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book of the week - The Reckoning by John Grisham, and Stylist Mag Top 10 for 2019
30 December 2018

It’s been a while due to not driving so much and being rushed off my feet with Xmas and so on, but here’s the latest novel to grace my audible app/alexa…

John Grisham is one of my ‘must-read’ authors, even though some of his more recent ones have been a bit hit and miss, sounding more like an abridged version of itself, the reviews reflecting that, very often. BUT The Reckoning seems to be hitting the mark and has made me inquisitive enough to find myself thinking about the characters in between sessions…one of the best signs that it’s a good book.

See also below for the Stylist Magazine’s ‘Books to Watch out for in 2019’ list – very glad to see my mentor Julie Cohen’s next novel firmly on that list! Plus info about our writing retreat dates for 2019.


The Reckoning.

John Grisham returns to Clanton, Mississippi, to tell the story of an unthinkable murder, the bizarre trial that followed it and its profound and lasting effect on the people of Ford County.

Pete Banning was Clanton's favourite son, a returning war hero, the patriarch of a prominent family, a farmer, father, neighbour and a faithful member of the Methodist Church. Then one cool October morning in 1946, he rose early, drove into town, walked into the church, and calmly shot and killed the Reverend Dexter Bell.

As if the murder wasn't shocking enough, it was even more baffling that Pete's only statement about it - to the sheriff, to his defense attorney, to the judge, to his family and friends and to the people of Clanton - was 'I have nothing to say'.

And so the murder of the esteemed Reverend Bell became the most mysterious and unforgettable crime Ford County had ever known


More on Amazon here.


Books to watch out for

Looking forward to revamping my book of the week feature, after a lull at the end of 2018. This was in part due to re-listening to old books, and to not driving anywhere near as much for various reasons. So apart from my Book of the Week, here’s a nice little round up care of Stylist Magazine.

2019 is already looking like being a brilliant year for ‘watershed’ books – including a long-awaited thriller, a Booker winner and breakout debuts which have already been snapped up for the small and big screens. And amongst them, my mentor Julie Cohen’s next novel, Louis and Louise. This is released on 24th January so will have a fuller review then. For now, if you’re after some stonking new author recommendations, how about the following – here’s a selection from the Stylist list, which took my fancy:

Queenie – by British author Candice Carty-Williams. Being called ‘the one to watch out for’ this novel sounds like being the best anti-heroine antidote to the social media generation with a real life tragi-comedy storyline and proper ‘uplit’ feelgood factor – I will definitely be getting this when out in April.

The Wych Elm – by Tana French. Being called ‘the most highly anticipated thriller, this one looks fascinating. Having already made her name with the Dublin mysteries (must look those up) Tana brings us this stand-alone thriller based on unreliable memories of youth in a PR guy struggling to recover from a horrible incident and a discovery in a tree. Any book Stephen King calls ‘Incandescent’ has to be a must. Out 21 February.

Daisy Jones and the Six – by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This debut has been snapped up by none other than Reese Witherspoon’s book club (Reese ‘devoured it in a day’) and Amazon for a 13 part TV series, it’s very appealing – but do you wait for the TV series? I tend to do that as I prefer to see the TV series first, since the book always has so much more detail it’s better to do it that way round, IMO. Filled with the glamour and excess of the late 70s music scene (yessss!) it’s going to be on my hit list and I hope the TV series is in 2019. Well done Taylor though – great debut.

Louis and Louise – by my mentor Julie Cohen. I am unspeakably proud of Julie and know that this book, which I have yet to read, deliberately waiting till it’s on audiobook, will be huge. This is being called the ‘thinking lit,’ and will be a top choice for book clubs everywhere this year. Out in January, be the first to recommend it to yours! ‘Two lives, lived twice’ is the clever byline, and features the same life told twice – once as a female and the other as a male hero. What difference does sex make to events in our lives? Julie explores this and will have people discussing it for days after reading it. Can’t wait. On pre-sale now.

Cape May – by Chip Cheek. Set in 1957 this book will have you transported to a different era, with shades of Mad Men and Revolutionary Road, apparently. I love the 1950s (the Marvellous Mrs Maisel is my current go to binge watch show, am on season 2) and this one looks fascinating as it’s set in a racy world of money and risky encounters… Because of the setting I would give it a go. Out end April.

The others are listed on the Stylist website and are worth looking up if you like dystopia, quirky Richard Curtis type rom-coms and fantasy amongst others. Meanwhile, my own writing has resumed and my new year’s ambition to get my 5th novel finished is marching on apace.


Other news

-          Latest dates for the upcoming season being finalised on my Retreats for You website - go to the blog page to see them once they appear.

-          One more place left on our ‘Pitch to a Publisher’ weekend in March – more here.

-          Sold out of Alison May’s June dates, now a second week has been released – Sept 23-27, book soon here.

Writers love our 1600s thatched, grade 2 listed house in deepest North Devon, along with home cooked meals, a dash of doggy therapy, or stint in the mini home gym, or a walk in the beautiful North Devon countryside right on our doorstep. Email us for more info!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

best wishes




Beginners’ Guide And if you’re a complete beginner and want to self-publish, my basic guide can be found here - beginner's tips for self-publishing - a summary of info, sites and links to help you on your way. Including my guest blog on prestigious industry website,, which is also a fabulous resource for beginners. And advanced writers!  Go here to read more.

Also - launched  in 2018, Jericho press is the new name for Writers' Workshop - and their £30 a month subs will get you all sorts of free info about how to write a novel and how to self publish. MORE HERE.

Archives Don’t forget to check out the other archives (to the left) for even more fabulous hints, tips, links and blogs.

My books - For the full list of my fiction and non fiction novels, novellas, short stories - info and links to buy them just go here. or see below.

As usual, here’s the round up of my own titles! I’d appreciate a review on Amazon (go here) and Goodreads (go here)! Enjoy! x


eBooks - all available on Amazon – paperback or eBook (kindle or kindle app or kindle on PC or Mac)

paperbacks – five fiction titles all available in paperback – via Amazon – see below.





 HAWAIIAN TRILOGY (2013/4) – romantic fiction in either steamy or PG options!

 Book 1 Hawaiian Escape Steamy or Hawaiian Escape PG, the prequel to Hawaiian Affair - is now available on Amazon in eBook or paperback.

 Book 2 Hawaiian Affair Steamy - now called Take a Chance on Me, with Choc Lit publisher available on Amazon. Paperback can be ordered from almost all bookshops. Reached no 79 in WHSmithsTravel charts.

 Book 3 Hawaiian Retreat - Helen's Story - Just click this link to see steamy version. Paperback also available


DIARY OF A WANNABE SHOPPING CHANNEL PRESENTER – a stand alone story – Bridget Jones meets Alan Partridge meets Eddie Murphy in ‘Holy Man’ –click here to buy Ebook on amazon, and click here to buy paperback.



 ‘When Dreams Return’ (2014) – spooky romantic short story – when Chelle’s pal Sara gets her to conjure up her ideal man with a full moon magic spell, she gets more than she bargained for… also appears in Hocus Pocus anthology.

 The Valentine’s Surprise (2010) is a short story proving it’s never too late to find your Sir Galahad!

Also – for Hallowe’en – an anthology of short spooky stories by 13 authors including many new shorts and my When Dreams Return in paperback! Hocus Pocus ’14 – ebook or paperback.

 'Battle of the Exes', written for Valentine's Day 2015, features in 'Roses are Red' anthology of six short stories on Amazon ebook and paperback too.



 Till the Fat Lady Slims 2.0 – the ‘When’ Diet - is my semi-autobiographical weight loss book – originally published in 2000. It was updated for 2014 to include the latest thinking about nutrition. Learn how to eat like slim people do and published on Amazon as TTFLS 2.0

It was followed a year later by Till the Fat Lady Slims 3.0 – Tips and Tale to Inspire on amazon which introduced new concepts and latest theories on gut bacteria and the inner chimp plus six guises of Freedom Eater.

 Go here to get its predecessor (read 2.0 first) Till the Fat Lady Slims 2.0 – the When diet on amazon

Choc-Lit, UK independent publisher, gave it a revamp and put it on order in Bookshops early 2017 - published just as 'Till the Fat Lady Slims' and with a black silhouette cover, it pulls together elements of all the predecessors, and is a good place to begin if you haven't read any of it yet. Go here to get the Choc Lit 2017 Till the Fat lady Slims on Amazon or order in bookshops.

Amazon review - January 2018 - 

This is a great book and so easy to identify with the author. I have been there and reading this book was like a breath of fresh air. I took on board what was written and lost 3 pounds in the first week. I am still losing but I don't dwell on food or think about it all day which is brilliant. I feel I can get on with my life and food is in its proper place. I eat when I'm hungry and because I am hungry, I enjoy the food all the more. If you are struggling and have tried every diet known to woman - like I have - buy this book. You will not regret it. It is turning my life around and I feel so much more positive than I did.


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