#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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“The Lost Sentinel” by Suzanne Rogerson #bookreview #fantasy

My second post for day four of The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour. A wonderful review from A line from a book. Please read and enjoy.

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Fantasy lovers need to be celebrating right now because “The Lost Sentinel” is being released this week! You do not want to miss this first in a new series from Suzanne Rogerson. The story takes place on the island of Kalaya where the magic that sustains life on the island is dying. Tei and her father are forced to flee their home in the night because Tei has a magical gift. The Assembly is cracking down on those with magic in an attempt to completely rid the island of magic. Tei must flee to the mountains of Turrak, the only place where those with magic can live in peace. When she arrives in Turrak, she quickly learns that she is the Confidante to the next Sentinel. The problem is no one knows who the next Sentinel is, and Tei is the only one who can find out. After her harrowing…

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#Film #Review The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins #thriller

I jumped at the chance of watching The Girl on the Train on my way to New York last week. Not only did I enjoy the audiobook of it last year (see my review here) but I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get excited about my arrival in NYC.

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Initially I was surprised to hear they were changing the location from London to New York, but in the end I don’t think the setting played much part in the film – it could have been set anywhere. This turned out to be a disappointment during my flight to NYC, but the film was entertaining enough to take my mind off all the turbulence we experienced.

As far as I can remember, the script stuck mostly to the book. The scenes jumped around quite a lot, as they do in the book, but for some reason it’s easier to follow in the book. Even for someone who knows the story, I did find myself getting confused a couple of times.  I think this maybe because some of the story threads were not fully shown in the film, which is understandable in an adaptation.

I think Emily Blunt is a talented actress and she played a drunken Rachel Watson very well. All the acting in the film was good, although I don’t recall the detective in the book being as annoying as the one in the film.

The worse thing for me were the sex scenes. Although not explicit, it was terribly embarrassing to watch whilst sitting next to a complete stranger on the plane. Mind you, he was watching the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which also has plenty of sex scenes to blush over.

As far as entertainment goes, I enjoyed this film a lot and I recommend to those who love a mystery thriller.

I rate it 3.5 stars – the audio book got 4 stars.

Have you read the book, or listened to the audiobook? What do you think is best, book or film?

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If anyone is interested, here’s my pictures of a snowy Central Park last week. I also hope to post some more pictures of my weekend in NYC tomorrow.

My favourite reads of 2016 #amreading #greatreads

I’ve read more in 2016 than I have in years thanks to taking up the Goodreads reading challenge and joining Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Here are some of the books that have stayed with me long after I finished reading them.

Favourite Children’s book – Fire Bed and Bone by Henrietta Bradford

My review & My Family Review

Featured Image -- 3569  I loved this book and shared it with my family. It was an interesting experiment to get the different opinions from a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old and my husband (whose age I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to mention!).

Favourite YA book – The Sapphire Legend by E.L. Tenenbaum

My Review

26248087 This fantasy book took me by surprise and I have been longing to read the sequel. I definitely will in 2017.

Favourite Indie and fantasy – The Crown of Stones by C.L. Schneider

My Review

20319844 I was drawn to the cover of this book from the start and the book didn’t disappoint. A great fantasy, and another trilogy I hope to finish in 2017.

Favourite Thriller – Distress Signals by Catherin Ryan Howard

My review

distress signals cover image This book led to some very late nights! A compelling thriller and I bet you won’t see the twist coming!

Favourite Romance – Late Summer in the Vineyards by Jo Thomas

My Review

51qenardljl I loved this book for the atmosphere and the wonderful feel good factor it had.

Favourite Audio book – Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

My Review

51fbBPM9h9L._SY346_  This was a thriller I just couldn’t stop listening to. It had that all important mystery element, and like the main character I didn’t know who to trust. It reminded me of ‘Before I go to Sleep’. Both truly great reads.

In all I read 33 books during 2016. Now I can’t wait to see what books 2017 has in store.

Have you read any of these books, and if not have I inspired you to add them to your TBR lists?

 

#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview Getting Book Reviews by @RayneHall #indieauthors

Getting Book Reviews by Rayne Hall

Part of the Writer’s Craft Series

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Blurb

Reviews help sell books.
When browsing online for their next read, most readers are drawn to the books with many reviews. More and more readers glance at what other readers have to say about a book before they hit the ‘buy now’ button. The more people have read and liked the book, the more they want to experience it for themselves. This is a known psychological factor called ‘social evidence’, and it plays a big role in purchasing decisions.
The more reviews your book has, the better, especially if they are genuine, personal, thoughtful and positive. Reviews can multiply your sales and catapult your book to the top of bestseller lists – but how do you get them?
Perhaps you’re a new author and can’t get those crucial early reviews to start the train rolling. Maybe you’re a seasoned author and your books have garnered reviews, but not as many as you need to break out. Or perhaps you’ve gone the corporate publishing route, and find that your publisher’s publicist isn’t getting your book the attention it needs.
This book shows you many proven strategies to get the reviews your book deserves. Instead of urging you to labour through tedious, spirit-draining procedures, I’ll reveal quick, fun, empowering tricks.
All my suggestions are legitimate and ethical. In this book you won’t find methods for manipulating, faking and cheating. Strengthen your readers’ bond with you, don’t sabotage it.
Most of the methods I suggest are free, although some incur expenses. You will definitely need to spend time. You can apply them all these techniques, or cherry-pick the ones you like now and keep the rest for another time or a different book.
At the end of most chapters, I’m sharing mistakes I made and learnt from. They all seemed a good idea at the time.
Rayne

My Review

First thoughts

Since I self-published for the first time in 2015, I’ve been trying to increase my book’s profile on Amazon by getting more reviews. This book sounded perfect to help me do that.

Summary

Each chapter in the book covers your options when trying to gain reviews. They state the method, along with pros and cons for each and lessons learnt by the author. There were chapters on things like beta readers, approaching amazon reviewers, review circles and general product review agencies.

Writing Style

The book has a friendly, easy to read style just as the previous book of Rayne Hall’s I read and reviewed recently. Why does my book not sell? 20 Simple Fixes

Issues

My only real issue was that I’d already learnt alot of this by myself the long and hard way! It would’ve been great to have a manual like this to work through, to save time and effort.

Final thoughts

I have stumbled my way throughout the process of self-publishing and the same can be said for the way I’ve tried to get reviews. I have made connections with some brilliant book bloggers and gained some wonderful reviews, but I wish I’d known about this book long before I hit publish; things like putting a personal letter at the back of the book would have been easier if addressed beforehand.

This is a quick read, and one you can go back to again and again for sound advice.

Recommend to

I think this book is most helpful to authors who are soon to publish. Of course if you have already self-published, there are still plenty of helpful tips in here for you.

Rating  4 stars

#WWWblogs – My 2nd KDP Select update on Ads, Giveaways & a review request #indie

I had some great responses to my post a few weeks ago about my experience 1 month into Kindle Select. See original post here. There were many people who were struggling with it like me, and others who had advice to make the experience work better for you.

Here’s a quick update of my findings:

  • Stick with KDP Select – Most people believe KDP is the best place to sell your indie books as Kindle is the highest retailer of ebooks.
  • You still have to do ALL the marketing yourself – I had been naïve enough to think that once you went with Select, they would promote your book to all their unlimited subscribers.
  • Reviews – Once you hit a certain amount of reviews, Amazon does start to help you with promotion. This is one I’ll be looking out for with interest once I hit that magical number, whatever it is!
  • Countdown Deals – You can run them in the UK & US at the same time, but not if you put in different starts dates as I did. You NEED to promote Countdown deals yourself. Pay to advertise your sale on the many different book ad sites out there. I haven’t used any paid ad sites myself, but will be looking into this option. Any one have any recommendations?
  • 5 Free book days per enrolment period – Best to do when you have more than one book published. Others have reported success with lots of downloads on their free days, and if it can help get those sought after reviews, all the better. I may hold off setting up my free days until my next book comes out though. Don’t forget to advertise.
  • Free Copies to reviewers – This one was a real issue for me, but I have since heard back from Amazon who stated a free copy of a physical product is permitted if the author states they welcome positive and negative feedback, and the reviewer states a free copy was received in exchange for an honest review.
  • Other ad options – There are other marketing options to try with KDP Select – I’ve set up several ad campaigns.

Sponsored products – You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, which is shown on the Amazon website when your selected key words are searched for. I’ve had this running a while and according to them I’ve had over 3k impressions but only 3 clicks. So far this hasn’t resulted in sales, but maybe the people who have seen the book cover a few times will get intrigued enough to click on it and find out more.

Product Display – This is where your book will appear on people’s kindles and Amazon.com when they search certain genres. I held off with this as you have to set a minimum budget of $100, but they only start billing you when people start clicking on your ad. Mine only went live today so I don’t know if it will help with sales.

And finally the big news, I’ve just set up my first ever Amazon.com Giveaway. Anyone in the US can enter for a chance to win my paperback. I’ve set it that they have to follow me on Amazon.com so we’ll see if anyone is interested and if this will help me get more coverage in the US.

If you’re in the US and want a chance to win a paperback copy, please check out the link here.

A note of caution for those wanting to set up an amazon giveaway – as per the set up rules the details cannot be changed once submitted. I misunderstood what the Welcome message was, I assumed it was once someone had clicked to enter. But it appears with the ad so would be much better suited as the blurb or tag line of the book. Now I have to plug my giveaway, the whole time feeling like a fool for getting something else wrong. (This indie author learning curve is a steep one, and never seems to end!)

UPDATED 4.40pm 20th Sept 16. I don’t understand the Amazon giveaway. It closed after less than an hour and a winner has been picked after only 57 entrants. I set it up to be 1 winner in 100. The upside is now I can redo it without my mistake on the Welcome message, not allow everyone to share the giveaway, set it up to have a higher amount of entrants. The downside is, I have to pay for another giveaway already, I thought this one would last a week! 

Now over to you – Have I inspired you to try Kindle Select, or put you off trying it altogether? Have you any findings to share or tips on improving sales whether through KDP Select or other means? Maybe you’ve made some mistakes you’d like to share. I’d love to hear your views.

***

Finally my cheeky request.

I’m looking to reach that magic number of reviews on Amazon, I’ve read that it could be 20. I have 14 great reviews so far, and I’m really hoping to reach 20 reviews by the end of the year. I’ve been researching book reviewers and will be contacting some over the next few days, but I thought I’d also put the request out to you guys. If any of you are book reviewers and are interested in reading Visions of Zarua, please get in touch in the comments or via my ‘contact me’ page.

I’m also willing to take part in Q&A sessions and author interviews if anyone would like to feature an indie author on their blog.

I’ll leave you with the Amazon link here if you want to find out what the book is all about. Obviously its free if you’re a Kindle Unlimited customer (Amazon suggested I tell reviewers that!).

Thanks for reading.

#Audiobook #bookreview – Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge #thriller

Look Behind You – Sibel Hodge

Narrated by – Susan Duerden

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Blurb

Chloe Benson wakes up kidnapped and bound in an underground tomb with no memory of how she got there.

She manages to escape but no one believes her story—not the police, not the doctors, and especially not her husband, Liam.

When she suspects Liam is lying to her, Chloe is forced to retrace her past, following in her own footsteps to find the truth and stay alive. But who is following Chloe?

Look behind you. You never know who’s out there.

***

My Audio Review

I really loved this book. It reminded me of Before I go to sleep by S J Watson, which I also loved. Chloe is in a similar situation, she can’t remember the last 7 weeks of her life and doesn’t know who to trust or what to believe.

The story gripped me and I couldn’t stop listening. I loved the mystery surrounding the memory loss and how Chloe had to retrace her steps leading up to what happened.

The only problem I found was the narrator. In the beginning I found her style too much. It was all very desperate sounding, but it did fit the situation perfectly. I would be desperate if I woke, tied up in a pitch black room with no memory! Her male voices all sounded samey, but I got used to that and it didn’t detract from the story.

There was one issue that bugged me from the start. Chloe was tied up and broke free, there would surely have been rope marks around her wrists and ankles to prove her story, but everyone insisted on thinking she made it up.

Overall, I loved it and give it 5 stars.

#Audiobook #bookreview – No Longer Safe by A. J. Haines #thriller

No Longer Safe by A.J.Haines

Narrated by Emma Powell

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Blurb

She was your best friend. Now she’s your deadliest enemy – and there’s nowhere to run…

When Alice receives an invitation from Karen, her charismatic University friend, to stay in a remote cottage in Scotland, she can’t wait to rekindle their lost friendship. But two more former students arrive – never friends of Alice’s – and as the atmosphere chills, Karen isn’t the warm-hearted soulmate Alice remembers. Barely is the reunion underway before someone is dead and the fragile gathering is pushed to breaking point.

As the snow cuts them off from civilisation and accusations fly, Alice finds herself a pawn, sinking deeper into a deadly game she can’t escape.

NO LONGER SAFE is a chilling Psychological Thriller that delivers a delicious sting in the

My review

The book moves along at a slow pace, but I wasn’t bored at any point. The backstory is slowly revealed and as you get to know the four reunited friends, you start to understand that no one is quite as they seem. The story becomes more dramatic and events drag Alice along a path that she will have trouble coming back from.

Your suspicions are raised more during the short chapters from Karen’s perspective.  You’re left in no doubt that Alice is being deceived. But it takes a good part of the book to understand just what Karen has planned.

Did I guess the ending? Definitely not. What a shocker!

I’ve already pre-ordered the authors next book which is due out in October.

A recommended read for those who enjoy thrillers at a slightly slower pace, but it still has a dramatic end.

4 star read / listen!

#Audiobook #bookreview – Try not to breathe by Holly Seddon #thriller #suspense

Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon

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Blurb

Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.

Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.

Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…

My review

I really enjoyed this thriller of a book. The format reminded me very much of Girl on a Train, which I have also recently listened to. Each chapter switches between Alex, Jacob/Jake and Amy’s view-point. There are occasional chapters from other VP’s (Jacob’s mum) but it’s these three that are the main focus.

I quickly became sucked in by the story and found myself snatching every moment I could to listen to another chapter. I found the characters believable and really wanted Alex to get justice for Amy.

The narration was great.

This book lives up to the hype around it and left me guessing (wrongly) at Amy’s attacker most of the way through. I certainly wasn’t expecting the big reveal at the end, and I’m usually good at working out the clues before that point.

I recommend Try not to Breathe to those who enjoy a great thriller / suspense novel. I can’t wait to read more of Holly Seddon’s work.

My rating 4 stars.

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#Bookreview – The Wedding Proposal Sue Moorcroft #Romance

The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft.

Genre: Romance

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Blurb

Elle Jamieson is a private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But then she’s made redundant and with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to sunny Malta.

Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less in return. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal scared Elle away. But then a phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s closely guarded past when it finally comes to light?

My Review – in brief

I was first attracted to this book because of the location. I’m very interested in Malta and have just returned from a holiday there – my first trip abroad in over 15 years. I originally read this book hoping it would help me get excited about the country as I was very nervous about flying.

I’m happy to say that not only did this book do the country and friendly people justice, it really gave a feel for the island and the culture as well as the heat. There were lots of little details that added to the reading experience and brought Malta alive for me.

The characters were believable and the conflict between them was plausible. I really enjoyed this story and will definitely read more of Sue Moorcroft’s work.

I recommend to those who enjoy romance with a touch of steaminess, and that’s not just the Maltese temperature!

4 out of 5 stars.