March 2023 Reads (and autumn updates)

Here we are again, a surprising one month later.

I didn’t mean to take a break from blogging. If anything, I had grand plans of writing more due to a week off and the public holidays. But God had a way of surprising me while I was away, and my writing ended up being for myself and for Him. Which is good.

Interestingly enough, two weeks after this period I went to the Newcastle Writers Festival and attended a talk by the author Lee Kofman, who speaks of not writing. That this is part of the process. That not writing The Thing is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your time. I am still not sure if this was a lesson I needed to learn, but it was noted nonetheless.

I have been enjoying autumn so far. Those who know me know my favourite seasons are the cooler ones, with the invitation to slow down sooner and find your way home. There is something to be said for the stillness we can find within the warm glow of the living room while the world outside darkens.

I feel settled in this time… something I have prayed for most of my life has been a strong community in the church, and there has been a joy in seeing this answer to prayer. I am able to invest, serve and connect. There are imperfections, but I feel part of something good.

When I was living in Sydney, I did not take all of the opportunities I could have. While this can be due, in part, to lockdowns, I know it is also because I didn’t feel fully at home there. I did not try as much as I could have. My heart wasn’t in it.

I am discovering a new joy that is exploring what is around me, in realising I can say yes. Going to the Newcastle Writers Festival by myself and having a great experience, accepting invitations to meet up with people I call friends and those I do not know as well yet. In some ways I still feel new and slightly unsure in certain situations, but there is an ease that was not there a few months ago. Being consistent in showing up has made a big difference and brought about lovely friendships.

That being a quick update of the last few weeks, now we turn to the books I have read!

A Single Thread of Moonlight by Laura Wood

A take on the classic Cinderella, I enjoyed the mystery of this story as our protagonist pretends to be someone she is not and delves back into her past. Laura Wood’s stories are always engaging and humorous, with strong, intelligent characters. 4 stars.

The Jane Austen Writer’s Club by Rebecca Smith

A non-fiction book that studies the classics by Jane Austen and teaches you how to write. From basic plotting to more intricate details, such as how animals are portrayed in Austen’s novels, this book was quite fascinating. I liked that it included writing exercises that you could implement into your own work, such as introducing a character or building a village as Austen does. It gave me ideas on how to incorporate minor character’s backstories and how to give characters their own voice. 3.5 stars.

The Agency for Scandal by Laura Wood

This story centres on a group of young women in the late 1800’s who go undercover to help other women who are stuck in marriages where they are mistreated and left with nothing. The protagonist, Isobel, is particularly skilled with picking locks and ends up in a scheme surrounding blackmail, murder, and powerful men in society. As it is Young Adult fiction, the story remains entertaining and quick to read, with nothing gory or inappropriate. 4.5 stars.

The Mystery of Mistletoe Hall by Benedict Brown

Another light mystery, this story reminded me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. A group of people seemingly without connection are invited to a house to celebrate Christmas by a host who is found to be murdered. Numerous others are murdered along the way, though the story is told by the detective’s teenage grandson, so again there is nothing gory or scary about the story. 3 stars.

Happy reading and happy autumn!

Sarah xx

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