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August Reading – crime, hungry seals, & alien life

So, somehow July got away on me, and here we are in August at the end of August…

So, somehow July got away on me, and here we are in August at the end of August and I don’t know how? Can someone tell me where that month went, and also how I can stop it happening again, please?

I mean, I will admit that for a while there (such as, maybe, while in lockdown in one form or another in the UK for much of 2020 and into this year) I didn’t mind time going a little quickly, but I’d like it to stop now. It’s making me feel I should be more productive, or creative, or active, or something-ive. I could swear it was Christmas just the other day, and I’m finding it seriously hard to believe that it’s over four months since I arrived back in NZ. Four months.

I don’t understand where it’s gone, and I feel vaguely … guilty about it?

As if I’ve wasted it. Squandered it, as if the simple act of existing and living and negotiating a world that has a familiar outline but unfamiliar details just isn’t enough. Because that time’s gone, and what did I do with it? Where’s my pandemic masterpiece? What can I show for it, where’s my proof of my pandemic worth? I need to prove that I made The Best Of Things! (TM)

Do you know that feeling? I think a lot of us might. I think a lot of us feel that while the pandemic stretches on and on, and other things in our worlds crack and crumble, still we should have done more. That we should be doing more right now. We should have learned a new skill, or mastered an old one, or repainted the house, or taken to growing our own veg, or written more books (ha). That all this time has been lost and we have nothing we can point to and say, look at me being a productive member of society.

And, look. I can’t pretend, even for a moment, that I’ve got any wisdom to impart on this. I’m as bewildered and confused as you are. More so, probably. But I do know one thing.

reading, bookworm, heide goody, iain grant, sealfinger, ben aaronovitch, rivers of london, sandy toksvig, flying under bridges

Art by The Latest Kate (

We’re all being too hard on ourselves.

Our world has changed. It has changed drastically. Everything is different. Everything is unfamiliar. We don’t know if it’ll ever look like it did before. We are unsettled. The ground beneath us has shifted. Our certainties don’t feel so certain anymore.

And we have weathered it. We’re still weathering it. We’re getting through as best we can. We’re trying to be calm. We’re trying to be kind. We’re trying to see the light where we can, and accepting the dark when we can’t. We’re doing this.

And that, lovely people, is amazing. It’s huge and monumental and worthy of celebration.

So repeat after me:

I’m being too hard on myself.

I’m doing an awesome job just surviving.

Everything else can wait.

Everything. Else. Can. Wait.

And now go and grab some cake, because even if all else is uncertain, cake is not. Cake is here for us. Then we shall talk about books. Because they’re here for us too. And both these things matter.

Just like you.

Ah – sorry about the wind. I knew it was windy, but didn’t realise it was windy enough to give me the audio quality of a news reporter in a wind tunnel who’s forgotten to put that woolly thing on the mic. Hopefully you can still hear it!

Flying Under Bridges, Sandy Toksvig. Look, I was always going to buy this. It’s Sandy Toksvig. And while I approached it with some caution, as I have very few celebrities I actually like, and I didn’t want my illusions shattered, I’m happy to report that it’s just the sort of book you imagine Sandy Toksvig would write. It’s warm and funny and thoughtful and a little heartbreaking, and I will be buying more of her books. A large plate of scones with cream and jam, and a nice warm pot of tea, preferably to share with a friend.

“I don’t seem to have been a useful age since I was eight and finally old enough to have my own bicycle. After that it seems to have been pretty much downhill.”

– Sandy Toksvig, Flying Under Bridges

Sealfinger, Heide Goody & Iain Grant. A crime romp very much in the style of Carl Hiaasen, complete with not-very-bright criminals suffering dire physical consequences from their doings. In Skegness rather than Florida, though. Not a whodunnit, as we follow both the protagonist in her role as detective as well as the criminals as everything winds up to a fairly off the wall conclusion. A good easy read, and I’ll pick up more in the series. A large cuppa and a couple of digestives.

“Northern Ireland, Kashmir, the Middle East … Cesar probably believed all could be solved with a catering-sized box of PG Tips and an inexhaustible supply of digestives.”

– Heide Goody & Iain Grant, Sealfinger

Demonic Indemnity, Craig McLay. This had an intriguing set-up – supernatural entities are an accepted part of society (some more accepted than others), and the protagonist, Tim, has just been recruited into a secretive branch of his insurance agency. He’s the only human in the department, where they deal with the more dangerous claims – possession, zombification, fun things like that. Of course, things get weird, corruption is uncovered, and it’s up to Tim to deal with it. The writing was decent, and the story moved along well enough, but I never really connected with Tim. I did finish it, though, and would likely pick up another by the same author. A half of Hellfire Ale to be going on with.

“Humans were not considered to be good at messy, at least not by the wider paranormal community, who considered them weak, easily scared and far too vulnerable to even the mildest threats, like fairies and slow-moving zombies.”

– Craig McLay, Demonic Indemnity

Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch. (Also known as Midnight Riot in the States). This is a re-read for me, because all the ebooks were on sale the other week and somehow my finger slipped on the Buy it now button. Seven times. Ahem. Anyhow, it’s been that long since I first read Rivers of London (and the next two or three books in the series – can’t remember), that I needed to revisit them before continuing, anyway. And I thoroughly recommend jumping into this world if you haven’t already. It’s funny, full of action, and packed with a magical London that has a character all of its own. A large cuppa and one of Molly’s full English breakfasts. Don’t think she does veggie options, though…

“Being a seasoned Londoner, Martin gave the body the “London once-over” – a quick glance to determine whether this was a drunk, a crazy or a human being in distress. The fact that it was entirely possible for someone to be all three simultaneously is why good-Samaritanism in London is considered an extreme sport – like BASE jumping or crocodile wrestling.”

– Ben Aaronovitch, Rivers of London

reading, bookworm, heide goody, iain grant, sealfinger, ben aaronovitch, rivers of london, sandy toksvig, flying under bridges

Art by The Latest Kate (

Now, over to you, lovely people – how are you doing out there? Any books that have helped you through? What would you recommend to me over a cuppa? Let me know below!

And until next time – keep looking after yourselves, lovely people. You’ve got this.

ben aaronovitch, book chat, books, bookworm, flying under bridges, Heide Goody, Iain Grant, rading, rivers of london, sandy toksvig, sealfinger

  1. Kelvin Gosnell says:

    Books that have helped me through? Like you, I am addicted to “Rivers of London” series. Spotted the first one in Waterstones and had to have it because Peter Grant was so like my son-in-law (a PC at Charing Cross nick). Couldn’t resist after that. Got most of the kids reading them now. When I grow up, I’d like to be Mr Nightingale (and have his car!)
    Now, if you like the London-based madness of “Rivers…” then please try the “Bryant and May” series by Christopher Fowler. Described as about a pair of golden age policemen in the modern world. They are two very old detectives heading up the Peculiar Crimes Unit; set up by Churchill during WW2. The have a rich and fruitful band of characters about them. The stories are often silly, stretch the bounds of possibility and are a complete joy. These really ARE laugh-out-loud books! It helps if you know a bit about London but if you get on with Peter and Nightingale then it shouldn’t be a problem.
    What else lifts me up? Well, there’s this series about dragons getting involved with a Yorkshire WI in solving cosy mysteries. There’s also a series about a cat detective which, being a dedicated dog-person, I didn’t fancy. Then I read the first one and she’s got me. Thanks, Kim – lifting my spirits really well.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Ach, you’re too lovely. Nothing lifts me up like knowing my books do the same for someone else! That’s made my week. Thank you 🙂

      And I really need to get onto Bryant & May – you’re at least the third person to mention them to me, so it’s time I started paying attention. They sound like just my sort of thing! And I love how London is such a rich place setting for books like these. I’ve spent a little time there – a few months of the obligatory Kiwi-just-arrived-on-big-OE pub work, many years ago, then a few mini-breaks that were dedicated to exploring. I find cities overwhelming, but a few days to hunt around and discover all the interesting spots is so much fun. And I love being able to read certain passages and think, I know that!

      It’s brilliant that you picked up the first Rivers book because of your son-in-law! It’s always so interesting how we come to certain books. And even more lovely that they’ve all been passed around now. Most of my family aren’t so into fantasy, so I have to share that sort of thing with friends!


    Gosh! I feel exactly the same. Like, how in the world is it almost Autumn again?!? I swear it was just Spring yesterday. I’ve had a list (that keeps growing by the way) of things I’ve wanted to get done since I can’t go anywhere anyway and have I gotten it all done? No not even close. What have I been doing? I’m afraid I’ve spent months just staring at the walls 🙁

    So thank you for the kind words since I don’t seem to have any for myself! We are way too hard on ourselves. Expecting more of ourselves than we would ever expect of others, so it’s a good reminder 🙂

    I just finished the 6th book in the “Familiar Kitten Mysteries: by Sara Bourgeois. Mostly for the snarky kitten who doesn’t even come close to my favorite snarky cat whom you’re quite familiar with 😉

    All we can do is continue to carry on. Stay safe yourself and don’t forget to apply a lot of that self care to you also 🙂

    1. Kim Watt says:

      We’re always too hard on ourselves. That old thing about “would you talk to others the way you talk to yourself” is so true! I’m so glad this served as a reminder that you really are doing amazingly just as you are. Sometimes just being is monumental, and I think that’s been especially true recently. Well, “recently” as in the last year or so … Hang in there. And know that your blog comments always bring me happiness, so that’s your good deed for the week done, too!

      As for snarky cats … I’ve been spending some time with a certain one. I was meant to be doing Serious Things with keywords and meta data and stuff like that, and am somehow 20,000 words into arguing cats and thoughtful green snakes and sad houses. Which just goes to show how well I plan my days. 😉

      And thank you – I’m very good at telling everyone else to practise self care, and very bad at doing it myself. But I shall try 🙂 Look after you!

      1. Linda says:

        Your words of wisdom about being kind to yourself hit home. We all need a Beaufort in our lives. Finishing the Beaufort Scales series now I’m absolutely loving them! They were recommended for people who like Rivers of London. And if you get the chance to listen to any of those audiobooks, the narrator Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is absolutely beyond wonderful! He makes an already phenomenal series even better – kind of like the recipes at the end of your books. The icing on the cake if you will ; >

        1. Kim Watt says:

          We do all need a Beaufort! And I’m glad the blog connected with you – I’m the first to admit that I’m a work in progress when it comes to being kind to myself, but it’s such an important thing. I hope you can find the time and space to do just that ❤️

          And I’m so glad you’re loving the books – that’s wonderful to hear, and thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. I appreciate it hugely – and I’m glad you like the recipes. I’m playing with some for the nest book at the moment, and it’s hard work, I tell you. Such hard work… 😉

  3. Hillary Gamerow says:

    Oh Kim, we can all do with that reminder – ain’t no one here but us chickens! Although whenever some kind soul asks if I would talk to others as I would talk to myself, I can’t help but think of that wonderful quote from George Bernard Shaw: do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same…

    Your writing is one of the bright lights of this world. I’m especially fond of Gobs, Callum and that little green guy. Can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that you’re hanging out with them. Until you set the next novel free, I’ve been self-medicating with kittens (mom showed up on my doorstep and promptly gave birth a few days later. On the doorstep! So what was any self-respecting Crazy Cat Lady to do? Take them all in, of course. No black kittens though 🙁 ) oh and I found a recipe for banana bread laced with Nutella around the same time. And books, lots of books, some new, some old friends

    Rivers of London fans unite!
    For He Can Creep – Siobhan Carroll (cat alert + fabulous writing!)
    The City Between – WR Gingell (only two more agonizing days to the next book! Talk about time and perceptions…)
    The Rook – Daniel O’Malley – clever, warm and laugh out loud funny at times
    Mary Bennet and The Bingely Codex – Joyce Harmon writes The Regency Magic series, far and away the the best of all the Jane Austen recyclers. IMHO
    Sir Terry Pratchett
    In The Garden of Iden – Kage Baker

    Have you read Temeraire yet? Oh! And I also think you’d like Gerry Durrell’s Corfu series.

    And now I have new authors to read, Huzzah!

    Thank your for asking the time to write these blogs. And for the gift of sharing your wonderful imagination and wring with us.

    1. Kim Watt says:

      Hi Hillary – thanks so much for your lovely comment! I’m so glad the blog connected with you. It’s so easy to forget what we’ve all been through over the past year or so – what life in general puts us through – and to be far too hard on ourselves. Although the quote made me snort – quite right! I stumbled across a meme a while ago that suggested talking to ourselves the way we talk to cats, and I kind of adore that. “Do you need a treat? Let’s have a treat. You DESERVE a treat. Oh, you want to bite someone? Well, you probably shouldn’t, but it’s okay to want to…”

      And self-medicating with kittens? I can think of no treatment more likely to bring joy. Lucky mother cat finding you! She obviously knew just what human to go to when she needed help, as they always do. Kittens, books, and nutella banana bread – possibly the prescription for a good life. Certainly the best one I’ve heard, anyway!

      Fantastic books list, too! I’m going to add a load of those to my wish list. I’ve banned myself from buying anything more at the moment after the splurge on Rivers of London. My TBR is painfully overloaded, and I seem to be adding to it faster than I can read. MUCH faster. Sigh. I need to include in my self-care prescription one afternoon of reading every week, I think. That would help immensely!

      Many years ago, I headed to Europe to find work in Greece. And my major driving force behind that was how much I loved the Corfu trilogy as a child. I still do! Such beautiful reads – wonderfully evocative description, and so funny. I never did make it to Corfu, but I worked in Greece for two summers, and I the heat and the olive groves felt intensely familiar, just from those books. ❤️

      Thank you SO MUCH for your lovely words. It’s a joy to be able to share my worlds, and it means everything to know others enjoy them! Happy reading!

Comment away! (Points awarded for comments involving cats, tea, or baked goods)

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