#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.

#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.

***

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

#Tuesdaybookblog A Year and a Day – Isabelle Broom #Bookreview #Romance

This is my first book review for a long time. I’m a bit out of practice, but here goes…

I won a paperback copy of A Year and a Day in a Rafflecopter giveaway run by Brizzlelass. I was instantly drawn to the idea of a book set in Prague as it’s a bucket list destination for me. After reading this, Prague has moved even higher up on my list!

But before I get to what I think, let’s start with the beautiful book cover and the blurb…

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Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere

For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she’s determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything – and she won’t let that happen again . . .

For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she’s struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it’s all her fault . . .

For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can’t stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .

Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.


My Review

This is an addictive read. The way each chapter alternates between the three viewpoint characters – Megan, Hope and Sophie, draws you in completely. I spent a few late nights unable to put it down.

The characters are all likeable and each story thread is compelling and believable. It’s great how each character has their own chapter, but are often with or bumping into the others characters once they all meet in Prague. Megan is the main character of the three, and Ollie (her friend / potential love interest) is definitely my favourite character. I connected with Megan the most perhaps because she is obsessed with photography (I also love taking photos), although I found her reasoning a little nuts and infuriating at times.

There are plenty of heart-warming moments in A Year and a Day, and plenty of times when it reduced me to tears.

Prague really comes alive; you can almost feel as if you are there in the freezing, magical city.

I did guess where much of the plot was going, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of the story, rather it’s good to be proved right.

In all, A Year and a Day is a brilliantly entertaining novel that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romantic fiction. I will be looking out for more books by Isabelle Broom and look forward to escaping into other parts of the world in her stories.

I rate it 4.5 stars (5 on amazon / goodreads).

 

#Tuesdaybookblog #Audio #bookreview The Widow by Fiona Barton #thriller

The Widow by Fiona Barton

Narrated by Clare Corbett

The Blurb

THE SUNDAY TIMES AND NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, AND RICHARD & JUDY BOOK CLUB PICK

‘If you liked GONE GIRL and THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, you might want to pick up THE WIDOW by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful’ Stephen King

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.

But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him?

Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

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My Review

Even though terrible subject matter is touched upon in this book, it was a very enjoyable read / listen. The story switches between the present day and back into the past when the little girl Bella is abducted. It’s easy to follow the storyline, and this technique helped to drag you into the story.

It’s soon clear the widow is an unreliable narrator. It’s hard to like most of the characters involved, however Sparks seems like a dedicated and likable detective as he risks his career trying to find the missing toddler.

The story moves along at a compelling pace and you have to pay attention to the little details that might turn up later. You’ll wonder if there are any big revelations or twists as the story unravels, but you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out what’s really going on.

I would recommend to thriller lovers.

4 stars

Audio extra – I loved the end of the audio book where the author, Fiona Barton and the narrator, Clare Corbett chat about writing and audio books. Brilliant added extra.

#bookreview Magic-scars: Crown of Stones – bk 2 by @cl_schneider #fantasy #tuesdaybookblog

This is the second book in the Crown of Stones trilogy.  I have been looking forward to reading this ever since devouring book one last year. I wasn’t disappointed!

As with book one, the cover is fantastic.

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Here’s the blurb from Amazon…

Magic doesn’t wound the same as a sword.

The story of Ian Troy continues in Magic-Scars, the second installment in C. L. Schneider’s riveting epic fantasy trilogy, The Crown of Stones.

Captured by his old enemy, King Draken of Langor, Shinree magic user Ian Troy was sentenced to prison. Tortured and drugged, robbed of his will, his memories, and his magic, Ian was made to do unspeakable things. Rescued, as his body slowly rids itself of the drug, Ian realizes he has returned to an unfamiliar world gripped with fear. In the wake of his fall, those he cared for were left to their own grim fates. Draken has seized control of the realms and named himself High King. His brutal rein has sparked a desperate rebellion that Ian now finds himself a part of. His one task: recover and repair the Crown of Stones, in hopes it will tip the balance in the revolution that is brewing. In pursuit of the reason behind the artifact’s strange loss of magic, Ian is driven to release an explosion of retribution and power that leaves him irrevocably scarred.

Struggling to reconcile the man he has become with the man he once was, Ian strives to understand the growing number of magic-scars adorning his body. He searches for the truth behind his link to the Crown of Stones and uncovers shocking secrets buried for generations beneath the sand. To become the weapon the resistance needs, he must assume responsibility for his magical inheritance. But can he curb the destructive appetite that comes with it?

The price of Ian’s magic and his addiction have never been higher.

 

My super short review.

I love these books. They are filled with nonstop action, murder, blood, sex and plenty of swearing. It’s all a part of the wonderful world C.L Schneider has created.

I loved the start and how the reader is as much in the dark as the main character as to how he woke up onboard a ship. Ian has no memory of who he is or who he can trust, and his instincts tell him something is very wrong with his predicament.

In this book we learn more of the history of the Shinree and Eldrings, of the magic that Ian Troy is trying to control and the creation of the Crown of Stone. There is so much depth to the world building, but you’re never bogged down with details. It’s a compelling read right from the start.

5 stars all the way.

I recommend to fantasy lovers who aren’t afraid of a bit of graphic detail.

I’m so happy book 3 is already sitting on my kindle waiting for me.

See my review of Book 1 – Magic-price here, which was my favourite fantasy read of 2016.

#Tuesdaybookblog The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman #bookreview

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Blurb

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers b THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark – from storytelling genius Neil Gaiman.

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond this world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defence is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

My Review

A guy from my book group recommended this. It’s the first Neil Gaiman I’ve read, so I had no idea what to expect.

I was instantly drawn into the story of a man revisiting his past and unlocking hidden/repressed memories. I love mysteries and this definitely has that element, I just had to keep reading to find out what happened all those years ago.

I did spend half the time wondering how reliable the 7-year-old narrator would turn out to be, and if I should take the story at face value or look for the deeper meaning behind the tale. Instead, my advice is to sit back and read this for what it is – a great fairy tale.

The writing is excellent. There’s a strangeness to the story and I was completely absorbed by it.

It’s a short novel, but I’d say it’s the perfect length.

I rate it 5 stars and recommend to those who enjoy modern fantasy and fairy tales.