As you know I usually tend to write about…well, writing, on Tuesdays’ posts. I had an ‘interesting’ week last week (I got stranded in Charles de Gaulle airport due to the snow and ended up spending most of two days there. I didn’t sleep there thanks to my friend Iman and her family, and the RER [train line], but otherwise…). The change of plans gave me time to finish reading some books I had pending and I’ve done a number of reviews. I thought I’d post them here too, all together, for your enjoyment. I’ve also included the translation of the review of a book in Spanish ‘La llave del éxito’. They are all five star reviews, but very different books. I’ve also included links and hope you feel interested enough to have a look at them. And on Friday I have a guest author: Nicole Fergusson…Really looking forward to her post.

Don’t forget to click!

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Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent

‘Be Scared, Be Very Scared’

Don’t let the title of my review put you off. No, Nic Taylor’s A Plague of Dissent is not a horror book (although I love horror books). At least not a horror genre book. What the title refers to is the slow realisation – whilst reading the novel – that it is not only topical and the socio/historical events described very close to the bone, but the fictional elements are more than plausible. Although one might have a different opinion as to some of the premises (who organises the terrorist attacks and their reasons, for example), the actual details and planning of it sound incredibly convincing and the more horrifying for it.

The author is well versed in British current affairs and he uses them to create a multilayered background to his fictional (? we hope) story. Recent big news items (phone hacking scandal and enquiry, riots, allegations of child pornography, coalition government…) are not only part of the setting of the novel but become an integral part of the plot, and they are seamlessly woven together to create a complex and realistic tapestry. I live in the UK and must say some of the incidents and situations made me chuckle.

The novel is extremely well plotted and even minor incidents that at first sight might appear insignificant are eventually relevant and their significance revealed. A woman accidentally ran over by a car, a man caught up in the riots and injured, a rugby training session…everything falls into place like a well-oiled machine.

We get to know the main characters gradually, and they reveal themselves to be not only likeable, but also true heroes. Adam is a fantastic protagonist, who goes from being maligned by the media; in an attempt at revenge by a jealous husband, to risking his life to save…well, everybody. His brother, Dan, Ron, his friend and special agent, Isobel, his love interest, the few honest detectives and policemen, are all real people you can relate to but make a larger than life cast who can take on any situation. You would want them by your side in a moment of crisis.

‘A Plague’ is cinematic in its style, moving with ease from sweeping takes that quickly provide a general view of the national and international situation and the consequences of the events narrated, to minute takes of details such as weaponry, computer files and medication. The pace accelerates and you become gripped by the events, at once thrilled and worried as to what would happen if it were real. Would there be enough honest members of the police, and concerned citizens (like Adam and friends) to halt such a terrorist ploy?

I don’t want to give away too many of the details of the novel as not to spoil the many surprises, but I won’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who enjoys well plotted thrillers, conspiracy theory based stories, current affairs (not only British but international), spy novels…In summary, anybody who loves a good book. I was pleased to read that Nic Taylor is planning to follow ‘A Plague’ with at least two more novels. I for one can’t wait.

Here is the link to the book in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/A-Plague-Of-Dissent-ebook/dp/B00BRI7YMQ/

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A Year of Book Marketing Part 1. Marketing Your Book One Day At A Time by Heather Hart.

I was familiar with Mrs. Hart’s work from some of the publications she has co-authored like ‘Book Marketing 101: Marketing Your Book on a Shoestring’ and the writers’ group of same name in LinkedIn. I asked for a copy of her book when I read her reply to another author who was after novel ways of marketing his book, and a bit tired of ‘same-old, same-old’. She kindly offered me a free copy in exchange for a review and I’m pleased to be able to respond in kind.

The idea behind the book is that it can be used (after reading the first three chapters that contain general advice on marketing, particularly useful to the novice writer) as a daily prompt/calendar, that instead of only having quotations for the day, contains an idea or marketing prompt for each day. The idea is explored in some detail and follows a quotation. Some of the quotations were familiar already (not less useful because of that), some less so, but all were at once reflective and encouraging. The clear message (if it can be simplified into one) is: work hard, consistently, focus on what works for you and you enjoy, but don’t be afraid to try new things. And Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I’m fairly new to self-publishing and marketing, although I have been trying my hand at it for a few months. I found reading Ms. Hart’s book that I’d tried some of the ideas suggested, some would not be workable for me at the moment (I’ve only published e-books so far and some of the ideas require a physical book), and some…Well, I should try. I’ve left notes to myself, and even before I read the whole book I checked the appendix and started listing my book on some of the free sites I hadn’t tried yet.

Ms. Hart’s style is easy to follow, engaging, and I particularly liked her sharing her own experiences and insights, including things she did not feel comfortable doing, and her less than successful efforts. I also liked the pace of the book, the encouragement it offers, and its emphasis on having a long-term plan, checking what one is doing and trying to maximise that, rather than frantically trying everything at once.

I read the whole book at once, rather than using it as it is intended (and that’s a limitation of my review), but will definitely be taking her advice at heart and trying some of the ideas I hadn’t considered (and some I’ve been thinking about but haven’t quite got around to…).

In conclusion I would recommend it to anybody who is into the publishing business, no matter the genre, and who feels they could benefit from encouragement and not heavy-handed expertise. And I will be looking forward to part 2.

Click on the link to buy it in Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Year-Book-Marketing-Part-ebook/dp/B00AVGUSVO/

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Naked in New York. A Memoir by Emmy Winning Writer Alan Cooke

Naked in New York is one of those books that we might never have come across unless circumstances conspired to bring them to our attention, but once they do we feel fortunate because they enrich our lives.

Although I love poetry (or some poetry at least) I don’t regularly read it. I came across the author’s YouTube video where he reads an excerpt of this book (that at that point was not yet published) in Facebook. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoVOnxcdJjg

Alan Cooke is an actor, writer (poet), filmmaker, and hearing him read ‘Naked in New York’ is an experience that I can recommend wholeheartedly. It’s mesmerising, emotional and ravishing. (His audiobook is available in his website).

The memoir describes the five years the author spent in New York, shortly after the 9/11 attack. He is not only an observer but also a participant that immerses himself in the city, its people, and its atmosphere that had been hardly shaken by the incident, an open wound that has left an indelible scar. His is not a story of the American Dream come true (at times quite the opposite), but even if it was just a necessary condition to get to write this book, it would have been more than worth it.

I have had the advantage of listening to a copy of the audiobook read by the author. It has made me stop on my tracks more than once, left me speechless because of the beauty of a sentence or a moment, made me sad at times (like when he reflects upon 9/11 or on the fate of the less fortunate inhabitants of the city), made me smile (a small gesture noted, a deep shared moment with a stranger, the bird having a bath and smiling), and made me reflect and think back to moments and experiences I could identify with. I might have thought it, but he says it much better.

Naked in New York is beautiful, heartfelt, insightful, self-reflective, personal and universal at the same time. It is truly human. I can’t think of anybody who would not like this book, and I would be worried about anybody who does not. Please read it and tell others about it. There isn’t enough beauty around. We must promote it.

Click on the link to buy the book it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Naked-In-New-York-ebook/dp/B00BMCWR88/

Click on the webpage to buy the audiobook:

http://www.wildirishpoet.com

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The Key to Success. Be noticed in Amazon: Marketing for writers by Armando Rodera

I am a writer and started to publish e-books a few months ago. From that moment on (although now I know I should have started well before that, but we can always learn something new) I’ve been reading a fair amount about book marketing. I have watched podcasts, I have read how to guides, books, YouTube videos, I have taken part in groups and discussions…What I mean is this is not the first book I read about it.

What makes Armando Rodera’s book different to all the others? (Because I can assure you it’s very different). Although the majority of these book have personal examples to share about what worked or did not work for the person writing the book in their efforts at marketing, The Key to Success is something other than just a marketing book, it is the story (or as we’ve heard so often these days the ‘journey’) of the path that Mr Rodera has followed since he discovered his vocation and love for writing up to now when he’s a world renown author.

The author offers advice, but it’s based on personal experience, rather than on strategies, plans and boring formulae that might or might not apply to the personal circumstances and taste of each reader. It is a publishing business’s (independent publishing mostly) guide , but one of this annotated guides, where one pauses to read about the typical dishes of the area, the customs and habits of the people, and the folklore of the region. It’s a guide for the traveller of discerning taste and good palate.

Another thing that makes the book exceptional (in my opinion the most important one) is the sheer quality of the writing. The majority of the marketing books I’ve read are written in a fairly simple and practical way, and that’s it. The Key to Success is different. When I was reading it there came a moment when I was no longer focused on the advice and I just concentrated on the pleasure of reading the book. I can assure you that any person who reads the book and has not read any of the author’s novels will feel compelled to read them.

Read The Key to Success. Use the good advice, but most of all, enjoy the prose and style of Armando Rodera. I believe this is the real key to his success.

Click to buy it (in Spanish) here:

http://www.amazon.com/LLAVE-%C3%89XITO-Spanish-Edition-ebook/dp/B00ARJUSFQ/

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to CLICK. I’m checking!