#Bookreview Joe Abercrombie – Shattered Sea Trilogy #YA #Fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Joe Abercrombie

Title: Shattered Sea trilogy

Genre: YA Fantasy

Note: It is hard for me to review this trilogy without spoilers. I cannot make all the points I want to, so please forgive the vague nature of this review.

Blurb Book 1: Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain his throne. First he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it with only his good hand.

First Impressions: First of all, I love the book covers. Stunning, aren’t they.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Joe Abercrombie’s YA trilogy as his adult books are quite dark. I wasn’t disappointed, rather I fell for Half a King and couldn’t put it down. The minute I finished reading it, I ordered the next book.

Each book has different viewpoint characters

Book 1 – Yarvi

Book 2 – Brand & Thorn

Book 3 – Skara, Raith & Koll

I enjoyed all the viewpoints and felt for each character in their own respective stories. However, switching the viewpoints gave you distance from the characters you previously liked and rooted for, so it was hard to adapt to each book in that sense.

Loved: The enthralling pace and the intrigue running through each book.

Annoyed by: The constant reference to ‘deep cunning’ and a bit too much gritty talk of farting and snot. I did not like the plot direction in the last book and felt let down by it.

Final thoughts: I loved this as a Viking Trilogy, why did it have to become something else?

For me the end was unsatisfying. There was a great battle, which changed everything, but after that it all seemed too rushed and underwhelming. There is a lot I would like to say here, but don’t want to spoil the read for you.

I still think the Shattered Sea is a brilliant trilogy and really enjoyed reading it.

Recommend: To anyone who reads YA fantasy and fantasy in general.

Star Rating:

Book 1 – Half a King 5 star

Book 2 – Half a World 5 Stars

Book 3 – Half a War 4 stars

Overall trilogy rating 4 stars. I really wanted to give it a 5, but the ending just didn’t satisfy me.

Have you read the trilogy, what did you think?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Single flower or bud – Echinacea #photo

This is my first time of joining in Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. When I saw the single flower challenge I thought of this little gem. It is an Echinacea – Cone Flower, taken at the wonderful Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, UK.

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Visions of Zarua – 6 months since publication day #WWWblogs #Indie

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since I self published my first novel, Visions of Zarua. Here’s my summary of the good and bad of self publishing.


The ebook went live 16th November 2015 and the paperback went live 14th December 2015.

I had pre-orders in place for the ebook so sales were very good on the first day, and a few days after as well.

First thoughts:

I was terrified, excited and nervous, but looking back I was also completely naïve thinking life would change for me overnight. I wasn’t expecting an instant hit, but I did think things would move faster than they have.

My favourite things about publishing:

1.Sharing my book with the world. 2. Calling myself a published author. 3. Seeing the reviews from people who have taken a chance and bought my book, and also from those reviewers I’ve contacted directly. 4. I still adore my book cover and love looking at the poster I have above my desk.

2015-11-13 14.31.10

I’ve had some wonderful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads – I wish I could share each review here, but will have to satisfy myself with sharing a few of my favourite quotes instead.

‘It’s so lovely to read a book that is a stand alone completed tapestry… I definitely recommend you give this book a try as it’s a real all in-one fantastical adventure story.’

‘Wonderful fantasy meets mystery!’

‘Dark sorcery with slithering secrets… Visions of Zarua casts a shadow of excitement giving the fantasy genre a nice little jolt.’

‘Thrilling and dark fantasy novel… from the very first chapter I was hooked. Overall I just love this book… I can’t wait to read more of the author’s work’

‘Enjoyable read with a hint of classic “who dunnit”…’

‘A brilliant read… would recommend to anyone who likes murder, mystery and of course fantasy’

‘The perfect amount of epicness… one of those fantasy books that can please any reader’

‘If you want a great book that takes you away from the monotony of daily life, then this is the book for you’

‘Gripping, well written story…the intertwined stories kept me gripped until the end. I recommend, even if you’re not a fantasy fan!’

‘…putting this book down, because of the non-reader-friendly-world I live in, made me unhappy. Mrs Rogerson deserves standing ovation for her debut novel… I will applaud with pride and appreciation. Visions of Zarua was simply a story that I love.’

I’m very happy with these stats so far – 5 x 5 star and 4 x 4 star reviews on Amazon. 5 reviews and 7 ratings on Goodreads.

Least favourite part of self publishing:

Trying to get noticed when you have a non existent marketing budget and very little clue on what works best.

Methods of advertising I’ve tried:

Discounted ebook price – I tried this twice. Over Christmas the reduced price resulted in a handful of sales and the second one just before Easter resulted in a couple of sales.

Goodreads Giveaways – Good and bad. Visions of Zarua is on over 800 bookshelves because of the giveaways. The worldwide giveaway was much more successful than UK only, attracting 2062 people. However the postage costs involved are high and I haven’t sold any books because of the giveaway as far as I can tell.

Facebook Ad – I received a handful of new followers on FB, but no book sales.

Mslexia magazine Ad – No sales.

Goodreads Ad pay per click – Paid $10 which is used up as people click the ad. So far my ad has supposedly been seen by over 4K people but no clicks and no sales.

Anyone have any suggestions for other places to advertise?

Unexpected benefits of self publishing:

I started a blog to have an online presence, but I’ve found I really love blogging. I’ve met lots of interesting people through blogging and because of it I’ve also become a reviewer via Rosie’s Ambers book review team. I’ve been able to share my photos and rediscovered my love of photography. I’ve also shared recipes and places I love through the #AtoZ blog challenge and #WordlessWedneday photos.

Final thoughts:

It’s a lot of work for very little gain and the hard work doesn’t stop at publication. I haven’t had a pay cheque yet, though I still need to declare myself as self employed.

Knowing all this, I would still do it again. It’s a wonderful feeling to publish your own book and even better when a review tells you someone enjoyed it. There aren’t many better feelings to be had, although a million pound publishing deal wouldn’t go amiss.


I’m running a one day book blitz via Brook Cottages on Saturday 4th June with a Rafflecopter giveaway. Please join in and share if you get the chance.

Call for help:

If you have read Visions of Zarua, would you consider leaving a review on Amazon, goodreads, smashwords or any books sites that you normally use. It really helps my credibility as an indie author and helps others decide to buy my book. I also love to read your feedback.

If you are inspired by these wonderful reviews to pick up a copy of Visions of Zarua, here are some purchase links:

Amazon UK  Amazon US  Kobo Smashwords


VOZ print book 3d image flat

Now if I ever hope to publish my next book, I have to finish writing the damn thing. Please leave any comments and suggestions you might have and I’ll get back to you.

#BookReview Gertrude Jekyll Dreams – Helen Thomas #Poetry

Title: Gertrude Jekyll Dreams

Author: Helen Thomas

Self published 2014.

Length: This is a short book of poetry, 32 pages with 27 poems.

Blurb: Gertrude Jekyll Dreams is the first full collection of poems by Helen Thomas. These personal, funny and moving poems are based on her 48 years of life, love, inspiration, flowers, travels, family and memory.


First Impressions: This was a step outside of my comfort zone as I don’t usually read poetry. Some of poems maybe too personal to the author for me to understand, some were hard to pinpoint, but others really resonated with me, and I wanted to read them again straight away and enjoy them a second time. I particularly liked My Parent’s Garden and Further Adventures In Art And Being.

Style: This is a neat little book, which is lovely to hold and read. The poems are set out one per page. There was space inside the author could have provided a little more details of herself (though there is a bio on the back cover.) She is an artist and I would have liked to have known more about her and if she drew the cover art and what the significance of it was.

Summary: Poems range from abstract, enjoyable to touching.  It can be devoured in one sitting, or read at a slower pace. You find you want to go back and revisit those poems that touched you.

Recommend to: This would make a lovely gift for someone who enjoys poetry.

Rating: I don’t feel at all qualified to rate this book, I don’t even know the names of the different forms of poetry.  However, I feel this is a good collection of poems that people can enjoy, and everyone should find something that resonates with them personally.

Check out the book on Amazon UK

Guest Post – Catherine Ryan Howard #DistressSignals

I am very pleased to have Catherine Ryan Howard on my blog today as she celebrates the release of her debut thriller ‘Distress Signals’. Over to you Catherine;


Why Didn’t I Self-Publish Distress Signals?

Catherine Ryan Howard

My debut thriller, Distress Signals, was published on May 5 by Corvus/Atlantic, the first in a two-book deal. (The second will be out this time next year.) If you search for my name on Amazon, you’ll find more results than that for my name, because starting in 2010, I self-published. I started with Mousetrapped, the story of the year and a bit I spent living in Orlando, Florida and working in Walt Disney World. I followed it up with Backpacked, the story of what I did after that, i.e. went backpacking around Central America for a couple of months. Finally – since the self-publishing of the first two went well – came the obligatory ‘how to’, Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

So I have an established platform, I know how to self-publish and it’s gone well for me in the past. So why didn’t I self-publish Distress Signals too.

1. My goal was always to get published

My goal, since I was a child, was to get a novel published. I wrote Mousetrapped, initially, because I felt woefully underprepared for my move to Orlando and thought that the other people who went out there on the same programme I did might benefit from the book. I self-published it because no one was interested in doing the publishing bit for me. Non-fiction felt a low-stakes game for me – it wasn’t the only thing I’d ever wanted to do with my life, so there was significantly less pressure. I wasn’t crippled with fear and anxiety over every last decision. I could have fun with it, because failure wouldn’t be devastating.

I feel totally different about fiction, which is why I wanted an agent to represent it and me and then, hopefully, a publisher to get involved. If Distress Signals had been rejected all over town, my thoughts might have turned to self-publishing it too. But we didn’t get that far.

2. My dream needs a traditional publisher

I’ve held this dream for the best part of three decades and it looks a certain way: a champagne welcome to a publishing house, a beautiful printed book, that book on shelves in bookstores all over the country, interviews and features in newspapers and magazines, a launch party where someone else is footing the bill for the wine. (And all the other bills too…!) Five years or so ago when e-books had an explosive surge in popularity, this dream didn’t suddenly change. I didn’t suddenly decide, after about twenty-five years of wanting a very specific thing, that hey, this other thing will ‘do’ instead. My dream remained the same. And I needed a traditional publisher in order to achieve it.

I understand that if you go to the Kindle store to download your next read, it’s hard to tell if it’s been traditionally or self-published, and it doesn’t seem to matter. But for me, that’s looking at the process very selectively, through an incredibly narrow lens. Over the last year or more, my publisher has done countless things for me that I just could not achieve by myself or, at the very least, wouldn’t have the money, experience or contacts to make happen. Getting e-books on Amazon are just one small part of the publishing process. There’s so much more to it than that, and it’s a ‘more’ I can’t make happen for myself.

3. Team Distress Signals

I loved the challenge of self-publishing and I’m so proud of what I achieved with it, especially because I made it happen by myself. But it can be a lonely road. The buck stops with you. All mistakes are your own.

Right now I have a whole team of people working with me – my agent, my editor, publicists in Ireland and the UK – while numerous other people (designers, sales agents, digital managers) do more heavy lifting behind the scenes. We all have the same goal: to make Distress Signals the best book it can be, and to make its publication as successful as possible. Each person brings years of experience, unique insight and boundless enthusiasm to the table. Because I was paid an advance, these people have invested in me. They’ve taken a risk on me. Now, we’re all working together to make sure that risk pays off.

Yes, control has to be relinquished. Yes, there are frustrating days, or confusing decisions. But so far, I think it’s more than worth it.

* * *

Ultimately, I didn’t self-publish Distress Signals because I didn’t want to and I didn’t have to. That doesn’t mean I’m done with self-publishing though. In fact, I’m certain I’ll return to it again at some point in the future, because I want this to be my career and a career has highs and lows, feasts and famines. Also, traditional publishing runs on contracts, and contracts expire. I have this deal now, yes, but no one knows what’s going to happen in the future.

Even if things go swimmingly, I still think self-publishing should have a place in every author’s master plan. But for now, I’m seeing what the view is like from the other side.

distress signals cover image


Standalone crime/thriller

Published May 5 by Corvus/Atlantic in Ireland and the UK, June 2 in Australia and New Zealand. Details of North American publication later in 2016 coming soon.

Did she leave, or was she taken?

The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her.

Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…

Advance praise:

“Pacey, suspenseful and intriguing … [A] top class, page turning read. Catherine Ryan Howard is an astonishing new voice in thriller writing.” — Liz Nugent, author of 2014 IBA Crime Novel of the Year Unravelling Oliver

“An exhilarating debut thriller from a hugely talented author. Distress Signals is fast-paced, twisty and an absolute joy to read.” — Mark Edwards, #1 bestselling author of The Magpies and Follow You Home

Read a preview of the first three chapters here:


Amazon.co.uk link:



Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1982. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a campsite courier in France and a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.

Catherine Ryan Howard by City Headshots Dublin

Catherine Ryan Howard by City Headshots Dublin



Twitter: @cathryanhoward

Instagram: @cathryanhoward

Facebook: facebook.com/catherineryanhoward

#AtoZchallenge 2016 results – reflection post

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

I’ve only been blogging since August 2015 so this is my first attempt at the #AtoZchallenge. I was interested to see how blogging everyday except Sunday’s has impacted my blog. Here are some of the April stats and March in brackets to compare.

New Followers = 60 (in March 15)

April views = 1458 ( in March 336)

April visitors = 479 (in March 151)

Visitors from = 38 countries (in March 14 countries)

Likes = 748 (in March 184)

Post most viewed = A Amber’s method: Top 5 writing tips 70 views (in March Book Review of Girl in the Ice, Plus Visions of Zarua giveaway and sites that review = 17 views each)

Posts published = April 32 (in March 21)

My most viewed and liked posts were writing related – Amber’s Method, Proof reading checklist, Beta readers and Hampton Court and Warwick Castle.

(Here’s the link to my A-Z challenge page. There are links to each letter if you missed any.)

My view on the AtoZchallenge

Pros – It’s a real confidence boost receiving such nice comments and likes. I made new blogging friends and got to share my favourite photos, recipes and my flash fiction story.

Cons – No time to write. It was hard to keep track of all the blogs I wanted to. My family were driven crazy by the daily obsession.

Final word – I joined in the challenge to show myself I could blog everyday. I also wanted to get more involved in the blogging community and find like minded people to follow.

Would I recommend the A-Z Challenge?  – Yes, it’s a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers and build your own platform. However, be warned that you won’t get much else done during April. Be prepared for that so you won’t spend the whole month feeling guilty.


Thanks to everyone who followed my April Challenge, I hope you continue to enjoy my posts in the future.

I am taking a rest from blogging as my WIP needs finishing if I hope to publish it this year. I’ll still be posting book reviews, photos and the occasional guest posts. I hope you can join me.