book reviews april and sleep

Book Reviews April 2023 and sleep

This post is part of the #What’sonyourBookshelfchallenge

Hello Everybody,

Welcome to my Book Reviews April 2023.

I don’t seem to have made much progress through my reading list this month but I do have a couple of book reviews to share with you below.  

As I don’t have many books to share, I thought I would share my thoughts on SLEEP and bedtime routines as reading is an important part of mine. 

Did you know that 62% of people in the world have problems sleeping?  I believe there are a number of factors that influence people’s sleep struggles: 

1. Our busy, hectic lifestyles which trigger our flight or fight response.  

Society perpetuates the belief that to be a success we need to be busy all the time.  We make increasing demands on ourselves that we must have successful careers, which will then enable us to have successful home lives ie. Fancy houses, fancy cars, fancy holidays and successful relationships.  There is this constant mental list of all the attributes that will denote a life well lived and we therefore put ourselves under constant pressure to attain them all.  

2. The belief that we don’t deserve to rest

This ties in with point one above.  If we take time out to rest we deem ourselves as lazy or failing in some way.  Weekends, holidays, free time must be packed full of activities to keep us busy.  There is never any time to just sit, read, mediate, truly relax and recuperate.  

3.  The constant barrage of noise from the outside world.  

We can access the news 24/7 from our phones, bombarding ourselves with negative news stories which again put our minds into fight or flight mood cranking up our cortisol hormones.  

We consider scrolling through social media as a form of relaxation but instead we are subtly being influenced into believing that we need to keep up with everyone else who is living their best lives, i.e. being extremely busy, rushing around consuming and showing off to everyone how successful we are.

The antidote to all this?


Reading provides escapism from the constant noise of our lives.  We can immerse ourselves in other worlds, experiencing our characters struggles and emotions.  As our brains become engaged in imagining other worlds, we can begin to relax from problem solving and the negative influences of our outside environment.  This stops the brain from signalling the flight or fight response to our body and slows down the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. 

My bedtime routine

So, my bedtime routine is very simple: 

  • I usually try to watch a bit of relaxing TV first – a drama or movie – never the news!  As I said above, the news just starts triggering the brain into the fight or flight negative mindset so avoid this before bedtime.
  • I eat my evening meal as early as possible and avoid eating anything for at least two hours prior to bed.  Our stomach’s take at least two hours to digest food.  You don’t want your stomach working away when you are trying to fall asleep.  However, do ensure you have eaten a proper meal prior to the two hour cut off so that you don’t go to bed hungry.  Again, you won’t get to sleep if your stomach is rumbling for food.
  • If you find getting to sleep consistently difficult, then try avoiding caffeine from around 2pm onwards.  I do sometimes have a coffee after my evening meal and really notice how it affects my sleep.  I don’t get into the deep, restorative sleep mode which enables us to wake up refreshed.  I end up waking up several times in the night, maybe dreaming more and feeling far more restless.  On waking I often experience mild feelings of anxiety, that feeling that something is going to go wrong when there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. 
  • Alcohol will have the same effects as caffeine so if you are going through a phase of lack of sleep, try cutting out alcohol completely.  We think that a glass of something will help relax us and help get us off to sleep.  Often we do fall asleep easier but the overall quality of our sleep becomes the same as if we have had caffeine.  This is because both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants. 
  • Finally, I do my bedtime ablutions and then settle into a clean, cozy bed and READ for at least half an hour.  As I mentioned previously this helps to settle my mind, disconnect it from my day and immerse it in another world.  

Are you a bedtime reader? Let me know in the comment below. 

Thanks to the following bloggers for allowing me to take part in the #Whatsonyourbookshelf challenge.  

Deb from Deb’s World

Jo from AndAnyways

Donna from Retirement Reflections

Sue from Women Living Well after 50

Please following the link here to check out the other book reviews in this challenge

The Maid – Nita Prose (fiction)

the maid nita prose

This was quite a quirky but heart warming read which was very enjoyable.

Molly Gray is a competent and reliable maid at the Regency Grand Hotel.  She works hard every day to ensure guests rooms are bought back to ‘perfection’.  She thrives on her daily routine and her value and worth as a maid at the hotel.

Then one day she discovers an infamous guest dead in his bed.  As the mystery begins to unravel around the guest and his life, Molly is drawn into trying to solve who murdered the guest and why.  

There are a few twists and turns around various characters in the book.  Molly herself is an unusual protagonist which breaks some of the usual stereotypes of a murder/mystery.  The story itself probably falls more into the genre of cosy mystery – it’s a fairly gentle pace with most of the action centred around the way the characters view their world. 

Overall an enjoyable read but in my view not a must read.  

The Chase – Candice Fox (fiction)

candace fox the chase

This book was a complete contrast to The Maid.

I’ve heard a lot about Candice Fox recently so thought I would give one of her novels a go.  A relatively young Australian author who has already had a prolific career.  She has co written several books with James Patterson, but don’t let that put you off if you aren’t a fan of his books. 

Fox is a fast paced, crime thriller author who digs deep into researching police procedure and criminal minds.  This makes her books very gritty and realistic.  

The story centres on the sudden release of 600 of the world’s most violent inmates of a high security prison into the Nevada Desert.   A bus travelling to the prison containing families of the prison wardens is hijacked and a ransom phone call is sent to the prison to release the inmates.  

When the inmates escape the biggest manhunt in US history begins.  But for one inmate, John Kradle, this is his chance to prove his innocence.  He just needs to stay one step ahead of the law enforcement officers who are tracking him down.

For Celine Osborne, the death row supervisor from the prison, the only inmate she is obsessed with catching is John Kradle because she has a very personal reason for hating him.   

I really enjoyed this book.  It hooks you in right from the start and whilst I would never want to be friends with any of the characters, you soon become invested in their stories and want to know what is going to happen to them.  Fox also paints really immersive settings of the Nevada Desert and it’s surrounds.  

I will definitely be trying out some more of her novels.  Fox herself is a bit of a ‘badass’ – prolific author, obsessive investigator of criminal minds whilst also a keen gardener and recently qualified as a wildlife rescue volunteer.  I’ve become a bit of a stalker following her exploits on instagram  here.

I’ve also booked to hear her talk about her latest book Fire with Fire, so I will give you an update about that in my next review. 

The Dying Diplomats Club  – Matthew Benns (fiction)

the dying diplomats club matthew benns

Benns is a new author for me.  I heard him narrate the first chapter of his book on this podcast here, which had me giggling and keen for more.

This is a classic whodunnit but with comedy thrown in.  If you like the Richard Osman books then I think you will enjoy this one.

Benn is a UK journalist who worked on national newspapers in London before emigrating to Australia.  During the pandemic he wrote a daily detective column featuring Nick and La Contessa who are the inspiration for this book.  

Detective Nick Moore and his elegant wife La Contessa receive a surprise, last minute invitation to a New Year’s party at the Australian Prime Minister’s House in Sydney.  Of course they have to take their trusty Beagle Baxter with them too!

The guest list includes several top diplomats, a casino billionaire, a dodgy bookie, a controversial doctor and a social influencer.   The drinks start to flow, before the PM makes a dramatic revelation which sets in motion a series of murders! 

The race is on for Nick and La Contessa, whilst enjoying copious martinis,  to solve the case before anyone else joins the dying diplomats’ club.

This was a very light, entertaining and amusing read.  I so want to be as elegant and refined as La Contessa!  There is also a bonus story in this book – ‘We’re all in this together’ (a coronavirus novel) which is the newspaper serial that started the adventures for Nick and La Contessa during the pandemic. 

And finally, I also have to confess to a small girl crush on Kate Morton – her instagram feed is beautiful – check it out here.  She also has a great website with lots of videos and pictures on the research and inspiration for her novels.  Her latest book Homecoming has just been released.  I have booked myself a ticket to see her at the forthcoming Brisbane Writers Festival.  I just need to get a copy of her book.  Hopefully I can report back on both next month. 


Well, that’s it for this month.  Drop me a comment below, and do let me know what you’ve been reading this month. I love hearing about good books! 

If you missed my last book review you can catch up here

Book reviews April 2023 and sleep

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