Top Tips For Surviving Christmas, my favourite books of 2018 & other seasonal musings

This is my Christmas and New Year blog post all rolled into one. If you should detect an oddly manic undercurrent, it’s induced by writing this at 5.30am this morning while contemplating all the Christmas cards I’ve not yet sent, presents not yet bought, domestic tasks not yet done, tax forms not yet completed, Facebook posts not read, Tweets not written, friends I haven’t phoned… and a blog post to write.

One thing I have been doing lately is writing my next novel (no. 4). After much mulling, plotting and replotting, I’ve taken the plunge and started the writing proper. I’ve been trying to write every morning, even during my recent holiday to a lush island with my husband, an unexpected source of inspiration. I hope to get this novel well underway before I take a break early next year to finish the edits of Book 3, a darkly comic family drama (to be published by Bombshell Books in May 2019).

One of the many beautiful flowers seen on holiday recently

As it seems to be the time of year for compiling lists of favourite books and whatever, here’s a few of mine:

My most enjoyed books of 2018

Odette cover

Note these are selected from the books I read this year, not necessarily published this year, and aren’t in any order.

  • Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys
  • Valentina by S.E. Lynes
  • Odette by Jessica Duchen (review)
  • The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis
  • Don’t You Dare by AJ Waines
  • Sal by Mick Kitson (review)
  • Duplicity by Sibel Hodge
  • He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly (review)
  • Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land (review)
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill (review)
  • The Dry by Jane Harper (review)

SAL by Mick Kitson

Books I’m most looking forward to reading

  • Over My Shoulder by Patricia Dixon
  • The Perfect Friend by Barbara Copperthwaite
  • The Proposal by S.E. Lynes
  • Malignant by Anita Waller
  • Echo Hall by Virginia Moffat
  • Keep You By My Side (and A Time to Change) by Callie Langridge
  • The Uninvited by J.A. Baker
  • The Lingering by S.J.I. Holliday
  • Sister, Psychopath by Maggie James
  • The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
  • The Optician’s Wife by Betsy Reavley
  • The Fear by C.L. Taylor
  • The Attic Room by Linda Huber
  • The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke
  • The Doll Collector by Joanna Stephen-Ward
  • Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech
  • She Lies Hidden by C.M. Stephenson
  • Ripples on the Pond by Sebnem E. Sanders
  • Love Bites by Elena Kaufman
  • Fukishima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando
  • The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan

Keep You by My Side cover

To cheer up anyone else suffering from Festive Fractiousness, here’s my

Top Tips For Surviving Christmas

  1. Tell your family, friends and loved ones that you’re not going to enter into any acrimonious discussions or joy-sapping arguments about domestic or political matters, especially B****t. Your home will be a haven of serenity and contentment for the duration of the festivities.
  2. Greet all incursions with silence or a patient smile, or both.
  3. Tell everyone you have become a strict atheist and on principle you will not be partaking in any socially-enforced, consumer-driven mass celebrations.
  4. Withdraw to the shed/bathroom/office for some deep breathing.
  5. If all of the above fail, set off alone to a remote hideaway with your favourite food and drink, and lots of books.

On Saturday evening I sang in a Christmas concert at Emanuel Church in West Hampstead (London).


The choir:


I’ll be heading to the French Pyrenees for Christmas and the first days of the new year, but this time with a larger than usual family gathering as my brother and his partner will be joining us, plus our dog. I wonder how we will all get on –– and where we will all sleep (the house is large but not that many bedrooms).

Must go and post some cards… Wishing you a contented, peaceful, inspirational and (at least occasionally) joyful rest of December and 2019.


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