2023 Second Quarter Check In

You can see the initial goals I set for 2023 by checking out my January post: https://allyaldridge.com/2023-goals/

I love doing these posts. I always feel like I’ve not done much, then I look back at the last three months and realise I have a lot to celebrate.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

My editor had a health emergency that delayed her being able to return the Copy Edit. She is a Trooper, and once she was better and rested she still did it. She returned it on 4 June 2023.

I had an important event to prepare for in June, so didn’t really deep dive into my final edits until the end of the month, finishing it by 1 July 2023.

So, this technically falls into the Third Quatre of the year but I’m too excited to keep it to myself. Once I finished editing, I sent my manuscript to my Formatter to make it pretty. I then realised she needs front & back matter too, so I wrote this and sent it over by 3 July.

Due to the editing delays, I lost my Formatting slot but will get slotted in soon. Once back I’ll be able to look for ARC readers.

Seeing my publishing plan, I noticed I missed a step. Now trying to see if I Cassidy has time to proofread for me, because she’s got a good eye. When she ARC read Ocean Heart, she spotted some minor typos that got missed despite all the edits, and I was able to change those before it went on sale to the public. Fingers crossed she can help me again.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

I added a little more. It’s not going to be 85k. I’ve no idea why I set that as the word count target! It’s currently at 36.5k words, and some of that is notes. It is nearing the end of the story, so it’s not going to get much longer.

  • A YA Low Fantasy prequel from The Soul Heart series. Set in the early 00s, a summer romance turns into a teen pregnancy. With a fortune telling meddling witch, Denny moves to Felixstowe believing she’s doing the right thing for her baby.

Dark Heart: Another Soul Heart spin off/sequel

I’ve had this story bubbling in my head for a few years. I tried to write it before but got too scared. This time it felt less scary, and the words poured out of me. This story is at 21k words and almost finished. It will be another novella.

  • A YA LGBTQ Fantasy spin off from The Soul Heart series. It was supposed to be a horror inspired by slender man myths and Orochimaru from Naruto, but it’s turned into a coming out story, and not as dark as I expected. It’s been fun to write.

Public Appearances: I attended both my author events.

May: Herts Book Festival

This was so much fun. I sold books. I took part on a Fantasy panel with other fantasy authors, and I met and made author friends.

June: Felixstowe Book Festival.

I have wanted to be part of this event for a long time! I was part of the Children’s events. My event was called Let’s Talk Fantasy, and it was me and a local avid reader. It created a great dynamic. Afterwards, I sold and signed some books, and enjoyed more of the festivals events.

I forgot to take pictures and videos, until after the event. I only got a photo of my signing table, and fortunately Phoebe’s mum took some pictures she was willing to let me use on Social Media.

Aug: Booked to attend Legends Comic Con on 6 Aug 2023

I have updated my website’s Events page with details. I will be three with three other local authors I have gotten to know via Instagram, including Rachel Churcher who had the stall next to me at Herts Book Festival.

Reading

12 out of 18 books: I set my Goodreads goal at 16 books and have read 12 books so far.

Reviews: All the books have a Goodreads review. I have been so busy, I’ve not posted reviews as frequently to my blog. I posted three more book reviews on my YouTube channel channel.

Social Media [UPDATE]

Felixstowe Magazine: I have fallen behind with submitting articles for Felixstowe Magazine. I’ve been so busy with my kids, my new job, and festivals, that the weeks have flown by. This is a reminder, I need to get back on that as it’s a really good opportunity.

Website: I’ve been good about updating my websites Event page with what I’m up to. I’ve not updated my book titles. I need to update Sky Heart’s progress, rename New Moon as Summer Heart, and add Dark Heart.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I haven’t posted as frequently. Everything dropped up during chicken pox season, and busy with book festivals. I’ve started posting quick updates on my progress, and my YouTube videos. Nobody is there so it feels like I’m talking to a brick wall.

[kofi]

YouTube: i usually record when I’m off work on a Friday, but due to bank holidays and sick kids, I’ve worked a lot of Fridays and this has impacted my ability to record anything. I have made a few shorts in Canva. I’m proud of my long form Vlog video of going to Herts Book Festival.

Consistently Post: To keep the algorithm happy, I set the following schedule and included how I got on sticking to it:

  • Blog: Mon – This has definitely dropped in consistency. I usually have a few posts scheduled but right now I have loads of drafts written, waiting for the images.
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it) – It’s been sporadic but has met the at least once a week quota. Also, posting to Lemon8.
  • Ko-Fi: Thu – This has become so sporadic, I forgot the goal was to post on a Thursday.
  • Twitter: Sun – I rarely post intentionally to Twitter. It updates on my reading progress, and I’ve been sharing my Lemon8 posts.
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly) – No. This has trailed off since May. I will try to get back on track.
  • Newsletter: Every other month – That’s a relief. I thought I needed to send it monthly and had dropped off, but I have done this.

Followers: Eek, I was okay with no growth, but to lose followers was a shock. It’s so slight, I hadn’t even noticed. I wasn’t surprised that my TikTok count dropped as I deleted the app for a bit – I’m just not a fan and don’t trust them to respect my privacy.

I’m chuffed I have already beat my YouTube annual goal. This is encouraging as I am still trying to figure things out.

It’s good to see I am connecting with readers. I was surprised by this as I don’t always remember to post to BookBub & Litsy.

The Author Diaries: The authors that agreed to do The Author Diaries collab with me are still up for it but we still haven’t set down a time. I’m starting to worry we might never do it.

Reviews: I’ve heard from people that bought Ocean Heart tell me they are loving it, but no new reviews.

Personal

Skincare routine: Got a new face wash which I love, by Auriella Probiotics. I got a new foundation, eyebrow pencil, and lip and cheek tint.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: I was worried with the kids keep getting ill, my hubby working weekends, and my festivals, that we wouldn’t get to go. We did.

I was having an awful weekend where the kids were driving me barmy and decided I wanted to change it. So, I took them to Jimmy’s Farm to burn their energy and we all had a great time.

Date Nights: No more date nights, but we took the day off for Sports Day and got to have lunch, just my hubby and I, on the seafront.

We almost booked a spa day at Riverhills for our wedding anniversary. We got the time off work but we were so distracted by life we never booked it. Just as well, because the night before we would have gone, the spa burned down.

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2023 First Quarter Check In

You can see the initial goals I set for 2023 by checking out my January post.

Today’s post is to look at what I have achieved during the first three months of the year (January to March) 2023.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

It took me until end of March to finish the Developmental Edit which is longer than I had hoped but still good progress.

I have also finalised the cover for Sky Heart and waiting for Sky Heart to be closer to publishing to do a cover reveal.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

I haven’t worked much on this during Quarter One. I have been distracted by a shiny new idea. I’m not too worried as Sky Heart was always the priority but I’d like to finish this at some point this year.

Public Appearances: I have booked two events.

May: Herts Book Festival. I will be there selling signed copies of Sky Heart.

June: Felixstowe Book Festival. I will be taking part on a panel for the Children’s events.

Other Stories: I gave some examples of some plot bunnies bouncing around in my head. However, none of these were the shiny new story I started writing during quarter one.

  • A YA LGBTQ Fantasy spin off from The Soul Heart series. It was supposed to be a horror inspired by slender man myths and Orochimaru from Naruto, but it’s not coming out as dark as I expected. It’s been fun to write.

Reading

6 out of 18 books: I set my Goodreads goal at 16 books and have read 6 books so far. I bought some ear pods and tried audio books again. I’m having more success, but, I still prefer the written word to the verbal word.

Reviews: All the books have a Goodreads review. I have posted reviews on my YouTube channel for four books so far and plan to do more.

Social Media [UPDATE]

Felixstowe Magazine: I have been fortunate enough to write for Felixstowe Magazine throughout 2022 and will continue in 2023. Check out my News page to discover the articles.

Website: I need to make sure my pages stay up-to-date. For example, whilst writing this I’ve found that “New Moon” is listed on my books page but hasn’t updated to the new title “Summer Heart”. This isn’t a biggie as I’m not marketing it yet, but I mustn’t lose sight of it.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I have been posting more often to Ko-Fi and trying to post some content that can’t only be seen there by more followers. I am finding it hard to think of content to post each day.

[kofi]

YouTube: Despite the challenges affecting my life during the first quarter, I have managed to record, edit, and lost fortnightly to YouTube. This schedule is challenging for me but still achievable so I will keep this schedule.

Consistently Post: To keep the algorithm happy, I set the following schedule and included how I got on sticking to it:

  • Blog: Mon – This has been most Mon but I tend to forget something for the end of the month.
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it) – It’s been sporadic but has met the at least once a week quota.
  • Ko-Fi: Thu – I have posted each week, usually on a Thursday.
  • Twitter: Sun – I had a clear out of Followers on Twitters which improved my feed, but I don’t think I have posted intentionally to Twitter.
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly) – Yes. This has be challenging at time as I’ve had tech challenges like my video not uploading but I have persevered and kept up with it.
  • Newsletter: Every other month – Yes. I sent a newsletter in Jan, but not in Feb, and then again in Mar. I thought I’d messed up on this goal so it’s good I achieved it.

Followers: Eek, I was okay with no growth, but to lose followers was a shock. It’s so slight, I hadn’t even noticed. I wasn’t surprised that my TikTok count dropped as I deleted the app for a bit – I’m just not a fan and don’t trust them to respect my privacy.

I’m chuffed I have already beat my YouTube annual goal. This is encouraging as I am still trying to figure things out.

It’s good to see I am connecting with readers. I was surprised by this as I don’t always remember to post to BookBub & Litsy.

The authors that agreed to do The Author Diaries collab with me are still up for it but we still haven’t set down a time. In the meantime, I have been creating fortnightly content for my YouTube channel.

Reviews: Although I’ve had two people tell me they read and loved Ocean Heart, the review count has not increased.

Personal

Skincare routine: I got in a good routine and then got lazy again. I also treated myself to some Korean makeup. I used to love Korean makeup before I went organic. I got a cute foundation, highlighter, and bronzer.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: I’m so disappointed that we haven’t been. It hasn’t been the best weather, cold and rainy. When it has been nice my husband had either been working or someone has a bad cold. Hopefully we will get to go during Q2.

Date Nights: My hubby’s best mate baby Sat so we could go watch Avatar together. This was right before I lost my job. Once I was unemployed my hubby and I went to lunch a few times when we was on his rest days.

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2023 Goals!

I didn’t really set any goals last year and it left me feeling like I didn’t achieve everything I wanted to. Having no milestones left me unaccountable.

After reflecting on this, and learning from it, I must set goals for 2023! I went back to my Jan 2021 post to use as a goal setting template.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

I wanted to publish this by the end of 2021. The goal rolled into 2022, and it’s still outstanding! This is my top priority for 2023. I am halfway through the developmental feedback. Completing this step by the end of Jan is doable.

For accountability, I will post my feedback on Ko-Fi & share to Twitter.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

Originally this was titled New Moon (or Denny’s Story) and it was going to be a short novella that I would offer out as a readers magnet, but… I’m not good at short stories. This is fast becoming a full length novel.

Public Appearances: I would really love to do another face to face event. They are scary but I think they are important to be seen as an author. I’m not sure what though.

Other Stories: I would like to start a new novel. I have ideas for some stand alone novels. As I struggle for time to work on my main projects, these get pushed aside. When I want a change, I will work on:

  • A YA Paranormal Fantasy Horror set in a made up town- Paranormal YouTubers crossed with Blaire Witch Project
  • A YA Sci-Fi Romance set in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk – The UKs equivalent of the USAs Roswell.
  • A Historical YA Fantasy set in Woolpit, Suffolk inspired by the local Green Children Legend.
  • A Vampire Fantasy Romance set at Birmingham university (location may change to London, Liverpool, or Ipswich) – Exploring addiction.
  • A Sci-fi Action story set at Landguard Fort, Felixstowe, Suffolk/Sealand – Drunk teens find a naked girl on the beach that has escaped a research facility, and now they are on the run. Inspired by Stranger Things and Hunted on Ch4.
  • And many more. I have tons of plot bunnies but not enough time to write. One day… one day…

Reading

12 – 24 Books: When I am working on my writing, I tend not to read. It depends on how productive I am towards my publishing goals. The last two years, I’ve doubled it but my progress in other areas were reduced.

Reviews: I wish to continue posting reviews on my blog, and Goodreads. If it’s on Litsy or BookBub, I will post it there too. In addition, I’d like to review books on my YouTube channel.

Social Media

Felixstowe Magazine: I have been fortunate enough to write for Felixstowe Magazine throughout 2022 and will continue in 2023. Check out my News page to discover the articles.

Website: I need to make sure my pages stay up-to-date. For example, whilst writing this I’ve found that “New Moon” is listed on my books page but hasn’t updated to the new title “Summer Heart”. This isn’t a biggie as I’m not marketing it yet, but I mustn’t lose sight of it.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I joined last year, and really enjoy this site. It is now my shops home as it’s so easy to use. I need to update this more often and encourage people to follow me there.

[kofi]

YouTube: I really want to grow my YouTube channel. It’s hard because I need quiet to make videos. I also don’t want you to see my messy home, so I must tidy first (recently we had a leak in the kitchen that spread to the dining room – this is an ongoing nightmare). Then once recorded I need to edit, and my laptop is on the way out. There are lots of obstacles but this is a goal I’m not giving up on!

Consistently Post: I know this is important to keep the algorithm happy, but during 2022 I just lost my enthusiasm to post. I think it was burn out. However, this is what I will aim for:

  • Blog: Mon
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it)
  • Ko-Fi: Thu
  • Twitter: Sun
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly)
  • Newsletter: Every other month

Followers: I’m not too worried about building up my following as I’d rather have people I’m engaging with than big numbers. I’ve set my goal to increase by 10%, especially as I haven’t really tracked it for two years.

I barely sent out any news letters during 2022. To send one every other month would be an increase. It would be nice to get more subscribers but I won’t be pushing this.

I don’t like Facebook, so I’m going to drop this off completely.

I recently returned to Twitter. I stopped using Twitter because there was so much hate and preaching American Democrats. It pushed me to check out Parler. Parler was very American Republican and nothing else. Since Elon has taken over Twitter, it feels less political, and there is more rounded discussion. I’m enjoying Twitter again.

TikTok is an app I feel I should use more as people make book sales there, but it terrifies me. I’m not going to force myself to do it, if I feel inspired to post there I will but I’m not too bothered about my growth.

I had an idea to do a collab feature on YouTube called The Author Diaries. We found it challenging to find a time we were all free but I am still interested in doing this. In the meantime, I will create content for my YouTube channel on writing a book reviews.

BookBub, Goodreads, and Litsy are social apps for readers. I’m not very active on these except to post reviews. I can’t see that changing.

Reviews: Reviews are really important for a books visibility, so I will be tracking how many I have and – eek – remind my readers to leave reviews.

Personal

Skincare routine: I haven’t really bothered with my skincare or makeup products during 2022 as I tried to save money. It could be aging or my lack of care but my skin is in need of some attention. For 2023, I will invest in some nice products and look after my skin better.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: My mum treated me to an annual pass so we can go whenever we like. We will be making the most of that. The pass also includes discounts at other places so we could check them out too.

Date Nights: My hubby and I are both busy working, looking after the kids, keeping up appearances with friends & family that we barely have quality time together. When we are together we are often exhausted. My hubby and I have agreed that we will try harder this year to make time for each other.

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Book Review: Shadows of the Circus by J D Groom

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

This book is a prequel to the Sorceress of Truth series by J.D. Groom.

Blackpool, 1894, and a deadly creature lurks in the shadows…

Shadows of the Circus by J.D. Groom

My thoughts

This is my first Historical Fantasy. The story is set in Blackpool, 1894, and tells the story of vampire Kylan.

Kylan is working at Blackpool Tower in construction and getting things ready for the grand opening of the famous landmark. He is struggling with managing his vampire urges.

Then he meets Mary, a well established vampire who takes him under her wing and gives him a crash course in control. When Kylan finds Mary in a dangerous situation, the fangs come out and everything is ruined.

Although this novel is a prequel to Sorceress of Truth (YA Contemporary Fantasy), this has a different feel with a male voice, more adult themes, spicy scenes and violence. There is a glossary of Victorian slang at the end, I particularly liked the words for idiot.

Read it for vampires, historical settings, and a little spice and gore.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can get this book from:

This book is currently only availabile for free direct from the authors website by joining her newsletter: https://jdgroom.com

If you enjoyed this, check out this:

[kofi]

Book Review: Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

My thoughts

This was a wild card, as I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t often read graphic novels but the promise of a mermaid intrigued me.

I whizzed through this, and found it very entertaining. The story is set in 1800s on a steamboat. I’m not a history buff but learning via a comic book (with a bit of fantasy) made it lots of fun. It’s funny too.

An unexpected treat were the pages at the end. Here the author shares how the characters first came to him, all the research, and more of his artwork. I love discovering more behind the book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Holiday Reading

Here are the books we are reading over the winter holidays.

This post does contain affiliate links. To learn more about these please visit my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

This book was gifted to me by my cousin. My personal goal is to read it in December, but it’s a big book and I’m a slow reader.

The book is really special as it has art work every couple of pages.

This book makes me fantasy about a life where I could read all day. It’s the sort of book you are sad to put down. It reminds me of interview of a vampire, except it’s the vampire interviewing a vampire Hunter to record his tales before ultimately dying (I’m guessing the end).

Snuggled on the sofa with my book 📖

Julia & the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

I saw how incredible this book looked on Instagram, and decided to buy it for my son’s Christmas Eve box. I like to give them PJs and a new book the night before Christmas so they are excited to go to bed. 😂

The book is extra special as it is signed by the author. The book’s edges are decorated with crows, and their is art work and velum pages inside.

The first chapter was sad as the child’s mother has died. However, my son was fascinated about the idea of someone living in a lighthouse and is excited to get to the “shark” bit. I actually don’t know if there is any sharks in the story but we’ll read & find out.

Roald Dahl Collection

As a child I loved Roald Dahl. My son borrowed George’s Marvellous Medicine from schools for we were really enjoying it, but ran out of tile before it had to be swapped.

So, I bought this set for him for Christmas so we could relive mummy’s childhood reading together. This pack of six cost £14.99 from Scholastic.

Christmas Day he started The Twits and read three chapters together. He enjoyed it so much that he’s continued reading more on his own. This is great, as books are competing with computer games, and he is a gamer.

The Girl & The Dinosaur by Hollie Hughes

I chose this book because my daughter has red hair and is into dinosaurs at the moment.

The story is about a little girl that digs up dinosaur bones at the beach. The beach looks a lot like Felixstowe – awesome. She then wishes that the dinosaur would come to life. Then, with magic, the dinosaur comes to life and they go on an adventure.

I love stories about imagination. I think imagination is underrated but without it many cool things would never have been created.

Tilda Tries Again by Tom Percival

This was a gift from my family to my daughter. My son already has Perfectly Norman. It’s part of Big Bright Feelings series.

The story is about a little girl (with red hair) that feels her world has turned upside down and doesn’t want to play with the other children. She then stops trying at everything. Then she watches a upside down ladybug right itself, and it inspires her to start trying again. Finally she is confident enough to try playing with the other children.

It was a nice read with a good message . My daughter is crazy confident but I was a very shy little girl. This book would have been amazing for me, and if my daughter ever loses her confidence, it’s nice we have this book on her shelf.

Book Token

Getting a book token is an incredible gift.

National Book Token: My kids were fortunate enough to get a book token for Christmas so we are planning an outing to a local bookshop so they can choose their own book. Book Tokens can also be spent online at Bookshop.org.

Amazon Voucher: My online book friends clubbed together and treated me for my birthday. I waited until after Christmas to spend it incase I got books as gifts. Now, I get to spend it. 🥰

Smashwords: Smashwords sell eBooks that can be read on any device or app, and are saved in the readers library. They have the option to gift eBooks which is a cool option to consider. Just pick the book you want and choose to gift, and the book will be sent to your recipient.

The cold weather is a perfect excuse to curl up with a new book. I hope you are reading something you love, and I’d love to hear what it is.

[kofi]

NaNoWriMo Project

My NaNoWriMo Project

New Moon (working title)

This project is set in the same low fantasy world of The Soul Heart Series. In fact, for readers of Ocean Heart they may recognise the main character, Denny.

This story is a prequel. It’s set in the 90s, back when Denny was a teen herself. It will cover how she became friends with Gwyn, started her Sparkle Cake business, and the highs and lows as a new mum.

Preparation

I feel more prepared now I have created a title, cover, and blurb. Of course these are all just a work in progress, so could change but it helps me feel more focused.

I’ve started writing an outline. I intended for this to be a novella but I already have a sneaky suspicion this could become a full length novel.

I’ve also made a spreadsheet to help me track my word count. If this works successfully, I will look at making a version available to my followers on Ko-Fi.

The Goal

I’m going to aim for the big Five-O (50,000 words). If I don’t make it, I will still have made progress, but if I do, it’d make me so happy.

I’ve been struggling with motivation because Sky Heart is on hold until I can afford the professional services I need to move it forward. I’ve also been bummed out with all the germs (sick kids) ruining September, and fracturing my ankle ruining October.

I really want to get back into the habit of writing again. My ultimate goal for November is this: To write!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What’s your project, goal, and how do you prepare?

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

About Ocean Heart

About Sky Heart

About Work In Progress

About Ko-Fi

Goodreads 2020 Reads

Something I love about Goodreads is how easy it is to track my progress towards my reading goals. At the end of the year, Goodreads gives stats on my reads.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link. NB: This post contains these affiliate links.

2020 Reading Goals

My goal was set at 12 books, thinking I could easily read one a month but I hadn’t taken into account how busy I’d be certain months launching my own book, Ocean Heart. It turned out just 12 books was harder than I thought.

The year has include some books I absolutely loved, and one I hated. I’m pretty good at choosing books I know I will love that I wasn’t surprised that my average rating was high. I just don’t have time to read books I won’t like. 😂

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

This was my first read of 2020. It was a book I’d been eager to buy, but was lucky enough to win a copy from the author on Twitter! Whoop! Whoop! I love fantasy set in the real world so it was a good start to my year.

My last two reads of 2020 were Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten and… I rather unusual choice for me… The Substantial Meal by Florence Green. I’ve rated them both on Goodreads but still need to write the review.

Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

I think I preordered this book, but I’m such a slow reader, by the time I got to it, it’d been out a little while. I’m going to write a review very soon but as you can see from my 5 star rating, I LOVED THIS BOOK!

The Substantial Sandwich by Florence Green

I can’t remember how Florence & I got talking, but I was a bit glum I wasn’t going to make my pathetic reading goal of just 12 books. I was beating myself up. Then Florence cheered my up by sending me his recent release, an erotic satire using innuendos and puns about the Covid restrictions. It was a quick short read and succeeded at cheering me up. Review coming soon.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas is the most popular book I read. I’m not surprised as I saw it all over Instagram. I actually bought my copy in summer 2019 at YALC.

Another YALC buy was Sea Witch by Sarah Henning. It’s a historical fantasy/fairytale retelling of The Little Mermaid. I really loved the book, and hope to read book 2 in the series this year.

A book that should be more popular is Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom. It’s contemporary fantasy and has everything I love in a book. The MC was relatable, but all the side characters were well developed. With a modern day sorceress, fairies and vampires, what’s not to love?

2021 Reading Goal

To alleviate pressure, I’ve lowered my reading goal to 10 fiction books. I know, some people can read that amount in a month. But, I read for pleasure. And, I have to be in the right mood. If I’m too tired or engrossed in my own writing, I just can’t get into the book.

I also have a few resource books I need to read and review. I didn’t review any last year despite reading some. So, you can look forward to that. These are separate from my reading goal.

[kofi]

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2020 Book Reviews

Book Review: If The Broom Fits

Book Review: Agent Undone

8 Reasons Why You Should Write Reviews For You

Book Review: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

I picked up this novel from YALC 2019. I love mermaids and I love a well developed villain.

Blurb

The fairy tale you thought you knew…

The story of the Sea Witch, the villainess from Hans Christian Anderson’s classic tale The Little Mermaid, told from the viewpoint of the Sea Witch when she was a twelve-year-old girl…

Evie has been wracked with guilt ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned. So when a girl appears on shore with an uncanny resemblance to Anna, Evie befriends her in an effort to make amends. And as the two girls catch the eyes – and hearts – of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at happy ever after. But is Evie’s new friend really who she says she is?

A gripping story of friendship, betrayal and the power of hope…

Beginning

The story starts by introducing the three friends Evie, Anna, and Nik (aka the Crown Prince). The childhood friends are running along the beach and playing in a cove until there’s an accident. Evie risks her life to save Nik. Evie cracks her head on a rock. Her friends rush her home to her family that know magic and her mother gives her life to save Evie.

We then jump to Nik’s sixteenth birthday taking place on a ship. It reminded me of the scene from the start of Disney’s little mermaid. Anna isn’t here as she died in a tragic accident. This did confuse me a little as I thought I’d missed something because the only tragic accident I knew about was the one above, and Anna was fine.

A storm comes and Nik is washed overboard. Evie and his playboy cousin Iker search the tide for him, hoping he’s been washed ashore. Evie spots Nik first, he’s with a girl, but in a flash she is gone.

Middle

Evie is a witch but hides her magic because it’s punishable by death. The story covers lots of celebrations including one where wicker dolls to symbolize witches are thrown into the fire.

Evie meets a mysterious girl that is a dead ringer for her friend Ana who tragically died, taken by the sea, during a swimming challenge gone wrong. The new girl claims to be Annemette.

Annemette reveals to Evie she too has magic, and confesses to being a mermaid. It was her that saved Nik when he almost drowned and she fell in love and had to come to land for true love. She has limited time to get true loves kiss or return to the sea as foam.

Annemette is in luck because, as Nik’s BFF, she’s the one girl with access to him. But, Evie is poor and shunned away by the elite as unsuitable, so she’s not usually invited into the palace. Evie lies, and says Annemette is from a well off family, and Annemette uses her magic to create herself (and Evie), fine dresses. As a result, they are invited to stay at the palace.

Evie encourages Nik to date Annemette. She reminds her so much of her lost friend, she’ll do anything for her. Evie starts dating Iker. Nik isn’t too pleased about this, due to Iker’s reputation and there is a hint of jealous. Evie knows her and Nik can only ever be friends due to her heritage.

While Iker keeps kissing Evie, Nik holds back with Annemette. As the days pass, Nik starts expressing his suspicions more and more causing friction.

Evie searches for another way to break the curse. She starts practising her magic more, becoming stronger.

During all of this, there are flashbacks. These sometimes reveal Evie’s pasts, and sometimes the Little Mermaids and her life bebeathe the waves.

End

Time is running out! In Evie’s desperation she tells Nik, Annemette is a mermaid. Annemette is not impressed, so, she reveals Evie is a which! Iker over heals and demands the guards arrest her.

The girls run. Evie is still determined to save Annemette and believes she’s figured out the spell. It turns out Annemette has her own ideas to stay human & it has nothing to do with kissing Nik.

It’s during these final pages, Nik confesses he never had eyes for Annemette, he has always loved Evie. Annemette takes Nik’s life, making her human. But, as a human she’s vulnerable. Evie is shot with arrows and pulls Annemette down into the water. She holds her down until her last breath. Her friend, dead again.

Evie doesn’t die. With all the magic swirling in the water, she merges with an octopus and becomes the Sea Witch.

Final Thoughts

I loved the story telling. Sarah Henning set the novel in Denmark where it was from originally. She brought to life the Danish coast, and a fishing village rich in customs. There were moments that were so vivid, and I loved the fresh take on a classic fairy tale.

There wasn’t a happily ever after. I really wanted to see her with the crown prince & show those snobs that their love is more powerful. But, I guess I should have expected it. I kept looking at the cover and wondering where the famous sea witch was, and she was Evie.

The sea witch is usually the villain but in her own story she wasn’t. I liked Evie and I felt sorry for her fate. I’ll have to read book 2, Sea Witch Rising, to see if things improve for her.

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[kofi]

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