2019 Book Challenge Summary

I did it! I hit my small little goal of 12 books to read in 2019. And not only did I achieve it, I surpassed it (by one book!)

Books Read in 2019:

(All photos are my own from my Instagram @melholdenwrites)

1. Let It Snow – John Green

2. Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

3. Billy and Me – Giovanna Fletcher

4. Doctor Whoโ€™s Time Lord Fairy Tales

5. Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

6. Scarlet – Marissa Meyer

7. Wilde Like Me – Louise Pentland

8. Some Kind of Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

9. The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan

10. Always With Love – Giovanna Fletcher

11. Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King

12. The Christmasaurus – Tom Fletcher

13. The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‹๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐ฎ๐๐จ๐ซ – ๐๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐š ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ‘‘ | quick book review (spoilers!)

โ€™๐’€๐’๐’– ๐’…๐’๐’โ€™๐’• ๐’ˆ๐’†๐’• ๐’•๐’ ๐’ƒ๐’† ๐’‚ ๐’‡๐’‚๐’—๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’† ๐’‚๐’• ๐’‚ ๐’•๐’š๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’•โ€™๐’” ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’“๐’• ๐’˜๐’Š๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’–๐’• ๐’ƒ๐’†๐’‰๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’š๐’๐’–๐’“ ๐’‘๐’“๐’Š๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’‘๐’๐’†๐’” ๐’†๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’š ๐’…๐’‚๐’š.โ€™

Quick Review: 4.5 โญ๏ธ

๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‹๐š๐ฌ๐ญ ๐“๐ฎ๐๐จ๐ซ – ๐๐ก๐ข๐ฅ๐ข๐ฉ๐ฉ๐š ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ“š ๐Ÿ‘‘


Despite only having read a third of the Tudor & Plantagenet novels, even I can hear the authorโ€™s finality in the way she writes the last book of the series. Another story of sisters hindered by their births being so close to the throne; so hindered by the ambition of others.


Lady Jane Grey – the Nine Day Queen, Lady Katherine – imprisoned for marrying without permission until she died of heartbreak, and the Lady Mary, the most resilient of all the Grey sisters; a born dwarf struggling against life as a courtier.

You can not help but feel sorry for them and for the lengths at wish they suffered just for being cousins to the infinitely jealous Queen Elizabeth I.

๐Ÿ“– Book 26 of 2020 ๐Ÿ“š

Sea Witch & Sea Witch Rising – Series Book Review

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve just started writing a mermaid/fantasy novel for Camp NaNoWriMo 2020! As part of my research, I’ve been reading as many mermaid books as possible. So I was delighted when I came across these two by Sarah Henning.ย 

Star Ratings:

Sea Witch: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Sea Witch Rising: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Series Overall:ย  โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

Series Review:ย 

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I read these books back-to-back, so I’ll admit I skipped the first chapter of Sea Witch Rising, as it was just the last chapter for the first book. I have already posted a single review for Sea Witch, which you can find here.

Sea Witch is the story of a human witch caught up with two princes in a kingdom that fears magic. To further complicate things; this kingdom also contains mermaids, and the magic to turn mermaids into humans – but at a price. When mermaids, witches, and royal human princes mix – you know you are in for an interesting ride. Evie, the witch and our main protagonist, has barely touched the surface of her own magic; always fighting its call to stay close to her best friend, Prince Nick.

45917112._SY475_Sea Witch Rising continues fifty years after the first book, revealing what happened to the witch Evie. Transformed at the end of Sea Witch, she is no longer human but has become the Sea Witch herself.

Despite being feared by mermaids; a fear drummed up by their power-hungry king, one of the king’s own daughters seeks Evie’s magic. Alia, desperately in love with the new king – Prince Nick’s grandson – and begs the Sea Witch to turn her into a human. She consents, but then has to face the anger of not on the Sea King- but Alia’s sisters. Alia’s twin, Runa, makes her own bargain with the witch in hopes she can save her sister from her mistakes.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the story threading the books together, however, I did find the past and present chapter switches in Sea Witch a little confusing – but I think that is down to having one voice actor with no tonal changes (I listened to both books on BorrowBox).

Although I enjoyed the incorporation of a new generation of mermaids and magic in Sea Witch Rising, I wish we had more information on what happened to the princes in the fifty years that passed. I think – as most people would – that I would have enjoyed the ending of Sea Witch more if she had been given her happy ending. But, if she had then Sea Witch Rising couldn’t have happened, and we would be deprived of new wave characters.

Sea Witch Rising ends with a possible lead into a third book, so I really hope Sarah Henning goes with it. Runa is an intriguing character, and she brings back the feistiness from the first book, whilst keeping a vulnerability that leads down an unexpected – and romantic – path.

I would recommend this series! It is YA, but I would suggest parents check it out before letting a child under 12 read it (there are some descriptions of blood and death, which some children can be sensitive to.) If you enjoy the Disney Twisted Tales, then this series is a good read for you; with some subtle nods to the original Hans Christain Anderson story, and The Little Mermaid movie we all know and love.

๐‘บ๐’†๐’‚ ๐‘พ๐’Š๐’•๐’„๐’‰ – ๐‘บ๐’‚๐’“๐’‚๐’‰ ๐‘ฏ๐’†๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐ŸŒŠ ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ – Quick Book Review

Quick Review: 4.5 โญ๏ธ

I found this take on the original The Little Mermaid really interesting. The author is clearly aware of both the original story, and the Disney adaptation as there are elements of both weaves throughout.

I wonโ€™t spoil it – but I was pleasantly surprised by this retelling, and there were definitely some twists and turns that I didnโ€™t see coming.

I will say that I found the use of a present tense first person narrative a little confusing at times, as the book covers two main characters POV, and also goes back and forth in time. This May be because I was listening to it as an audiobook and there is only one voice actress (who does a brilliant job).

I would highly recommend for anyone that enjoys a mermaid or a fairy tale twisted retelling. Itโ€™s a little bit gory, so I wouldnโ€™t advise for children under 12.

QOTD: how do people take beautiful photos of their tablets and e-readers on IG? I canโ€™t get the glare off mine ๐Ÿ“ธ ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Book 27 of 2020 ๐Ÿงœโ€โ™€๏ธ ๐Ÿ“–

Read via Borrow Box ๐ŸŽง

๐™ณ๐šŠ๐š ๐š— ๐š๐š˜ ๐™ผ๐š’๐š๐š—๐š’๐š๐š‘๐š | ๐š™๐š˜๐šŽ๐š๐š›๐šข ๐ŸŒ“

Dawn brings the peace

Twilight will provide the calm,

and Midnight always remembers.

๐™ฒ๐š‘๐šŠ๐š—๐š๐šŽ ๐™ต๐šž๐š๐šž๐š›๐šŽ ๐™ท๐š’๐šœ๐š๐š˜๐š›๐šข | ๐š™๐š˜๐šŽ๐š๐š›๐šข

We are living through history.

One day,

children will flick through textbooks, and

wonder why the world

thought it was acceptable

to isolate people

for the colour of their skin.

We are living through history,

and now is the time to change.

๐š‚๐šž๐š—๐š›๐š’๐šœ๐šŽ ๐šƒ๐š˜ ๐š‚๐šž๐š—๐š›๐š’๐šœ๐šŽ | ๐š™๐š˜๐šŽ๐š๐š›๐šข โ˜€๏ธ

Sunrise brought hope and joy,

Mid-morning came with youth.

Noon reminded we were halfway there,

Afternoon poured the tea.

Evening turned down the lights

Nightfall dragged us through the dark,

waiting and whispering, wishing

Sunrise would come again.

Here begin the long days… (poetry)

Here begin the long days,

where time stands still

For a nation.

Endless tea and snacks

and never quite getting dressed.

Here begin the long days.

When we sacrificed a lot

Here begins the times,

so we donโ€™t sacrifice the many.

I welcome the long days,

I welcome the quiet.

I welcome the long lives

The long days will give us.

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š | Book Review

โ€˜๐šƒ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š›๐šŽโ€™๐šœ ๐š—๐š˜ ๐š‹๐š’๐š๐šŒ๐š‘ ๐š˜๐š— ๐šŽ๐šŠ๐š›๐š๐š‘ ๐š•๐š’๐š”๐šŽ ๐šŠ ๐š–๐š˜๐š๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š๐š›๐š’๐š๐š‘๐š๐šŽ๐š—๐šŽ๐š ๐š๐š˜๐š› ๐š‘๐šŽ๐š› ๐š”๐š’๐š๐šœ.โ€™

๐™ณ๐š˜๐š•๐š˜๐š›๐šŽ๐šœ ๐™ฒ๐š•๐šŠ๐š’๐š‹๐š˜๐š›๐š—๐šŽ – ๐š‚๐š๐šŽ๐š™๐š‘๐šŽ๐š— ๐™บ๐š’๐š—๐š

๐—ฆ๐˜‚๐—บ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜†:

Dolores Claiborne has a story to tell. But not quite what the police had expected. Dolores Claiborne has a confession to make… (taken from the blurb).

๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜„: 4/5 โญ๏ธ

A good read if youโ€™re looking to dip into Stephen Kingโ€™s mind without delving into the abyss that is The Green Mile (Iโ€™ve never been brave enough!)

The main character, Dolores Claiborne, spends a long time telling a long story – and every word is necessary.

The book is written primarily in a one-person stream of consciousness, in the voice of a 66-year-old housekeeper and carer from Little Tall Island, Maine.

Stephen King has always been a truthful, visceral author, and he has no problem capturing the voice of an old, troubled woman.

My only qualm was that I struggled to get into it due to the way itโ€™s written, but once you get over the colloquial style – it sucks you in.

Would highly recommend!

Immoral Immortal | PART SEVEN | Flash Fiction

Click here to read Parts 1 – 6.ย 

PART SEVEN:

Irving tried to blink several times before his eyes would fully open. They felt as though they had been glued shut for weeks. As he would later discover โ€“ it had been six days. Six days since he had been gunned down in his own home; his sanctuary. It wasnโ€™t his first flirtation with a fatality, but he didnโ€™t care for it all the same.

Reality came shuddering back around him; the sound of nurses busying about their day in the corridor, the distant screams of a woman in labour. A building in which life and death both fought a daily battle; contending for the populace. Irving had always felt safe in hospitals; the familiarity of a medical environment, but waking up alone in a dimmed and empty ward, hidden behind the blue screens took the comfort away. He was very much on the back foot. He pushed his palms into the hard mattress, raising himself up in the bed until he found a vaguely comfortable sitting position. His legs seemed heavy and led-like and utterly no use at all, and Irving presumed it was the fatigue.

The curtains around his bed were drawn shut, but he could make out the human-shaped shadow approaching his bedside. The woman who emerged was altogether alarmingly unexpected. She greeted him with her usual sweet smile, tinged with a deep sadness that could not be ignored.

โ€˜Kathy? What on earth are you doing here?โ€™ Irving didnโ€™t know what else to say.

โ€˜You never allocated a new next of kin, so they contacted your old one instead.โ€™ Kathy bent slightly and kissed Irvingโ€™s forehead. She wore a soft, grey roll neck jumper that forgivingly clung to her gracefully aged curves and bootcut trousers that exposed a pair of black kitten heels. Irving could smell her perfume lingering in the air; sweetening every breath he took as if in a field of daisies.

โ€˜Iโ€™m sorry they bothered you. Itโ€™s nothing to worry about.โ€™

โ€˜Nothing to worry about?โ€™ Kathy looked confused and outraged all at once, but that sad smile never vacated her lips. โ€˜You were shot at.โ€™

โ€˜Yes, well it was a tad unexpected. But Iโ€™m right as rain, just a bit tired is all. You really donโ€™t need to be here. Iโ€™m sure the doctor will be round to discharge me soon.โ€™

โ€˜Irving.โ€™ The confusion on his ex-wifeโ€™s face melted away and left something else in its place. Pity. โ€˜They told me the doctor would have already spoken to you before I got here.โ€™ Irving had Kathy had lived very separate lives for over ten years, but he still knew every inch of her face.

โ€˜Not good?โ€™ His voiced piqued.

โ€˜No, not good.โ€™ Kathy hastily wipes away a year and sniffed; attempting to curtail the oncoming cry at bay.

โ€˜Tell it to me straight, love.โ€™ An old familiar affection slipping from his lips as naturally as air escaped his lungs. They were both older and wiser now, but as she sat perched on the edge of his bed, stroking his hand with her thumb โ€“ it was if the pain and heartache of their divorce had never happened. Instead, of a world-worn middle-aged woman, she was the matter-of-fact young solicitor with a closed heart and an open mind who he had been charmed by all those years ago.

โ€˜It shattered a rib, punctured your right lung, and there is shrapnel embedded in your spinal cord.โ€™ She took a deep breath and tried to keep it together for a moment longer. โ€˜Operations would probably paralyse you from the neck down, and leaving it will eventually kill you if it decides to move. Thereโ€™s nothing to be done, my love. Stalemate.โ€™

โ€˜Bugger.โ€™ Irving knew that if Kathy said it was hopeless, then that was that. She would have called in favours from the best doctors in the city. Everyone who was anyone owed Kathy Stiles a favour.

โ€˜I am truly sorry.โ€™ She squeezed his hand, unsure what else to say.

โ€˜Iโ€™ve got a question for you.โ€™

โ€˜Anything? What do you need? What is it?โ€™

โ€˜Is my apartment in better or worse shape than I am?โ€™

โ€˜Your apartment can be repaired and replaced. You cannot.โ€™

โ€˜Know any good workmen? I might need a bit of help fitting the wheelchair ramps.โ€™ Irving smirked, swerving to dodge a swat from Kathy. He became worryingly aware for the first time since opening his eyes just how little of his body he could feel. He stretched his arms out to test them; bending, twisting and wiggling everything possible. All seemed to be in working order. Then he moved onto his toes, commanding them to dance under the thin blanket. Nothing. Irving asked his knees to bend, but there was no response. Nothing Irving asked of his lower body was permitted. He was communicating, screaming internally at anything below his hips to move โ€“ even a little โ€“ but nothing happened, and nothing kept happening. His jokes about a wheelchair ramp now seemed naรฏve.

โ€˜Iโ€™m never going to walk again, am I?โ€™ It was a question but he didnโ€™t want to hear the answer, and she didnโ€™t give him one. Kathy had told him plain and simple that he was paralysed, but his mind had chosen โ€“ much like his legs โ€“ not to listen. ย She sat silently holding his hand, and finally, let her own tears flow. Irvingโ€™s tears soon followed suit.

They were eventually interrupted by his doctor, an hour too late to break the news to Irving himself. Irving was deaf to his commiseration and feeble strategies for recovery. Nothing in his medical toolkit could make walk Irving walk again. He just wanted to go home and fix his apartment, to have a large glass of whisky and to keep helping young Ric with the mystery of the long dead. Perhaps even return to work with witty quips about his new wheels and recant brave and elaborate tales to his eager students. Instead, Irving politely let the doctor say his piece, nodding every twenty words or so. Once the doctor had left him, and Kathy had said her goodbyes โ€“ promising to return later on โ€“ Irving closed his eyes to the world and wished he had never opened them.