My Top 10 reads of 2017 #greatreads #booklove #amreading

I’m surprised to say I beat my reading challenge target on Goodreads. I read 34 books throughout 2017, my target was 30. I read 33 in 2016, so I think I’ve found a good reading level for me, but I might aim a little higher in 2018. I plan to be more organised in my reading next year, finishing a few trilogies I’ve started etc. But I’ll post about that later. Right now, I’d like to share my Top 10 Reads of 2017…

My kids have recommended a few books this year, which have been really addictive. It’s hard to choose between them, so I’ve selected two…

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver.

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I love wolves, have done since I read Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. This book has emotion, excitement, adventure and friendship. It has been enjoyed by three generations of my family, so don’t let the fact its a children’s book put you off. I haven’t reviewed this book on my blog yet, but it is a 5 star read.

The Iron Trial By Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

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Again I haven’t reviewed this book yet, but it’s an amazing read and my first try of both these authors. I highly recommend this unputdownable 5 star book.

I tried a couple of historical fiction novels this year and I was so impressed with IREX by Carl Rackman, which I read when I was a reviewer on Rosie Amber’s book review team.

IREX by Carl Rackman

This book really draws you into the Victorian era and the mystery elements keeps you intrigued right to the end. I was sad this book had to end at all. Here’s my review.

I also tried Urban Fantasy for the first time and loved…

Eleonore by Faith Rivens

This was another 5 star read, here’s my review. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed changing my usual fantasy genre. I highly recommend this demon hunting, kick-ass heroine’s story.

Two of my stand out fantasy reads in 2017 were…

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

This was my book club choice and I loved it. Here’s the link to my original review. I loved this magical book and I’m jealous of Naomi Novik’s story telling skills.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab

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I was taken by surprise by this novel. I loved the characters and can’t wait to read the rest of this series in 2018. I plan to share my review of the series then. It was another 5 star read.

I have listened to a few audiobooks in 2017 and two that really stand out are;

Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek

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The premise of this book really drew me in and I couldn’t stop listening. I may not have been over the moon with the ending, but it was still a great book and a 5 star read. Here’s my review.

The Breakdown by B A Paris

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This book was another addictive listen, with plenty of twists and shocks. You feel as unsure of whom to trust as the main character, Cass, and I loved the ending. A must read, and I hope to share my review of it early in 2018.

I have read a few writing guides this year. Again it was hard to choose between them, but I’ve selected two favourites…

The Writer’s Lexicon by Kathy Steinemann

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This book is a great editing companion. I found it really helpful in helping me focus on over used and redundant words, with plenty of helpful word alternatives. Here’s my review.

Overwhelmed Writer’s Rescue by Colleen M Story

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A great book to help you re-evaluate your life and focus on what matters. There is so much in this book to help you find more time to write. Here’s my review.

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So looking back at my reading in 2017 I’m impressed that I managed to read so many books considering I’ve published my second novel, The Lost Sentinel, edited a third and wrote 40k of another during NaNoWriMo.

I don’t know what 2018 will hold, but I’m looking forward to immersing myself in more fantasy books and following more review blogs to build up my TBR shelf even more.

Happy New Year everyone!

 

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin @HollyMAuthor #bookreview #romance #Christmas #greatreads

During the week before Christmas I wanted to share one of my favourite Christmas reads this year. Christmas at Lilac Cottage has everything; love laughter and tears. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb…

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Snow is falling on White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .

Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.

That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.

With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

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My Review

Summary

I won a copy of this book in a blog competition (thanks Brizzlelass) and have been saving my review to post near to Christmas. I have to say this is the perfect Christmassy read to get you in the mood for the big day. It has everything you could ask for in a story; troubled romance, interfering family and friends, and emotional back story. There are also plenty of laugh out loud moments that had my husband looking at me strangely! I’m smiling to myself right now as I remember some of these scenes. The ending is heart warming and I shed a few tears in places.

Characters

I really liked Penny the main character, and Henry was a proper hero and gentleman. I loved the chemistry between them, though their stubbornness could be annoying at times. One thing I really liked were the characters unusual professions, Penny is an ice-carver and Henry is a carpenter. This added another dimension to the characters and added plenty to the plot.

Setting

White Cliff Bay comes off the page and seems so real. It’s the kind of place I’d love to visit. I love the fact that others stories have been set in the same town, so I know I can visit there again.

Likes

The writing flows so smoothly, that I found myself sucked straight into the characters lives. I immediately liked everyone in the story and wanted them to have their happy ever after.

Dislikes

I did struggle to get into this book at first, not for the writing which is excellent, but just something about it didn’t ring true. I think it was the fact Daisy didn’t act like a typical 16 year old, she was way too thoughtful and kind! I persevered through this minor annoyance and was soon swept away with the story.

Rating

It is hard to pick a rating for this story as by the end it was a 5 star, stay up all night read. But as I did struggle at the beginning, I’m going down the middle and saying it’s a 4.5 star read.

Check it out for yourself on Goodreads, and Amazon UK.

#tuesdaybookblog The Game Begins by Rebecca Howie @RebeccaH2016 #ya #mystery #bookreview

Today I’m reviewing a mystery book with a difference, it’s a YA featuring a budding young P.I. Sam Beckett.

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Blurb

It’s been four years since the car crash took away her father and Sam Beckett’s nightmares are back with a vengeance.

When her friend suggests she take a PI course to distract herself, Sam agrees, but she soon realises it won’t be as simple as she expected when her first case leads to a woman being killed, her husband accused of her murder, and a series of threatening text messages sent to her phone which lead Sam to believe that her father’s crash might not be the accident everyone thought it was.

My Review

I’ve always loved mysteries, even going back to my childhood when I couldn’t get enough of Scooby Doo. I’ve read countless novels and watched all the shows with their alcoholic, divorced or generally messed up detectives and P.I’s. For a long time I’ve been wanting something different. The Game Begins delivers an altogether different protagonist.

Sam is young (17 and still in school), and haunted by the accident that killed her dad. She suffered memory loss after the accident but she believes there is more to it than anyone else will admit. So she takes a P.I course, deciding to find out the answers for herself.

Her first case is something so mundane that you wonder if its worth her time. Then things start to spiral out of control.

Detective Marshall turns up on the scene and I really want Sam to trust him, but she soon feels she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Shocking events lead up to even more shocking revelations and towards the end you are rooting for Sam to get to the truth and get her life back together.

I really like Sam and Marshall, and I will certainly be reading the next book, A Woman Scorned, which is due to be released in December 2017.

My rating – I have been wavering between a 4 and 4.5 stars as I really feel this is a promising start to a new P.I. series.

There were a few typos and a couple of points in the story that I thought could have been more developed, but otherwise it was an entertaining read from a young, up and coming author.

FYI – Next month Rebecca Howie joins me for a guest post during book 2’s release.

You can check out her website for details.

The Game Begins is on Amazon UK and Amazon US and Goodreads.

Book Review: The Lost Sentinel

Today I’m sharing a well thought review of my book The Lost Sentinel by Kim on her blog The Writing Process. I’m really chuffed that she loves my visual descriptions, all those hours of editing have paid off!
Please take a look and let her know what you think.

The Writing Process

The Lost Sentinel
Silent Sea Chronicles – Book 1
Suzanne Rogerson
High Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

I received this book for free to assist with either a beta read or ARC review of book 2.
It was also on my WordPress TBR list.

 

Synopsis
Set on Kalaya, an island fuelled by a dying magic, the mystics of the mountains struggle through hardships as they search for their saviour: the lost sentinel.  Outside the mountains, magic is feared and despised, forcing people into exile.  Magic is blamed for their troubles and the ruling council of Kalaya, the Assembly, are all too eager to pass laws against it.

Follow Tei and her companions as they face multiple challenges in an attempt to overcome a dark evil and save the island magic, all while being hunted by those who wish them harm.

 

Characters
I felt like I had a good connection with…

View original post 531 more words

#Bookreview Twitter for authors @SchmidtJesper #tuesdaybookblog

Today I am reviewing Twitter for Authors. It was released at the beginning of November, though I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy from the author.

I’ve been using social media for just over two years and twitter is something that I’ve struggled to master. My twitter presence is close to 4.5k mark so it has grown in the two years I’ve been active on it, but I know I’m not using it to its full potential. I wasn’t sure how to use it as a selling tool or how I could make it work better for me, so I was eager to review ‘Twitter for Authors’ when Jesper Schimdt put out the call in his newsletter.

I was hoping this book would give me pointers on using twitter, but not only did he do that, Jesper Schmidt has made me rethink how I see twitter. I love the quote ‘Your twitter profile is an online business card for your authorship.’ He talks about creating an author brand across all social media platforms and made me think about the content on my twitter feed and the message I want to convey.

The book introduced me to some new software that can help build followers etc. At first I was put off by the idea of paying for software / monthly charges, but as you read on the benefits become clear. Everything is well explained and I really like the handy checklists at the end of each section. I’ve found lots in this book to help me and when I get some time (in between editing and drafting my next book) I’m hoping to put the advice in this book into action.

This is a recommended read for authors and I rate it 4 stars.

 

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Do you feel as if you’re wasting your time on Twitter? Not a single book sold, despite all your efforts?

Then Twitter for Authors is precisely what you need.

It will do exactly what the title says: save you time, get you followers and grow your email list.

The techniques taught in Twitter for Authors can all be executed in under 30 minutes a day, and will drive massive amounts of traffic to your books, blog and everywhere else where you have an online presence.

Throughout the chapters you will find free tutorial videos that show you exactly, with easy, step-by-step guides, how to put a system in place that will deliver upon all the promises made.

Why not put in 20% of the effort and gain 80% of the results?

Check it out on Amazon US and Amazon UK

#tuesdaybookblog The Writer’s Lexicon by @KathySteinemann #bookreview

The Writer’s Lexicon should be on every writer’s desk! Read on to find out why.

Blurb

You’re a writer. You just read your manuscript and discovered your characters nodding like marionettes in every chapter. When they’re not nodding, they’re rolling their eyes.

Oops.

Time to slash the Pinocchio strings and turn them into real live people. Award-winning author Kathy Steinemann will provide the tools. She cuts through the so-called rules and offers simple solutions.

Too many repetitions of “little”? There’s a cure for that. Do you rely on “very” too often? There’s a cure for that too. You’ll find the remedies in this book’s dispensary.

Should you ever use anything other than “said” to attribute dialogue? Are exclamation points taboo? The answers might surprise you.

Learn how to harness body language, cut hackneyed adjectives, and draw on the environment for ambience. No more wooden characters. You’ll transform them into believable personalities your readers will learn to love. Or hate.

Get in the driver’s seat, relax, and enjoy your journey—with Kathy Steinemann’s book as your GPS.

My Review

The author contacted me about reviewing her book and I’m so pleased she did. When I read the line ‘…characters nodding like marionettes in every chapter’, I knew this was a writing resource book I had to read.

It couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I’m in the process of fine-tuning the second book in my series Silent Sea Chronicles. I know I’m guilty of creating nodding, grinning character who laugh and cry far too much. There are plenty of other examples of words that you may not even realise you are overusing (that being one!), and a multitude of alternatives to try.

Kathy Steinemann uses imaginative examples of how not to write sentences, along with examples of how to improve your work. There are A-Z lists of alternative words, and story prompts throughout. The book gets you thinking about why you have chosen particular words, and she helps you think of ways a few well placed words can bring your story to life. There are also chapters on punctuation, how to include the senses in your writing, and a list of 400 redundant words.

I think it’s a brilliant book for every writer to have on their desk. Unfortunately, I’ve only read The Writer’s Lexicon on kindle (I highly recommend a paperback). I can imagine my paperback copy would have post-it notes stuck all over my favourite chapters. It has certainly got me thinking, and I will be using this as a guide to help me tighten the writing in my books.

5 well deserved stars.

Amazon UK  Amazon US  Goodreads

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#tuesdaybookblog Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek #audio #bookreview #thriller

Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek is an addictive read / listen that grips you right from the start. Before my brief review; here’s what the book is all about…

Blurb (Goodreads)

No witnesses, no evidence, no body: Star psychologist Viktor Larenz’s twelve-year-old daughter, Josy, who had suffered from an inexplicable illness, has vanished under mysterious circumstances during a visit to her doctor, and the investigation into her disappearance has brought no results. Four years later, Viktor remains a man shattered by this tragedy. He has retreated to a remote vacation cottage on a North Sea island, where a beautiful stranger named Anna Glass pays him a visit. She claims to be a novelist who suffers from an unusual form of schizophrenia: all the characters she creates for her books become real. While writing her most recent novel, Anna has been tortured by visions of a little girl with an unknown illness who has vanished without a trace, and she asks Dr. Larenz to treat her. Viktor reluctantly begins therapy sessions with the stranger, but very soon these sessions take a dramatic turn as the past is dragged back into the light. What really happened to Josy? Do Anna’s delusions describe Josy’s last days? And is Larenz a danger to himself and others?

Therapy is an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, an intelligent, fast and furious read that will stay with you for a long time after you have followed Viktor into the depths of his own psyche, and have figured out who Anna Glass really is.

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My Review

I was totally addicted to this book and found myself listening to it every spare minute I could find.

The premise of a daughter disappearing without trace and a schizophrenic novelist having the answers had me desperate to find out more. With this story you’re never sure what is reality and what is delusion, and it was all very cleverly handled.

I love stories that keep you guessing and I would love to see this one made into a film.

The only possible disappointment for me was the very end. But I’m not giving away any details, so you’ll have to read it and let me know if you were satisfied with the outcome.

This is my first read of a Sebastian Fitzek book and it was so good, I’m almost nervous about picking up another one.

Overall, I rate this book 4.5 stars (only deducted 1/2 for the over use of unnecessary description of characters towards the beginning of the book.)

Why don’t you check the book out on Goodreads and if you have read it, let me know what you thought in the comments.

#Tuesdaybookblog Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by @colleen_m_story #bookreview

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by Colleen Story. This is a Writer’s self-help book, but I think the time management strategies etc. would benefit anyone who struggles to cope with the demands of everyday life. Before I share me review, here’s the blurb…

Blurb

Find the time, energy, and confidence you need to make your creative dreams come true!

Do you feel like you’re always behind? Do less important tasks frequently flood your schedule and sink your creative motivation? Are you frustrated and out of touch with your inner artist?

After 20 years experience in the writing industry, author Colleen M. Story extends a lifeline to pull Find the time, energy, and confidence you need to make your creative dreams come true!

Do you feel like you’re always behind? Do less important tasks frequently flood your schedule and sink your creative motivation? Are you frustrated and out of touch with your inner artist?

After 20 years experience in the writing industry, author Colleen M. Story extends a lifeline to pull you out of the sinking swamp of “busyness” and back into the flourishing creative life you deserve.

Today’s demands on writers and other creative artists are overwhelming. Not only must you produce the work you love, but build and maintain a platform and market your finished products to the world–all while holding down a day job and/or caring for a family.

You teeter on the edge. What waits on the other side are burnout, exhaustion, and a complete loss of creative motivation.

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue provides practical, personalized solutions to help beginning and experienced writers and other creative artists escape the tyranny of the to-do list to nurture the genius within. You’ll find ways to boost productivity, improve time management, and restore your sanity while gaining insight into your unique creative nature and what it needs to thrive.

Ultimately, you’ll discover what may be holding you back from experiencing the true joy that a creative life can bring.

In this motivational and inspiring book, you’ll learn:

–Why you feel so rushed and how you can regain control of your time.
–Your unique “time personality” and how to use it to get more writing done.
–Practical steps to overcome distractions and focus faster.
–The 7 “productivity saboteurs” that plague creative artists and how to outsmart them.
–Your personal motivation style and how to use it to increase productivity.
–How to tap into your unconscious mind to find “writer solutions” when you need them.
–Why affirmations don’t work and how to instill true belief in yourself.
–Why it’s critical to your overall health and well being to nurture the creator within.

There’s no reason to feel overwhelmed one moment longer. No matter how crazy your life is, you can find more time for your creative work, and start feeling more like yourself again.

(Taken from Goodreads)

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My Review

I’ve struggled with finding time to write since I began my self-publishing and social media journey in 2015. When I heard about this book I hoped it would help me claim back some time to do the thing I love most, write.

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue has changed my mind-set towards time management and especially about prioritising. It’s clear you can’t change everything overnight, but this book gets you motivated to start making changes straight away. It is a book I know I will keep dipping into for advice in the weeks and months to come.

The book is written in four parts and at the end of each chapter there are Time Treasures – brilliant suggestions that help you gain back time. It is well researched, with short questionnaires to help you tailor the advice to your own personality and circumstances. This ensures you gain the most from the book.

This book has the unique blend of writing advice whilst focusing on your well-being, all thanks to Colleen’s expertise in the field of health writing.

There are so many little gems of advice thoroghout, but one of my favourites is;

‘…make the life you have now work for you, creatively.’

The chapter on Prioritising (chap 5) has been the biggest help to me in the short-term and is something I have been trying to work on every day with this in mind = KWIT Keep what’s important on top.

My daily to do list now has two sections – 3 most important tasks for the day, and then other jobs I want to try to fit in. By not expecting myself to do everything in one day, I’m no longer spending my whole life with the negative feeling of disappointment. Already I’ve found I have achieved much more.

Another really great chapter is Focus Faster (chap 7). Breaking projects down into 25 minute blocks, so you don’t lose concentration. I am guilty of spending hours at the computer without break, so this is something I really want to challenge myself to do.

Overwhelmed Writer Rescue is a brilliant, motivational self-help book that anyone can benefit from. I really, really enjoyed reading this and recommend it to everyone, not just writers.

5 STARS

FYI – I received a galley copy from the author.

Check out the book for yourself Overwhelmed Writer Rescue.

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In case you missed it yesterday, here’s the link to Colleen Story’s guest post all about researching books and how research for non-fiction and fiction may not be as different as you think.

#Bookreview The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts #historical #romance

A brief review of The Apothecary’s Daughter by Charlotte Betts – Historical Romance

Blurb

1665. Susannah Leyton has grown up behind the counter of her father’s apothecary shop in bustling Fleet Street. A skilled student – the resinous scents of lavender, rosemary, liquorice and turpentine run in her blood – her father has granted her the freedom to pursue her considerable talents. But Susannah is dealt a shocking blow when her widowed father marries again, and her new step-mother seems determined to remove her from the apothecary shop for good.

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My review

I bought this book on a whim because I like everything to do with herbs, plants and apothecary. I also have a character in a future book who will be opening her own Apothecary shop, so I was intrigued to find out about The Apothecary’s Daughter and how herb lore was dealt with in 1665 London.

The story is centred around plague ridden London and makes good use of events like the Great Fire of London. There are slavery issues, the great divide between men and women at that time, childbirth complications and so many wonderful little details that helped bring the past to life.

The book was well researched and interesting to read; the historical details were integral to the story and never felt like info dumps. The story flowed along beautifully and I was fully immersed in Susannah’s life. Although I would have enjoyed more focus on apothecary, the details that were included were fascinating.

I will definitely be reading more of Charlotte Betts work and highly recommend this to fans of historical fiction. The romance element is also important, so if you like romance this could also be a story for you.

4.5 stars