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Cover reveal time: Daisy James

IMG_2167Today I’m helping the lovely Daisy James publicise her latest cover and it’s just perfect. That’s the thing about covers, they’re there to draw the potential reader into their snare with a neon Buy Me tag glistening on their shiny cover ( even if it’s matt) but they’re also a gift. A present from the writer to you with the storyline encapsulated on a 6 X 9 piece of board. If you close your eyes you can almost imagine the Greek sun wreaking its havoc as she grabs a hat from one of the market stalls on her way to her painting class…. want to read it in Daisy’s words, not mine? Go buy the book… Available to buy here on pre-order

SUNSHINE AFTER THE RAIN

The new delightfully uplifting beach read from Daisy James. Perfect for fans of Mandy Baggot, Christie Barlow and Zara Stoneley.

A summer that changes everything…

Frazzled workaholic Evie Johnson has finally had enough! When she’s blamed for a publicity disaster at the art gallery she loves, she decides to flee the bright lights of London for the sun-drenched shores of Corfu and turn her life upside-down.

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A wild Persuit, Eloisa James

IMG_2178Book blurb

It is whispered behind the fans of London’s dowagers and in the corners of the fashionable ballrooms that scandal follows wilfully wild Lady Beatrix Lennox wherever she goes. Three years earlier, the debutante created a sensation by being found in a distinctly compromising position. Now the ton has branded her as unmarriageable, her family has called her a vixen, and Beatrix sees no reason not to go after what – and who – she wishes.

And she wants Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, the handsome Earl of Spade. Beatrix, with her brazen suggestions and irresistibly sensuous allure, couldn’t be more different from the earl’s ideal future bride. Yet Beatrix brings out a wildness in him that he has tried to deny for far too long. Still, he’s not about to play love’s game by Lady Beatrix’s rules. She may be used to being on top in affairs of the heart, but that will soon change.

Available here

My review

I’d heard of EJ, of course I had. She’s a best selling writer after all however this was my first EJ read (the first of many).

But that’s all I knew. I had a name but these days a best selling book can be as much about the marketing as about the words and I’d been disappointed before: those glorious bright shiny balloon books searing through the charts turning out to be soggy bags of hot air and wind.

That said I took a chance and approached this blind. I didn’t read a review. I didn’t check her writing credentials. I just read, over two days and nights – it’s a long book, an unputdownable book. My favourite read of the year up to now book. I’m digressing…

I was confused at the start. My fault. I’d read the blurb and then found none of the characters I was expecting in the first chapter – duh! I even sneaked a peek at the back (not to be recommended) in case this book wasn’t for me. But I didn’t realise as well as being a composite story teller EJ is a clever one. I didn’t realise she is an English Prof with a love of all things Shakespeare –  however, I did sort of work that one out for myself. There’s a Shakespearean comedic feel about this book. Things not what they seem, people running in and out of the wrong bedrooms in the style of a Twentieth Century drawing room farce not what they seem kind of way. I was strongly reminded of probably my favourite romance of all time, Possession by A S Byatt by the end, not that they are in any way alike apart from the poetry.

A.S is one of my favourite writers. She’s also a very clever one. However these are very different books, one a English literary masterpiece, the other an historical American one. They are pitched at very different readers and different markets and written in different styles but the research is impeccable, the writing flawless and the plot… well let’s just say I’m thinking of rolling over and catching up on some sleep.

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Summer at the Little Wedding Shop: Jane Linfoot

Book blurb 

When the owner of Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, offers Lily a job as their new wedding stylist, her first thought is – can she possibly pull it off?

Before she’s even sourced a fairy light or tasted a cupcake, Kip Penryn hires her services – but he’s opened an exclusive wedding venue in direct competition to her friend Poppy! Lily feels like a traitor working for Kip, only everyone knows Penryn men are gorgeous but unreliable. All she has to do is sit back and watch him mess it up…doesn’t she?

Love is in the Cornish sea breeze this summer as the girls tackle their busiest wedding season yet. There’s plenty of bunting, bubbly and baking – but who is going to catch the bouquet?
Available here on pre-order. Published 18th, May.

My review 

We’ve all heard about the wedding of the year, this is the Literary equivalent…

I love romance. What’s not to love? The  psychological kitchen sink drama’s seem to have taken over the literary world but, as a genre I avoid them like the plague.  Yes, they’re well written, well crafted masterpieces but they’re just not my bag. I don’t like surprises. Surprises are for News at Ten. Surprises as an adult aren’t the surprises of a child. They aren’t a last minute trip to the beach, or that special gift just because you deserve it type of surprise.  When was the last time an adult got a nice surprise just because…. Just because they were doing what adults do. Jobs. Housework. School run. Taking the bins out – oh no, that’s the man’s job! These days surprises are usually the little loving gestures brought in by the cat and those are the kind of surprises I can do without.

I think you get I don’t like surprises and yet Jane’s book ended up being just that. I know she’s a good writer, she is best- selling after all and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two in this series however I LOVED THIS ONE. But, funnily enough, at the start I didn’t love all the characters…

The MC, Lily is well rounded, sweet and a good friend. With a failed marriage behind her, a spandex, gym bunny of a mother and no job to call her own she’s searching for a new path and a short term wedding planner job seems to be the short term answer to her  prayers. The men, yes there are two, aren’t easy to like at the start. There’s Kip, the wild boy and even wilder man and wedding business rival – the surly Heathcliff sort and then Fred, the lighter, brighter boy next door type; I disliked both. Or, at least I did until Jane chunked out their characters and their true natures revealed themselves.

There’s lots going on here but this holds its own set of risks and trip wires for the writer. Sub-plots can lead to the reader either getting confused or bored but Jane has excelled herself. There’s Kooky characters coming at you from all sides. If it’s not Lily’s BF’s Instagram stunts with rival Bridzilla, it’s the wedding shop owner’s antics with jet hopping perma-tanned uncle and the continued saga of her mother – just who wants a mother like that!

Well done, Jane but I didn’t expect any less from you. I have just one question- when’s your next one out?

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Just for the Holidays: Sue Moorcroft

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Book Blurb

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy. Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

Book Review

I loved The Christmas Promise (what wasn’t to love) so when I spotted Sue had written another and something set in France it was a sure fired bet I was going to be quick off the mark in adding it to my TBR pile. In fact it shot right to the top but, shush don’t tell anyone.

A mille-feuille read.

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For those who may not know, mille-feuille is the term for those French layered pastries the British have stolen all in the name of the custard slice. A custard slice is not a mille-feuille but that’s for another blog post.  In the context of this review mille-feuille means thousand leaves (layers) and, as this is a book of many parts… It’s also a book where chocolate features heavily so as an analogy it’s staying!

Here we have a family, an extended family in crisis. A broken marriage, no – two broken marriages. Three grieving children. A broken man and a pretty messed up woman. Throw them together in a gite in Alsace along with a car called ‘The Pig’ and there’s bound to be fun, frolics and quite a few tears. I raced through this, if not in one sitting then two. There are gems I’m not going to forget “you cougar” and words that I’m obvs going to have to add to my vocabulary “I fink”. I just loved it, every single word and now… and now I can’t wait until Christmas for her next one.

Available to pre-order here

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The New Beginnings Coffee Club: Sam Tonge 5⭐️

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Book Blurb

Jenny Masters finds herself living the modern dream. Wife to a millionaire, living in a mansion and mother to Kardashian-obsessed ten-year-old April, there isn’t anything missing. Until, her whole world comes crashing down, forcing Jenny and April to leave behind their glittering life and start over with nothing.

With village gossip following her wherever she goes, she finds refuge and a job in the new coffee shop in town. As the days pass Jenny fears she doesn’t have what it takes to pick herself back up and give April the life she always wanted to. But with the help of enigmatic new boss Noah, and housemate Elle, Jenny realises it’s never too late to become the woman life really intended you to be!

Available to pre-order here Out May 5th

My review

As a writer I read, I read a lot. I read all sorts and not just books. Last week I was reading an article by a literary editor written in 2015 about book trends (can’t remember her name) She said the 4 trends were still strong going into 2016:

Murders, psychological thrillers, dystopian and the cupcake brigade.

Up until reading Sam’s latest I’d unconsciously slotted her works into the light fluffy cupcake gang. Well she’s written about cakes (Game of Scones) and what do coffee shops do if not sell cakes? She even has the market cornered on cool Poldark like figures with more sex appeal than a whole counter full of muffins.

But I was wrong…

Sam Tonge has shifted up a gear or two with her latest and, as a reader I’m delighted she’s made the move. Her writing has always been strong, her ideas original and her understanding of what makes people tick worthy of a PHD in psychology.

Sam has shifted from a cupcake writer to a brave  one. A writer who puts their head above the parapet to address social issues.  Addressing, through the medium of paper social issues that some readers may struggle with is brave.

But where would we be without groundbreaking writers? Yes, reading light and fluffy is fine but actually life isn’t light and fluffy. Whilst there may not be a murderer on every corner or a dystopian future set to start in 2018 there are day to day challenges people have to live with, day to day struggles that most people don’t take the time to bother with, wrapped up as they are in their own particular slice of life.

Bravo Sam, an excellent 5⭐️ read –  I look forward to more in this vein.

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Don’t Let Go: Michel Bussi

A book destined for the Big Screen

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Blurb

Picture the scene – an idyllic resort on the island of Réunion. Martial and Liane Bellion are enjoying the perfect moment with their six-year-old daughter. Turquoise skies, clear water, palm trees, a warm breeze…

Then Liane Bellion disappears. She went up to her hotel room between 3 and 4pm and never came back. When the room is opened, it is empty, but there is blood everywhere. An employee of the hotel claims to have seen Martial in the corridor during that crucial hour.

Then Martial also disappears, along with his daughter. An all-out manhunt is declared across the island. But is Martial really his wife’s killer? And if he isn’t, why does he appear to be so guilty?

My Review

Black Water Lilies was my fav read of 2016, no question and I did read over 300 books…

So when I saw that MB was about to release another through Orion I hopped over the NetGalley for an early read just because I could. I was heading to France for Easter and what better place to read a book by one of France’s most popular writer?

I was at page five and I didn’t like it. I have this rule that I live by. If I don’t get past page five I give up. There are just too many other books. But that day sitting on a beach in St Cast I learnt a lesson, a huge lesson because this is just one of  those books. Trying to analyse my initial reaction I think I got confused. Black Water Lilies is set in Normandy and, as I’d never heard of Renunion I assumed I was in French France and not the Indian Ocean. It took me a while to wrap my head around the cultural and indeed writing differences but when ‘I finally got it’ the pages flew by.

The recent influx of psychological kitchen sink thrillers isn’t my bag. I usually guess and, after I’ve guessed I get bored. This is well plotted, highly unusual and the ending is sublime, more than sublime. I loved the ending so much that I can already see it translated over to the big screen. If ever there was a book that would make a fantastic movie this is it. It has everything. Great writing. A cracking plot. Romance. Murder. Relationships. A French African Miss Marple…

 

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Book blogging: why and how

IMG_2071I’ve recently set up a book club called the Bailiwick Book Bunch, or the BBB for short. It’s a no rules club apart from the focus being books, whether they are read, reviewed or written by people either living in, or expats of The Bailiwick (and Jersey, our honour nearest neighbours unless sport is involved of course 😘) If you fit the bill please consider joining in 😆

But it also got me thinking about my own writing journey and why I went down the hybrid route of both writer and reviewer, sometimes a hard path to follow.

I’ve been blogging for years, about twenty in all but only latterly in relation to books. I love reading, I always have and I have literally thousands of books. There’s 400 on my Kindle in addition to about 500 paperbacks by my bed and that doesn’t include the built in bookshelves I got for one of my milestone birthdays. Writing is a more recent pursuit but nearly ten years of scribbling all the same and now, with book 7 well under way I find again I’ve downloaded a whole pile of books that will need to be reviewed in the near future. There honestly aren’t enough hours in the day for us writers.

Here’s a link to a very frank post from one of my favourite book reviewers, Jo Robertson from My Chestnut Reading Tree where she discusses a day in the life of… it’s not all fun and unexpected book packages believe me! Read it here.

So what do you need to become a book blogger?

  • Time to read
  • The enthusiasm to write about what you’ve read. It doesn’t have to be long, or indeed Shakespeare. You don’t need to be able to spell or even understand the role of the comma or full stop. Enthusiasm is key.
  • Somewhere to share your thoughts. This can be on Amazon (writers do love reviews on Amazon, preferably 5 or 4 ⭐ but an honest book will have a smattering across the spectrum because simply put not all readers will like all books.
  • You can also set up a blog, the ones I’ve used are WordPress and Blogspot. This has the additional advantage of providing somewhere where writers can offer their books for you – review policies are a whole post in their own right!
  • NetGalley is another option. A writer, publisher driven vehicle for pre book launch promotions of their, their clients books

What the publishers want from you as  reviewer

Ah, the million dollar question. You’ve done all the above but you don’t have any books to read.

  • Start reviewing the books that you’ve read and copy them on to your blog
  • Cross promote on both Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook you can also post on book review sites.
  • Publishing houses like bloggers with some experience under their belts. They also like them to have a few followers. This takes time, so better start now…

Benefit.

Free books, but when books are cheap anyway? Having your review quoted in the inside of a book? Walking past WH Smith on Guernsey’s High Street and find you’ve read all the 6 books in their window, books chosen by you before they became best sellers? True and very satisfying! Creeping up that top reviewing slot to become an Amazon top reviewer? Being invited to book launches? I’ve recently been invited to one in the States but don’t tell anyone…

Give it a go, it’s fun

 

 

 

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Englishwoman in Manhattan (EIM): a daughter’s tribute

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Today, the 3rd March is always a difficult day in our household as it’s the anniversary of the day we lost my dad. To be exact today is the 25th Anniversary. But it’s a double edged sword. Today is also my sister’s birthday. Today is a difficult day.

The 6th March, the day we said our final goodbyes is no better as it just so happens to be my birthday. My Dad made sure his daughters remember him and, do you know what, now the distance of time is between us I’m glad that we get to share our special days with him and his memory; not that I really celebrate. At one point my sister and I had a pact that we’d celebrate on a different day but it never worked out like that. It is what it is. A Dad is, in many cases the first male role model a girl comes across and can have a huge impact on any future relationships. I count my sister and I amongst the lucky ones.

Englishwoman in Manhattan was inspired by my dad’s own musical journey as he was a very talented pianist who studied at The Royal College of Music in London. I didn’t have to research the piano concertos I’ve included; I was brought up to the sound of Chopin and Bach tinkling away in the background.

You might think it strange I chose to publish today and in a way I agree. It wasn’t intentional but, as with other things in my life coincidences happen. When I put EIM up for pre-order Amazon pinged back with the date and I thought about delaying it and then I thought

Why not have some happy memories associated with such a difficult day. 

So there it is; my book baby is on its own journey and, as only the writer my part is finished  but as a tribute to my Dad’s love of music this one will always hold a special place. Funnily enough it starts with a funeral, not intential. There’s also a competition, my nod to doing something to help it on its way, which you can enter here

EIM is available for 99p on Amazon and is free via KU x

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Lanzarote: book by book

 

 

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I returned from a fab 1/2 term break to Lanzarote yesterday where a great time was had by all. Now, like all writers I know I’m meant to write each day for after all writing isn’t so much a job or indeed a hobby as much as a way of life. I packed a couple of notebooks but I also ensured my Kindle, both of them was stocked to the brim with reads. As you may have guessed I didn’t write a word but I did read an array of delightful books that I’d like to share with you.

Reading like writing can’t be viewed in isolation but in the context of where and what the reader is up to at the time. What’s the mood of today? Am I on a road trip or having a beach day? Do I want romance, murder or both? Above are the books I read, not bad for seven days…

Have you ever been to Lanzarote? It perhaps gets a bad press most days when it doesnt deserve it. What with The Canaries being shown as the Mecca of Stag parties and high rise developments Lanzarote is surely the jewel in the crown with the influence of César Manrique. It’s only a four and 1/2 hour flight from Gatwick, so just time for a couple of reads.

THE VETS OF HOPE GREEN

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I flew through the second in this series by best selling short story and now novel writing Sheila Norton and eagerly await book number three. Sam, pregnant and now single escapes to Hope Green only to find herself in hot water when she accepts a job with grumpy local vet. There’s romance, animals and a bit of intrigue all wrapped up with strong plotting and effortless writing.

ROSIE’S LITTLE CAFE ON THE RIVIÈR

I spent a summer in this part of the world and have a soft spot for all things French. Rosie decides to hang up her yachting gear and set up Cafe Fleur with the help of her best friend but all is not plain sailing with handsome hotelier next door and ex boyfriend turning up to interfere. Escapism at its best with enough plot to keep my mind off the ‘cabin crew ready for landing.’

We dropped off the bags in our apartment and raced across the road to the beach on that first day. It was 26 degrees in the shade and a dip was just the thing after all that travelling. That’s the thing with Kindles. Lying on the sand with nothing to do really isn’t my thing but I don’t have to be bored. I wanted something a little meatier so picked up The Breakdown, the follow-up to BA Paris’s recent runaway success.

THE BREAKDOWN 

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So this kind of book isn’t normally my thing. I haven’t read Behind closed doors and in a way I raised an eyebrow at even downloading it but, nevertheless it was on my Kindle and I did say I wanted something meatier. Well I was dragged kicking and screaming, well not quite but the tale of a girl driving down a lonely stretch of wood had me nearly gnawing at the side of the towel. Good story, strong plot reminiscent of those thrillers in the early Sixties where everything isn’t quite as it first seems.

Ranchero Texas is Lanzarote’s zoo but a zoo with a difference. Have you ever had a vulture with a six foot wing span fly so near overhead as to nearly scrape along the top of your forehead? What about talking to the dolphins or being hugged by a sealion? I didn’t take my Kindle. I didn’t need my Kindle.

We did hire a car this time and followed Cezar’s trail stopping off at Costa Teguise for a swim with the tamer than tame fish. This is where I turned the first page of Relativity and found myself stepping into another universe.

RELATIVITY

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There are some books, not many that long outlive the last page turned and this was one of them. I’m a sucker for happy Ever After’s and I knew instinctively that this was a book I’d find an uncomfortable read. But sometimes those are the best books to read. Set in Australia it tells the tale of a 12 year old boy, a genius, a bullied genius and his relationship with his parents. Clever, uncomfortable. Unforgettable.

Playa Chica is a little beach tucked away from the Old Port where we spent a lot of time. It’s an idyllic setting with the volcanic mountains stretching out from the horizon for as far as the eye can see. I devoured 3 books under their shadow.

RATTLE

If The Breakdown was a difficult read for me Rattle was impossible. I have to admit, of the books I chose it was the one I most regretted as it was outside my comfort zone being at it dealt with child abduction, a topic I normally wouldn’t read out of choice. That aside I can see that I’m sure to be in the minority as it was cleverly put together with very good characterisations. The people inhabiting the story just fizzed out of the pages.

THE BEST OF ADAM SHARP

The problem with reading a book like The Rosie Project is that, once the benchmark has been set as one of my top ten personal favourite books of all time it’s always going to pale in comparison. This is a well written book telling Adam’s tale of a life full of regret, a life he didn’t even realise wasn’t living up to his expectations until an old flame got in touch.  A good enjoyable read but not The Rosie Project.

THE CHILBURY LADIES CHOIR

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I have to admit this was a bit of a winger for me as books written in an epistolary style aren’t really my thing. This added to the fact it’s set in the Forties and therefore immediately was going to remind me of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, bearing in mind I just happen to live there… I think you’ll see where I’m going with this. So I was prepared not to like it. I didn’t like it – I loved it! A cross between Dad’s Army and the aforesaid Guernsey T&PPS this was beach reading at its best with lots going on and the letters, diary entries true to their writers both in style and content. There’s lots of plot and, after chapter two only a hurricane would have made me put the book down.

Evenings in Lanzarote are a mixed bag. There’s bars aplenty with cheap booze (not that we could drink it being as we are well behaved parents), just as there are restaurants all over the place. I have a family of card sharks when I don’t really play so, to while away a few spare minutes I always have my Kindle and am known to sneakily read from time to time.

YOU WILL NOT HAVE MY HATE

This isn’t a book I really wanted to read. It’s been lingering for a while but the watch that I never wear suddenly ticked to a place where I couldn’t let it linger any longer. It tells the account of happily married Antoine and Helene and their little 17 month old boy, that is until the terrorise attack in Paris. It’s a true account written by Antoine over the few days following Helene’s tragic murder and is heart wrenching in the extreme. I’m glad I didn’t let it linger any longer…

My holiday was over yesterday, or it would have been if I hadn’t started another book on the journey back, a book I’ve only just finished.

A MAN WITH ONE OF THOSE FACES.

I don’t know about you but when I’m travelling I need something good to get me past all the rubbish that goes on all around me. Passengers arguing about having to pay double when they asked for a second teabag. Someone opposite arguing with the air hostess for touching their bag. Some people! I started A man with one of those faces and the plane fell away. Written by Irish comedian and set in my home town (Dublin) it’s an hilarious read. Set in a hospice it starts with one of the nurses getting one of the ‘professional visitors ‘ or ‘granny whisperers’ to visit one last patient, a patient who subsequently tries to kill him before dying himself. I’ve had the book glued to my side ever since – have you heard me laughing?

Well that’s the end of my hols but not my memories, both of a lovely holiday and some great words…

 

 

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Book Number Seven

img_1610What with book number six now at a well known publisher along with book number five ( Englishwoman in… Trilogy) I’m back in the hot seat with book number 7.

Why do I say this?

Well book number 7 is actually Book number 5! Confused? I don’t blame you as no one’s more confused than I am.

I started this Irish set stand alone romance /tragedy in May last year when I was off sick for the first time ever. I was on drugs up to my eyeballs for sciatica and the words on the page were very dark, too dark for me to cope with. I don’t mind my readers having tears streaming down their faces but when typing, damp eyes do tend to obscure the keys somewhat. So instead of struggling on I put it aside and wrote something lighter, or lighter for me – Englishwoman in Paris, inspired by next door’s scaffolder who just happened to be in my field of vision 😉. I’m trying not to obsess too much about having a book under consideration, because each successive book in my mind is better than the last so one day…

So while I wait with bated breath for news of my book babies I’m ignoring the  follow up to Englishwoman in Manhattan for now. Instead I’ve a whole pile of TBR’s to catch up on not to mention book reviews and of course book number 7. I’m worried it may have been the pain killers typing now I’m booting up my laptop with a clear head but only time will tell. I’m only 10,000 words in so still lots to do.