Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

I am! Well, two new things. Book Two went off to my editor a week ago, and I’ve started work on Book Three. Book Two is hopefully going to appear later this year – it’s the story of Sophia, who comes home from London to find that her mother appears to have committed suicide. As she tries to process this, she learns that her mother had been in a cult in her youth, and had recently been trying to publish a book on her experiences; a book that other ex-members of the cult would prefer not to exist. It doesn’t have a name yet, but the working title is “Morningstar”. 

Book Three is about an archaeologist, Fiona, who is invited up to join her friend Madison on her dig in the Orkney Islands (and also to emotionally support her as she’s split up after a tempestuous relationship with her long-distance boyfriend). But once she arrives, she discovers that not only has Madison vanished, but she appears to have been on online dating sites using Fiona’s picture and details… and beyond that, I don’t think I’ll say too much more!


6) What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

Mostly I work on my computer, but sometimes, if something is giving me trouble, I’ll take a notebook and a pen out with me and tackle it on the page. I like the freedom that paper and pen gives me to get things wrong, and the way that it shows my working – I can cross things out, move them round, and see the process in a way that you can’t do with the computer. It also gives me permission to get things wrong, which is so important. 

8) How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I do set myself a daily target – a thousand words. One of the most peculiar things that I learned about myself when I started writing full time is that the fact that I have so much more time does not, in any way, shape, or form, translate into more writing. 
However, when it is on fire, I can burn through it – and then you raise your head and it’s two, three in the morning, and it’s all passed by in the blink of an eye. That is the best feeling in the world – when you are so immersed in it you can’t feel the time pass.


9) What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I didn’t really choose – or rather, circumstances had chosen for me. In 2009, I wrote a novel called Mephistophela – it was an SF thriller. 

2009 was what they called “interesting times” in the publishing world. Back then, indie publishing was still very much a developing field but had exploded outwards, as Amazon had opened the floodgates. Accordingly, a lot of the early stuff was of very variable quality – people were still feeling their way in terms of the importance of copy-editing, professional covers, etc. Nobody was quite sure what the marketing channels would be, what would work, how the good stuff would distinguish itself in the face of the sheer quantity of self-published books that were now appearing.

Traditional publishing was also panicking, I remember – people weren’t sure if print publishing (and print publishers) would go the way of the dinosaur. It was nearly impossible to sell anything to a traditional publisher at the time.


Mephistophela
didn’t sell ultimately, but it generated a lot of interest from agents, and Judith Murray at Greene and Heaton, who took me on, stuck with me while it and then my next novel also didn’t take. When you’re represented by an agent, you’re nearly always looking at a traditional publishing deal – and that’s what I was submitted for. The second novel was a big, complicated epic based in multiple parallel universes, and the feedback was that it was quite a difficult project for a debut. They weren’t sure about it, but they liked me, apparently. 

So in late 2013, Judith asked me what else I had on my plate. I’d mentioned that years ago I’d completed a psychological thriller and she suggested dusting that off, giving it a light edit, and then running it past publishers that had liked the previous work, but hadn’t bitten. It was a job that would take perhaps eight weeks, at most.
Of course, the minute I opened the old files, I realised it would take a lot longer than that – the more you write, the more you develop, and I was gazing into a snapshot of how I wrote thirty years ago! In the end it took thirteen months to prepare the new draft, but when I did, there was an auction and it sold in ten days. 

I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t, in many ways. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. 


10) How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

I’m lucky in that Michael Joseph handle the marketing and PR side of things, and they are astonishingly creative people. They have amazing ideas – for instance, when the proofs for Dear Amy came out, they mocked up copies of letters from the book and tied them to the proofs with twine. They got me media appearances and blog opportunities and took me around to meet booksellers, which is easily the nicest way to spend a day when you’re a writer, as it involves being in bookstores. 

For my own part, I have a website with a blog, and a Twitter and Facebook page. Easily the biggest marketing hit for me is Twitter, as I can interact with people who liked the book, retweet reviews and event news, etc. It’s quite time-consuming to do properly, and it means I can’t use Twitter as the same timewasting opportunity that I used to, but it does reward the time I spend on it. 

On the other hand, I’ve not updated the blog in a while, and nobody’s crying out for it. I think that running a blog is its own specialist and very demanding thing, and readers are more likely to frequent review blogs or aggregate blogs than author blogs (I’m exactly the same myself). I keep wanting to relaunch it, as I do enjoy writing the articles for it, but the last nine months have just been mental and it’s not really justifying how timeconsuming maintaining it would be. Perhaps when Morningstar comes out I’ll relaunch it. 


11) If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

Ooh, that’s a tough one! I could guarantee I would give you different answers from one day to the next! Tonight though, I feel like it’s ‘The Secret History” by Donna Tartt. There is something very cold, clever and cruel in it – it is a perfect meditation on crime and punishment.


12) What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 

I was thinking about this recently, funnily enough. I worked out that my own book purchasing justifications break down as roughly: 

40% drifting through the bookstore/browsing a publisher’s email newsletters and thinking “Oh, that sounds like a cool thing to read”

40% personal recommendations

20% reviews. 

As a writer, however, my relationship with my reviews is naturally a bit more complicated. I remember reading my first bad review and it was as though a complete stranger had come up to me and slapped me. But of course, nobody writes a book that everybody loves – anything with any texture is going to rub at least one person up the wrong way. 

Like everyone else, I’ve read books that I don’t reckon are much cop, and yet they become massive international bestsellers regardless. But in all of those instances (and there aren’t that many of them), the book hasn’t succeeded because it is a good book, but rather because it is offering some unfiltered, unadulterated experience that readers can’t get elsewhere. It’s worth being attentive to what that offering is, and why it is so popular. There’s always a tension between what we enjoy reading and what is good for us, or rather, what we publicly admit to, and studying the gap between those things is often instructive. 

You can buy Helen’s debut novel Dear Amy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019DD8CPE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

You can also find Helen on the following social media pages: 

Website: http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk

Twitter: @hecallaghan

Facebook (author page not personal): [https://www.facebook.com/hecallaghanauthor/]

Blog: http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk 

Goodreads: [https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6277538.Helen\_Callaghan]

Amazon author page: [https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B001KE8XFY]

Thank you so much Helen for taking part in my monthly author interview and sharing your experience as a bestselling author! 

Welcome to Booktube 

Recently I’ve taken the plunge and joined Youtube. It’s something I’d always thought about doing and originally I was going to film my reviews and book related pieces rather than write them. But confidence got in the way a lot and instead I struck out into the book reviewing world as a blogger instead of a vlogger. To be completely honest I’m really glad I did. I love my blog and (don’t panic) it’s definitely not going anywhere! It’s still going to be updated just as often, the only difference is that I now have a YouTube channel to support my blog for the things I’d like to talk about rather than write about. 


So I wanted to write a little bit about my bokktubing experience so far. It’s very early days so this in no way a ‘how to booktube’ post or even a post from someone who is highly experienced in Booktube. That said, as a newbie I think I can offer some (hopefully) helpful information about what starting a booktube channel involves, and what to expect from the early days. 


The first thing any new Booktuber needs to think about is what they’re going to use to film. Now, I spent literally weeks after first deciding I was going to start a channel, just looking at different cameras. It was scary. There are literally so many cameras out there, and most of the ones which other more experienced youtubers recommend are either really pricey, or discontinued so you can only get them secondhand, and they’re still not cheap. I was literally obsessed looking at different makes and models and petrified at spending so much money on a project which might not even take off. Basically, I think there’s things which are worth spending money on for Booktube in the beginning and things that aren’t but I’ll get to that later. 


Anyway, in the end I thought to myself, well I actually have a perfectly good piece of camera equipment in my pocket. My phone. So I did some research and looked into how it would work to create a YouTube video on my phone and what little adjustments I’d need to make, and I ended up with the following: 

These do come with variable prices for different phones. Both the Olloclip Lens and the Gorilla tripod were both more expensive for me because they’re were the + versions for my phone. But you get the jist for just under £140 I had all the equipment needed to film. The Olloclip comes with both; ‘Wide’ & ‘fisheye’ lens’ and an external mic is a must because the IPhone’s own built in Mic gets a horrible clicking sound in the background when you film directly on there. 


Once I had all the equipment I had to think about what I needed to film. Now this is essentially where I went wrong, and where I hope I can prevent future Booktubers from going wrong when they post their first video. I spent a minimum amount of time watching other booktubers, all of which were huge with thousands of subscribers and looked at what they did that worked. With that in mind I decided to do a bookshelf tour straight away. Viewers seemed to love them and I thought it would be loads of fun. Wrong. 


I didn’t do a practice video first. I got straight into it. I was sat at my dining room table with my tiny bookshelf behind me, my roots looked bad, my shelves were untidy and I had absolutely no idea about how time consuming it was going to be, both to film and edit the whole thing. What I ended up with was a poor quality video in bad lighting, touring my totally boring looking shelves and having no idea what to talk about. It’s cringe but I can’t bear to take it down because it literally took so long to make! 

So for my second video I decided to make some improvements. I went to the salon and got my hair cut and coloured to improve my appearance. I also finally got round to buying some good decent shelves which for anyone who is interested are the Billy bookshelves in white from Ikea and cost me around £192 plus delivery. I also bought some really neat accessories for my shelves including several Pop figurines to go with my books. I upgraded my books which were loooking a bit tatty to newer, sleeker looking versions and bought some new books to fill the new shelf space I had. Now this is not something I recommend as being cost effective or advise to do in order to make your channel more appealing. I only did this because I’d wanted to do it for ages anyway and I finally had the spare cash and the motivation to get off my butt and upgrade my shelves. This was then the end result: 


But my second video was almost as unsuccessful as the first. I decided to do reviews of some of the books I’d read that week which were ARCs from Netgalley. This video was moderately more successful mainly because one of the authors I was reviewing shared the link. But video quality was still not great and I still wasn’t confident behind the camera, basically because I still didn’t know what I was doing. 

What I had been doing wrong all along was not doing my research properly. I’d been so excited to jump in that I’d just tried to do what I thought would work while only viewing a couple of videos from really big booktubers and presuming I could do the same. Wrong again. 

So I took that time. I watched and subscribed to lots of booktubers. Not just the big ones but others as well. I watched helpful videos like Hailey in Bookland’s How to Booktube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DZjsh49YNa0

Then I set about making my #booktubenewbietag video. It’s a video tag originally created by Brenda C which gets you to answer 10 questions about yourself, your reading habits and what you can bring to Booktube. It was really fun to film and I think that’s a big part of why it’s being so successful so far (I’ll come to that part later). Previously, I hadn’t really enjoyed making my videos because they’d taken a lot of time, I was uncomfortable, I didn’t really know what to say or how to act and the whole thing came across as tired, boring and worst of all forced. My boyfriend said to me; ‘you need to get your personality out there’ but I didn’t know how. This video and watching other videos really helped with that. Answering questions allowed my genuine enthusiasm for books to emerge and suddenly everything clicked. I took advantage of the natural light on my white shelves, moved the camera closer to my face and voila it’s surprising what a difference that made! 


Within 24 hours my Booktube newbie tag video has 65 views, 27 comments and 6 likes. Not to mention my channel as a whole has 6 new subscribers. Maybe this doesn’t sound a lot but for someone just starting out on Booktube I’m really pleased with those stats which have tripled what I got on my first two videos. But most importantly I was finally having fun doing it and that’s what it all comes down to. 

On Wednesday I’ll be launching my March Book Haul video which I hope will go on to be just as succesful if not more. 

I hope this post has been helpful for those who are thinking of joining youtube as any sort of vlogger. You can watch any of the videos I’ve made by visiting my channel https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCs0_TWR_r0SPVlVdT7UV9hg 

Reading Challenge 2017 Week 7 

Picking my favourite female author was a toughy I must admit! Although it’s not something I do on purpose, the writers I read are mostly female. 

It wasn’t all that hard though I must admit. Katie Fforde dominates my bookshelves. I’m not kidding. Here’s a photo to prove it! 


Not to mention my kindle being full of all her short stories as well. Katie’s stories are happy stories. That’s the best way to describe them, they’re romantic sure, but they’re more than that too. Her characters are strong, independent women. Feminist women. No they’re not bra burners, nor is the word feminism ever really mentioned from what I can remember. But they are everything a feminist should be. Not to mention they have amazing jobs! 


Here’s some examples: 

  • In Love Letters Laura Horsley gets involved in organising a literary festival when the bookshop she works in closed down. 
  • Sarah in Wedding Season is a wedding planner.
  • Anna in Practically Perfect is an interior designer. 
  • Second Thyme Around’s main character is Perdita who has her own organic gardening business. 
  • Jenny Porter in A Highland Fling is a virtual assistant! Bet you’ve probably never heard of one of those! 
  • Paradise Field’s Nel is organising a farmer’s market while Life Skills’ Julia Fairfax unexpectedly becomes a cook on a boat. 

I could go on but I’m guessing you’re getting the idea that these are pretty cool books! When those that don’t have a job still get involved in really cool things, like restoring paintings or looking after old stately homes. 

Katie has a beautiful way of writing. She draws the reader in and makes them truly root for her characters, characters that you fall in love with and want to be friends with. 

She is and will remain my favourite author indefinitely!  

March Interview – Mike Wells 

This month I caught up with Mike Wells author of (among many) the Lust, Money and Murder series. You can get book 1 here: http://ow.ly/zarI308OMCv


What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

My background is in engineering—I have a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. As I was finishing that, I started my own business and became an entrepreneur, but I’ve been writing fiction ever since I was a teenager. I’ve done all kinds of different types of writing—press releases, newsletters, academic papers, advertisements, user’s manuals, and of course my thesis and dissertation. All of that helped with fiction writing. And of course the marketing experience I had owning my own businesses also helped in crafting books that I felt inspired to write but would also sell.


What are your ambitions for your writing? 

World domination.  
Seriously, I suppose I would like to see some of my books be successful enough and widely enough read to be made into Hollywood movies with A-list actors.  


Which writers inspire you? 

A lot of different writers inspire me—Thomas Hardy, Stephen King, Nora Ephron, Rod Serling, and David Mamet to name a few.


Your books are really detailed on the ins and outs of law enforcement and different job roles, how much research goes into writing them? Where do your ideas come from? 

A lot of research goes into every book. I spend many hours reading relevant media articles, blog posts, travel websites, law enforcement procedures handbooks, etc. Sometimes I travel to a place specifically to do research—for example, I went to Washington, D.C. and toured the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where U.S. paper money is made, for the fist Lust, Money & Murder books. I also often query experts, usually via email or the social networks, such as former Secret Service agents or lawyers or doctors or coroners when I have a specific question and can’t find the answer.

My ideas usually come from something I see in real life and my imagination takes over when I ask “What if?” type questions.


Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

I’m always working on something new—right now that’s Lust, Money & Murder Book 10 – Black Widow, and I’m also working on the outline for another book.


What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

I mostly use an iPad with an external bluetooth keyboard because it’s so light and I can take it anywhere. I do a lot of writing outside of the house—at the beach, at cafes, etc. I use Apple’s Pages app and then at the end convert to MS-Word for uploading to publisher websites.


Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write?   

I write in a lot of different genres already—YA science fiction, YA adventure—I’ve even published a romantic comedy called Secrets of the Elusive Lover. To me, genre is mostly setting and plot structure. It’s not that hard to switch genres if you spend some time studying that genre and understand what the reader expectations are. At the end of the day, great stories are about interesting conflicts between people, and between ourselves and our inner demons. Genre is secondary to that.


How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I would never finish a novel, and doubt anyone else would, either, just going when inspiration strikes. I don’t have a specific word count I target each day—I make myself put in four hours. Sometimes all four hours are taken up with plotting or editing what I’ve already written. But I know from experience I average about 1,500 words a day, which means it take me about three months to finish a novel, not including editing/proofreading time (another month at least)


What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I spent quite a few years with some very good NYC and London agents trying to sell my work, and they were never able to do it without me having to make some major compromise that I wasn’t willing to make, so I never sold a book that way. With the advent of ebooks, I saw a way to reach readers myself and bypass that system and produce my books exactly the way I want them to be, so I went for it.  

How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 
I use lots of different methods to market my books, but the main one is social media, and primarily Twitter. One of my failures was setting up my own ebook store. That didn’t work because I learned that people don’t want to set up a new account just to buy one author’s books. Also, there was a lot more customer support required having my own store, so I closed the store and decided that it was better to let Amazon, Apple, B&N, etc. handle all that for me.


If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?  

For me, this question doesn’t apply, because I think every author who is writing from the heart could not have ever written any other author’s book—it’s impossible. I’ve never wished I’d written any other author’s book maybe because I know that. To want to do that is like not wanting to be who you are, not appreciating your own uniqueness. I like Mike Wells just fine and I’m very happy with every book I’ve published. If not, I wouldn’t have published them, and there are quite a few of mine still in the drawer which I don’t think are good enough (yet).

What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 

I’m not sure the success of a book is that closely tied to the reviews. I’ve seen some bestsellers that have pretty mixed reviews, if not flat out bad reviews. Very often the reviewer has the wrong expectations for the book in terms of the genre or sub-genre. For example I have had some bad reviews of Lust, Money & Murder particular written by science fiction reviewers. Why they decided to review that book is beyond me—it’s not science fiction and not advertised that way. But of course if you think it’s science fiction and were to read it with those expectations, it would be terrible! 

Website: http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com.cy

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MikeWellsAuthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lmm1free 

Blog: http://mikewellsblog.blogspot.com.cy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/130859.Mike_Wells
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Mike-Wells/e/B004MCEC1U

 Thanks so much for taking the time to interview me, Leonie, I’m honored!

Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed and answer my questions Mike, the honour is all mine! 

You can read my review of the first book in the Lust, Money and Murder series here: http://ow.ly/Gbxo308ONTk 

Reading Challenge 2017 week 6 

Week 6 is my favourite male author. It was a toughy but I reverted back to my childhood and revelled in the delights of the world of The Old Kingdom in Garth Nix’s amazing books Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen and Clariel. 

The first in The Old Kingdom series; Sabriel is quite frankly an amazing book and Garth Nix a frankly amazing story weaver. In the Old Kingdom free and charter magic abound and people both fear and need the people behind the walls. 


When the House of the Royal family falls there is trouble brewing with necromancers rife among the people raising the living dead and using them to do their bidding. Sabriel’s dad is the Abhorsen a powerful necromancer who armed with bells and a special sword can put the dead to rest. But when her father dies Sabriel finds herself in charge of her father’s bells and the responsibility of Abhorsen falls to her. 

Lirael is a book in 3 parts picking up 14 years after the end of Sabriel. The second two parts are set 5 years after the first part. Lirael is the half sister of Sabriel on her father’s side and lives with the Clayr a mystical set of fortune tellers. Due to Lirael not having the sight she doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Clayr, but her loneliness is relieved when she meets the Disreputable Dog in the Clayr’s library and begins to vanquish monsters. 






Abhorsen features old favourite Lirael who is now Abhorsen in waiting after Sabriel. Hedge the necromancer is reaking havoc and attacking everyone and everything with his army of undead. Lirael and Sameth her cousin set about to to destroy ‘the destroyer’. 


Clariel is book 4 of the series and is set before the events of the other three as serves as a sort of Prequel to The Old Kingdom series. Magic is ‘unfashionable’ and the Abhorsen of the time is next to useless. Riches like gold and silver take precedence over magic. One thing I’ll say is that this book was one massive surprise and it filled in many missing pieces from the first three. 


I’m excited to begin Goldenhand the 5th and most recent in the saga. 

Garth Nix is a magical storyteller, his writing style is second to none, his description, character building and scene setting on a completely different level. I still don’t know why this series has never got the recognition it truly deserves. 

Spring Reads 2017 

Spring is in the air and in my step. For the first time in what seems like ages we were able to bask in the sunlight as we walked our dog down the Chesterfield canal this afternoon. 

Spring for me is all about preparation for the summer, getting the garden summer ready, baby animals being born and of course Easter eggs! 

It’s with all this in mind that I’ve come up with my favourite books to see me into spring. 

1. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  


The phrase ‘mad as a March Hare’ is what convinced me that this book belongs on this list. Not to mention that despite its high levels of crazy, Wonderland is actually a rather beautiful place. With its singing flowers, colourful mushrooms and clever caterpillars, it’s the perfect way to slip into spring. Plus there’s some beautiful illustrated copies available to purchase such as this one which I bought myself with some Christmas money. 


2. Mr MacGregor by Alan Titchmarsh 


What better way to get in the mood for planting those spring seeds than reading a book about a gardener? 

Rob MacGregor is a TV gardener just like the author Alan Titchmarsh. His career is going from strength to strength but he’s annoying pretty much everyone, from his girlfriend Katherine when she finds out he’s been having an affair, to his co-presenters who’s not happy that Rob has been brought in to sex up the show. On top of all that his dad looks like he’s about to lose the nursery ran by his family for generations. 


3. Mixed Doubles by Jill Mansell 

I can recommend any of Jill Mansell’s books, she’s an amazing writer and as most of her books are set in spring and summer so it was a hard choice! But I’ve settled on Mixed Doubles as I actually read it at Easter time a few years ago. 


Perfectly romantic it starts just before New Year’s Eve as three friends Dulcie, Pru and Liza get together to make their resolutions as has been their habit since they became friends. But they have no idea what’s actually in store for them in the year to come. 


4. A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson 


This book is the one thing you need to inspire that big spring clean. Lou Winter picks up an old magazine in a dentists waiting room and gets inspired to do a big spring declutter and clean. But she suddenly goes a bit crazy with it, she didn’t realise that decluttering could be so addictive. But what her family and friends don’t realise is that decluttering her house is also making her feel that she needs to declutter other parts of her life too…. plus Milly is a South Yorkshire girl like me so I have enough bias to say read everything she’s written! Seriously though, she’s a really witty, brilliantly romantic writer who writes amazing books. 


5. Gardens of Delight by Erica James. 


This is a book that will get you in the car and driving across the country to try and find a beautiful garden in which to pass some time on a sunny spring day. 

The Gardens of Delight brochure promises the opportunity to visit some of Italies most beautiful lakes and gardens around Lake Como. Lucy wants to go there for more than just the gardens though, her dad lives there and she hasn’t seen him since he left when she was a teenager. Helen meanwhile is recently married to a wealthy man who is spending a lot of time away from home leaving Helen to tend to the garden. Needing help, and friends she decides to join the local gardening club. A beautiful book about the love of gardens, gardening and just plain old love itself. 


So there we have it. It’s not an exhaustive list ebennthough it could have been! But it is a selection of amazing books to get you in the mood for spring 2017.