Archives for category: Recommendations

Hi all:

As you know, I love to read and review books and other things (movies, plays…). Although I read and watch things in very different genres (and I have a penchant for the unclassifiable, I must admit, both in my work and in that of others), and I love horror, and don’t flinch at gore or hard scenes or topics, sometimes one just fancies something gentle, that will leave us with a smile on our face and our heart, and a sigh of contentment, rather than making our blood pressure go up and leave us thinking about how awful the world can be.

I’m lucky enough, through Net Galley, to catch glimpses of books before they go on sale to the general public, and that was the case with this book, that will be officially published on the 18th of June but is available for pre-order.

The readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarian Bivald

The readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

First, the blurb:

The readers of the Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.

But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

Here, my review:

A dream of a book for all book lovers

Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an advance copy of this book that was a bestseller in its original Swedish.

What a wonderful book! If like me, you love books, you find time spent reading always rewarding, and would love to live in a library or a bookshop, this is your book.

Sara, the protagonist, who has always found company, consolation, friendship and support in books, takes a leap of faith and when the bookshop where she works closes down, she accepts the invitation of her pen-pal and fellow book lover, Amy. She goes to spend two month with Amy in Broken Wheel, Iowa. Unfortunately, things don’t go according to plan, but when she is adopted by the whole village, she comes up with a scheme to repay them in kind, by sharing the magic and power of books.

The transformation of Sara and the town are what drives the narrative, and the assorted characters (some more recognisable than others) become humanised by their contact with Sara and her books. So much so that they can’t let her go and will do anything to keep her with them.

I enjoyed Amy’s epistles that help us imagine the missing character, the sad characters (like George and John), the riotous ones (Andy, Grace), wonderful Caroline, the love interest… Well, everybody.

This isn’t a book of mysteries and intrigues. There are no major surprises and the plot meanders along gently inviting us to share in the characters’ adventures, where nothing drastic or earth shattering happens, just life as usual.

I loved the bookshop, and Sara’s classification system, and I’d like to work there and move to Broken Wheel. Because a book about books can’t be wrong.

A delightful read.

Ah, let’s not forget the links:

Kindle: $8.97

http://www.amazon.com/Readers-Broken-Wheel-Recommend-ebook/dp/B00TQDWHJO/

Paperback: $ 13.05  http://www.amazon.com/Readers-Broken-Wheel-Recommend/dp/070118907X/

Hardback: $12. 92 http://www.amazon.com/The-Readers-Broken-Wheel-Recommend/dp/0701189061/

Through Amazon Prime I have access to movies, TV series, etc, directly streamed to the TV (if you have it connected to the internet, that is) or to the Kindle or wherever. And I found a movie from 2010 I hadn’t seen, by Rob Reiner, called Flipped that had a similar effect. A gentle movie, good for family viewers, set in the late 1950s. I haven’t read the original book, but now I’m quite curious about it. The critics didn’t seem to like it very much, although viewers were kinder. OK, it’s no Stand By Me, not many movies are, but it is a kind movie, for all the family, mostly about children, their families, and I particularly enjoyed watching John Mahoney (from Frasier fame) portrayal as the grandad, and thought Anthony Edwards played with considerable restraint a truly unsympathetic character.

Just in case you feel curious, here is the link to IMDB:

Flipped

Flipped

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0817177/

Two eighth-graders start to have feelings for each other despite being total opposites. Based on the novel “Flipped” by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Director:

Rob Reiner

Writers:

Rob Reiner (screenplay), Andrew Scheinman(screenplay),

Stars:

Madeline CarrollCallan McAuliffeRebecca De Mornay, Aidan Queen, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller

Thank you all for reading, thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for the advance copy of The readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, and if you’ve enjoyed it, like, share, comment and CLICK!

Hi all:

You’ll remember a couple of weeks ago I published a post on reviews (by the way, many thanks for all the comments. It was one of the most dynamic posts I’ve published and I enjoyed the discussion it created). As I mentioned, apart from just reading for the blog and posting the reviews in a variety of sites, I do reviews for BTS e-magazine (click on the widget at the bottom of the post to go to the current number if you enjoy reading about new books and checking reviews) and although the actual reviews belong to the magazine, I like to share some of the books if I think you might enjoy them.

I’ve read some pretty heavy books recently and I don’t know you, but I like to combine light reads with heavier stuff. I reviewed these two books for the magazine, both by female authors, that I enjoyed and were like a breath of fresh air.  I’ll give you a taster and you can see what you think:

The Contract by Violet Ryan

The Contract by Violet Ryan

The Contract by Violet L. Ryan

Orphaned Grace Barnett receives many proposals because her property has a dependable year-round water supply. She agrees to marry Jacob Cooper, the stranger from the ranch next door who claims he’ll never fall in love. They’ll have only a straightforward contract.

Jilted two years before, Jake doesn’t trust women. He wants water rights, heirs, and a peaceful home. He expects the boyish girl next door to provide these without the messiness of emotions. When he sees her walk down the aisle, dressed as a woman, clean, and lovely, an inner struggle begins. Two strangers learning to live together in a house filled with emotional conflict and family intrigue will test their ability to cope and hinder chances to fall in love.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NZIHKSY/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NZIHKSY/

One paragraph from my review to give you an idea of what I thought:

With arch-villains, scheming ex-loves and relatives, handsome cowboys, formidable women, sexy Native-Americans and plenty of action, what the characters lack in psychological depth and consistency, they make up for in the sheer variety of misunderstandings and adventures they get involved in.

It reminded me of ‘The Little House of the Prairie’ and it made me smile.

I loved the heroine who is innocent but resourceful and I think you’ll like her too. And the rest of the characters added to the mix.

The author has written quite a few books and she sounds like someone I’d like to meet. Just check her page here:

http://www.amazon.com/Violet-L.-Ryan/e/B00A3A1G8M/

On quite a different note, setting and everything, but again written by another formidable female author (Australian in this case), I read:

See You in Hell (Mel Goes to Hell Series Book 2) by Demelza Carlton

See You in Hell (Mel Goes to Hell Series Book 2) by Demelza Carlton

See You In Hell (Mel Goes to Hell. Book 2)

A devilishly hot CEO. The angelic new office temp. A match made in Heaven or Hell?

Melody Angel takes a job as a temp at the HELL Corporation. Surrounded by eternal bureaucracy gone mad, demons who love making life miserable, and dying for a decent coffee, it may take a miracle for Mel’s mission to succeed. She must find out what evil plans Lucifer and his minions have in store and stop them, using any means necessary.

Adding trouble and temptation to Mel’s job is Luce Iblis, the damnably hot CEO, who has set his smouldering eyes on the new office angel and he’s determined to claim her, body and soul.

Can ultimate evil and angelic perfection escape a limbo of desire and find a paradise of their own?

A tiny taste of what’s in store:

“Do you know how long you’ve made me wait?” Luce lifted his chin. “Close the door.”

Mel turned and kicked the door shut with the sole of one shoe. The click of it closing coincided with her eyes meeting Luce’s once more.

“Now strip and get your arse on the desk,” Luce instructed.

Mel stared at him. He couldn’t be serious, could he?

“Every other girl in this building knows how to do as she’s told. Do you know how many girls I’ve had on this desk? You should consider yourself lucky. The last one I had in here was so quick getting undressed that I managed to give her a full fifteen minutes of my time. At this rate, you’ll be lucky to have five.”

Mel became transfixed by the timber desktop. “Did you wipe it clean afterwards?”

“What?” Luce’s face reddened.

Mel Goes to Hell series

This is the second book in the Mel Goes to Hell series, which includes:

  • Welcome to Hell (#1) – FREE
  • See You in Hell (#2)
  • Mel Goes to Hell (#3)
  • To Hell and Back (#4)
  • The Holiday From Hell (#5) (to be released 26 March 2015)
  • Melody Angel’s Guide to Heaven and Hell.

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JZZODA4/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JZZODA4/

This book I must tell you I thoroughly enjoyed. Despite what you might think, it is not erotica (it’s not high in my list of priorities and unless I’m really interested in the book I’ll avoid books where that’s the main focus) and no descriptive sex, although it is sexy (but you might disagree). What I don’t think you’ll disagree on is that it’s a good read and fun.

This is the beginning of my review:

If like me, you’ve also imagined hell as a bureaucratic nightmare where political correctness and paperwork are masters and your boss is Lucifer himself, you should read this novel. Imagine a world where Hell is in charge of most branches of the public sector.

There is romance, a fantastic angel at the centre of the book, and the cast of characters reminded me of Greek gods, as angels and demons are very human and recognisable, and by the end of it…Oh well, you go on and read it.

And, extremely good news. If you want to try the first short story in the series, this one is free:

Welcome to Hell (Mel Goes To Hell Book 1) by Demelza Carlton

Welcome to Hell (Mel Goes To Hell Book 1) by Demelza Carlton

Welcome to Hell (Mel Goes to Hell Book 1)

“Good morning. Welcome to HELL.”
Mel hates job interviews – and this one’s shaping up to be the interview from Hell.

From the grumpy receptionist to the disturbingly demonic interview panel and the sleazy CEO, it seems landing her first job is the least of Mel’s worries.

Can she make it out of the office alive without selling her soul?

A tiny taste of what’s in store:

Lilith opened the door, waiting for Mel to leave first. Mel did so, almost running into a man in a dark suit.

His coffee splashed high, yet he caught most of it in his cup. Not a spot landed on Mel – just one on the man’s shoe. “Damn,” he swore, swiping at it with a black handkerchief that appeared almost instantly in his hand. As he rose from his crouch, he took in Mel’s attire, from her toes to her raised eyebrows.

He summoned a smile that clashed with the stormy expression in his eyes. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you in the office before and I make it a point to know all of my staff intimately.” He handed the dripping cup to Mel’s haughty interviewer, who took it without a murmur, even as some of the coffee slopped onto Lilith’s shoes.

He held out his hand to shake Mel’s. “Luce Iblis, CEO of the HELL Corporation.”

Mel gave him her fingers, in such a way that he couldn’t crush them in his firm handshake.

“I’m Mel,” she began.

“This is her first time here. She’s being interviewed for a position here at Health, Environment, Life and Lands Corporation – as my executive officer,” Lilith said.

Luce’s eyes stared hungrily at Mel as she lowered her gaze. “Is that so? I suspect I’ll be seeing a lot more of you very soon, then. I look forward to welcoming you to HELL.”

Links:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IL9ZDH2/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00IL9ZDH2/

When I finished the previous one I wanted to start reading this one but unfortunately my Kindle hadn’t downloaded it properly (only to the Cloud) and I had no connection where I was at the time. And then I started reading another book so… But I must say I found the other one therapeutic.

And just in case you like Boxsets:

Welcome to Hell by Demelza Carlton

Welcome to Hell by Demelza Carlton

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S6IK3QY/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00S6IK3QY/

Thank you for reading, thank you to BTS e-magazine and to both authors, and you know, like, share, comment, CLICK, and of course, don’t forget to check the magazine!

Hi all:

As you know apart from writing and translating (when I have time!) I read books and review in a variety of places. And every so often I bring them here for your information. Today I have a varied selection. See if you find something of interest:

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly. Non-stop action and dragons in China.

Thanks to Net Galley I got a pre-release copy of this novel. It’s still in pre-order, so you can read about it before it comes out.

The Great Zoo of China is a good romp, a fabulous ride and a fast-paced adventure/thriller book. You have to be prepared to suspend disbelief and to not mind if situations are stretched a bit far, but if you are happy to do that…you’ll have a fun read.

The book reminded me of Jurassic Park and reading the interview with the author at the end (that I recommend to readers and writers alike) I was not surprised to discover it was one of his favourite books.  The main differences are the setting and the creatures. If Jurassic Park could be seen as a criticism of capitalism’s lack of scruples, one has to wonder, what would be crueller and hungrier, capitalism run amok or communism desperate to become the biggest power by hijacking the world’s attention? While you might have your own opinion on how likely a scenario this is, the possible reasons provided as background don’t interfere greatly with the enjoyment of the story, unless you take them too seriously.

The Great Zoo of China (hardback cover)

The Great Zoo of China (hardback cover)

The similarities with Jurassic Park go from the pseudo-scientific details (although this book’s premise is more fanciful if you like myths and dragons you’ll enjoy the thought), to the size of the creatures, little children, and families, the action-packed episodes and our wondering who (if anybody) will make it out live.

I liked the female hero although we get but a few glimpses of her previous life and there is little psychological depth, but she has guts aplenty. It’s easy to root for her.

To begin with, the book made me think of a huge action movie, later of an adventure computer game where the main character is always looking for a new weapon to fight the big menace (here really enormous). It also reminded me of horror movies with the scary monster who refuses to die and always keeps coming at you. And of the old movies by instalments where you would go from one nail-biting cliff-hanger to the next without time to catch your breath.

The book is a quick and easy read and a page turner. It made me very aware that there are only so many ways one can say big, huge, enormous…

If you’ve read many books in this genre I don’t think it will break new ground or be utterly surprising but it achieves its aims successfully and it is big. If you want escapism, a read that will make you jump and keep you entertained, this novel more than fits the bill.

This is the pre-order link:

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Zoo-China-Matthew-Reilly-ebook/dp/B00MENIERC/

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell

The Serpent Papers by Jessica Cornwell. Alchemy, codices and witches in Barcelona

I requested a free copy of this novel from Net Galley when I read the description and saw this was a book about a quest for knowledge, the search for an old manuscript, and the action took place in part in Barcelona. Being from Barcelona and having loved books and reading all my life, it was difficult to resist.

The Serpent Papers is the story of the search for an old illuminated manuscript (a palimpsest to be precise) that has been hidden for years to prevent its destruction. The links of this manuscript with alchemy, an enigmatic figure (Rex Illuminatus confused  at times with the historical figure of Ramon Llull), immortality, witches, and women’s murders make for a complex story. At the heart of the novel there’s a scholar/detective/expert, Anna Verco, who might or might not have some paranormal powers (that might instead be due to organic reasons). Like in many of these books, the search for meaning also becomes an inquiry into the main character and what she stands for.

Cornwell (granddaughter of John le Carré) builds up a complex structure to tell her story. Letters from different periods, accounts of previous attempts at investigating Rex Illuminatus by other experts, interviews of people who knew the victims, dreams and hallucinations…All of them sound and read real, showing a breadth of knowledge and characterization rich and convincing. The language can go from the poetic and lyrical to the mundane and down-to-earth, changing registers with ease.

I loved the little snippets of folk story and legends of the city of Barcelona, the descriptions of the landscape of the island of Mallorca, and the challenges the story poses. It is not an easy read and it can be demanding, both of one’s attention and also of knowledge and deductive capacities. I wondered if a cast of characters for the different eras with some brief descriptions might not make the reading experience easier.

Men using their power and violence to silence women, women being cast as witches as a way of shutting them up, and centuries of attempts at keeping secrets under wraps are not new ideas (at times it made me think of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist although the novel is more complex) but that does not detract from a solid novel that I kept imagining in a big screen near us. I can see actresses fighting over the main character and Barcelona and Mallorca looking very handsome indeed in the adaptation.

I understand this is the first in an ‘alchemical thriller’ trilogy. The appeal and the pull on the imagination of the subject would keep readers coming back for more. Readers who like books about intrigues in a historical setting and with conspiracy theory backgrounds will enjoy it, although I suspect it might be slightly more demanding than previous titles that have become very popular.

In a separate note, I wasn’t sure about the Catalan sentences. There were a number of typos and I couldn’t work out if it was phonetically recorded rather than intended as orthographically correct. More consistency in that aspect would have made the book more seamless for me (that would not be a problem for people not familiar with Catalan).

Just in case you want to check what others have said, here is the Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/21/the-serpent-papers-jessica-cornwell-review

Here the link to the actual book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Serpent-Papers-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00MELZJM2

 

Alex Haley's Roots. An Author's Odyssey by Adam Henig

Alex Haley’s Roots. An Author’s Odyssey by Adam Henig

Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey by Adam Henig. Shining some light on the Roots controversy.

This is an informative account of the period of time in Alex Haley’s life following the publication of roots and the TV series but it is not a complete conventional biography. Although it does not delve deep into the author’s motives (it is not a deep psychological portrait), it does a great job of reviewing existing sources and even on occasions adding new material from interviews. I was aware of some of the controversy surrounding ‘Roots’ but not of the evidence and details that unfolded. This is a must for people interested in Roots and Haley, and considering its length, it offers a good summary of the sources. I’d love to see and read more of the extensive sources the author explored to produce this work, as there seems to exist much untapped potential.

A well-written and compelling account of a fascinating work (however we might choose to define it) that changed people’s perception of African-American history and stories.

As an author, I also enjoyed the collection of blogs chartering the journey of Adam Henig to, first research, and finally self-publish the book. I hope more books will follow.

http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Haleys-Roots-Authors-Odyssey-ebook/dp/B00HRN891A/

Thanks to all the authors for their books and special thanks to all of you for reading. Please, like, comment, share, CLICK and above all, keep reading!

Hi all:

As you’ll remember last week I brought you some of the books I had reviewed recently that I though you might find inspiring if you were looking for something to buy for your nearest and dearest (and of course, who’s nearest and dearest than your good selves?). As I’m a writer and an avid reader, I’ve always loved to have books as presents, so…

I started reviewing for BTS-e Magazine a few months back. The deal is that the reviews belong to the magazine although we can share bits of them and links. I’ve read now a few books and thought that although I wasn’t going to share the reviews (or only a bite-sound of it) you might find something interesting there. I’m also sharing the description of the books for more info.

Here is the link to the magazine where there are many more reviews (you can also click on the button down for up-to-date numbers of the magazine). Some of my reviews will be still pending, so consider this a preview:

http://btsemag.com/magazine/

For horror lovers:

The Devil's Woods by Brian Moreland

The Devil’s Woods by Brian Moreland

Fear wears many skins.

Deep within the Canadian wilderness, people have been disappearing for over a century. There is a place the locals call “the Devil’s Woods”, but to speak of it will only bring the devil to your door. It is a place so evil that even animals avoid it.

When their father’s expedition team goes missing, Kyle Elkheart and his brother and sister return to the abandoned Cree Indian reservation where they were born. Kyle can see ghosts that haunt the woods surrounding the village—and they seem to be trying to warn him. The search for their father will lead Kyle and his siblings to the dark heart of the legendary forest, where their mission will quickly become a fight for survival.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Woods-Brian-Moreland-ebook/dp/B00DUB258Q/

http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Woods-Brian-Moreland-ebook/dp/B00DUB258Q/

Just a snippet of my review:

Written in a direct style, with vivid descriptions that make you live the action, psychologically complex characters you get to care for and a good rhythm that never lets you off the hook.

And I did like it so much that I repeated with another one of the author’s books:

The Vagrants by Brian Moreland

The Vagrants by Brian Moreland

Beneath the city of Boston, evil is gathering.

Journalist Daniel Finley is determined to save the impoverished of the world. But the abandoned part of humanity has a dark side too. While living under a bridge with the homeless for six months, Daniel witnessed something terrifying. Something that nearly cost him his sanity.

Now, two years later, he’s published a book that exposes a deadly underground cult and its charismatic leader. And Daniel fears the vagrants are after him because of it. At the same time, his father is being terrorized by vicious mobsters. As he desperately tries to help his father, Daniel gets caught up in the middle of a war between the Irish-American mafia and a deranged cult of homeless people who are preparing to shed blood on the streets of Boston.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vagrants-Brian-Moreland-ebook/dp/B00K1WUCIC/

http://www.amazon.com/Vagrants-Brian-Moreland-ebook/dp/B00K1WUCIC/

This is seriously scary read (and I love my horror!). Don’t say I didn’t warn you and come crying back to me!

Here a brief snippet of my review:

The story is shorter and tighter, graphically rendered and truly terrifying. Prepared to be scared.

If you like thrillers that keep you guessing:

In His Eyes by Nina Pierce

In His Eyes by Nina Pierce

*** SECOND PLACE WINNER in the suspense category of the 2014 INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL AWARDS ***

It’s always wonderful to be noticed … or is it?

To those around her, Maggie Callaghan appears to have the perfect life…a handsome husband, three beautiful children, and her own business. But beneath her thin veneer lies a dark past and self-doubts. When evidence of her husband’s infidelity surfaces, Maggie leases a cottage on the Maine coast and prepares for her inevitable divorce. But a serial killer is on the hunt–and he’s marked Maggie as his next victim. Now her beachside retreat is the focus of an undercover FBI investigation targeting the murderer who’s left a trail of bodies across two states. As lies and secrets are revealed, Maggie realizes her life depends on knowing who’s protecting her–and who’s got her in his sights.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Eyes-Nina-Pierce-ebook/dp/B00H2BBPNG/

http://www.amazon.com/His-Eyes-Nina-Pierce-ebook/dp/B00H2BBPNG/

I must admit this books wrongfooted me from the very beginning. It is written in a very intriguing way, and it goes to show how point of view can be put to excellent use.

A brief extract from my review:

Red herrings, confusing clues and creepy guys with secret identities will keep you guessing throughout. A gripping read.

And, if you need something gentle and relaxed for all ages try this romance:

Firecracker Queen by Cat Shaffer

Firecracker Queen by Cat Shaffer

A NEXT DOOR Category Romance

How can one small town cause Betsey Jones such big problems?

Betsey Jones has one simple desire: to spend a peaceful summer in her hometown of Milford Falls, Michigan, while she decides what to do with the rest of her life. But Betsey hadn’t figured on being blackmailed into competing in the Miss Firecracker contest, mentoring a teen who didn’t want a faux big sister or coming face to face with Quentin Hayes, the cocky jock from her high school years.

Quent knew his editor wasn’t happy with him, but he never expected to be banished to Milford Falls to report on a beauty pageant as punishment. Once there he realizes his past wasn’t quite as he remembered it, Betsey is far different than the usual beauty queen wannabe and that everything he’s always wanted may not be what he really needs.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Firecracker-Queen-NEXT-Category-Romance-ebook/dp/B00LAGEJHS/

http://www.amazon.com/Firecracker-Queen-NEXT-Category-Romance-ebook/dp/B00LAGEJHS/

Although it’s set during the summer, I think it might be the ticket for Christmas when sometimes things can get quite stressful. No big surprises, just a gentle ride, full of characters you’d like to have as neighbours in real life.

Comfortable as an old pair of slippers….It will make you smile but it won’t rock your world.

I hope you might find something of interest to yourself or one of your loved ones. But don’t worry, I’ll keep bringing you more ideas and suggestions on Fridays. 

Thanks to all the authors who’ve worked so hard to bring us these awesome books, and thanks to you for reading. And you know the drill: like, share, comment and CLICK!

Ah, and as a bonus, you’ll have noticed Sally Cronin kindly featured one of my selected carols in one of her posts in the series of the 12 days of Christmas. When reading the comments I remembered this parody of the 12 days of Christmas by Frank Kelly (Father Jack in the series Father Ted). I had to share. It always makes me howl with laughter. Do click!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQkF7fpw-wI

Hi all:

As you know I love to write and read and I’ve been quite busy reading and reviewing of recent. Apart from sharing in the usual places, I also do reviews and share now in Literary World Interviews. And I realised I had not shared those here. So, as Christmas is coming, well, see what I’ve been reading and you might find something for a loved one (and of course, loving thyself is a great policy!).

For the writer you love, what better than:

Self-publishing Steps

Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales by Seumas Gallacher

Seumas Gallacher is a writer with a large on-line following. In this book, Mr. Gallacher shares his experiences of self-publishing. From his discovery that this was indeed a possibility, to now having thousands of books sold to his name.

This is not a detailed manual on how to format your book, or how to create you cover. There are plenty of posts, books, etc, that share that type of information. This book offers general advice on the topic, and it is concise and to the point. Moreover, it emphasises the author’s personal experience, that is, of course not fully replicable by anybody else. If you have not read Mr Gallacher’s posts in the various social media, you don’t know how personal his style is. His advice is sound and has to be adapted and transformed by every author. One of the points Mr Gallacher emphasises is the business aspect of writing. Although you might see it as an expression of your inner being or as a need to inform people of something, or as a deep felt vocation, if you plan on making a living out of writing, or trying to, you must approach it professionally as a business, the same you would any other. Of course, your reasons for writing could be others than to make money out of it. In that case you would be well advised to create your own definition of success and not worry too much about rankings or sales, although this book would still provide a useful general guide.

Personally, I found the book clear, easy to follow and a quick read. Mr Seumas’s personal style shines through. I particularly enjoyed the non-internet part of his experience that demonstrates the importance of making connections, knowing the area you work in, and not being shy. Try it. If they say no, you’re no further back that when you started, but if they say yes…the sky could be the limit.

I recommend this book to new authors and also to those who have a number of publications to their name. You might be reassured you’re doing the right things, you might wonder about a change of strategy, and you will enjoy the style of writing and discover plenty about the business. And also a few things about this great and generous author.

http://www.amazon.com/Self-Publishing-Steps-Successful-Seumas-Gallacher-ebook/dp/B00JBL6K80/

Atonement, Tennessee by Teagan Geneviene

Atonement, Tennessee by Teagan Geneviene

Atonement, Tennessee by Teagan Geneviene. Do you know who you really are?

In Atonement. Tennessee a few residents don’t and they make some interesting discoveries throughout the novel.

If there is such a thing as your “standard novel” and I’m not sure there is, Atonement, Tennessee is definitely not it. Although some aspects of the story might seem familiar to readers (we have a newcomer to a small and seemingly fairly quirky town, a catalogue of slightly odd characters, hidden and dark stories behind perfect surfaces…), others definitely will not. Although we spend most of the time in Ralda’s head (her given name is Esmeralda and that plays quite an important part in the book), we also see things from the point of view of Lilith, her cat, and that allows us to gain more knowledge than Ralda has, but from a peculiar viewpoint that means we are observes and what we see is unfiltered by either reason or prejudice.

Other novel and original aspects are its mixing of the everyday and the magical/paranormal. There are dogs barking, cats sneaking out, moving companies that keep getting delayed, but also strange and eerie mirrors, a cemetery that is part of the property and hides many secrets, attractive but strangely bizarre men, unknown magical birds, and fairly unusual dreams.

Ralda is self-reflective and we not only see things from her point of view (for the most part) but her internal dialogue works as a narrator who accompanies us. But how reliable a narrator is she? The many everyday worries that surround her (will the cat get out of the house? Will she finally get her possessions back? How much will it cost to repair the house?) keep pulling her attention away from the many strange and fantastic things that are also happening. She doubts herself, but she’s shown as dealing well with other people’s problems and being highly effective. When it comes to herself, though, things are more complicated and she does not want to accept that she can be at the centre of unknown powers and events. It is not so much that she’s trying to misguide us; it is that she does not even want to allow herself to think about certain things (like what she might feel for the male characters).

Although something mysterious happens early in the book (that seems connected to one of the objects), this is by no means the main mystery. Why Ralda is there and who she is are at the heart of the book and by the end we might have our suspicions, but like the protagonist, we lack information to come to any conclusions. We have the answer to some of our questions, but can only speculate about others. But this leaves room for a sequel and I hope the author will be working on it as you read this.

The writing style is engaging and accessible, there is enough description to fire the imagination without being overly detailed and doing all the work for the reader, and the chosen point of view offers fascinating psychological insights into the main character.

What did I love about the book? The setting, the fabulously strange house, the cemetery, Lilith, the sheriff (not as onedimensional as everybody thinks), the friendship between the four women, the locket, the bed, the dreams…It reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe but not as dark.

What didn’t I like? That there isn’t a second part to tell me more about the mysteries that are suggested but we don’t get to know enough of.

Who do I recommend it to? If you like spooky tales, old houses, mystery, cats, legends, magic and stories about women I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Ah, let’s not forget unusual birds and cemeteries…Is there anybody not included?

I encourage the author to bring us part two very soon. We want to know more!

Here the book trailer, in case you want to get in the mood for the story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koggOn6vcDs#t=57

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HGSVA8A/

Create Space: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481826948/

Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/atonement-tennessee-teagan-geneviene/1117790203?ean=2940148918431

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Some Luck by Jane Smiley. A novel about the things that really make life what it is.

There is something very attractive about settling down to read the story of a family and getting to know them for a lengthy period of time, as if they were family friends. In the case of Last Hundred Years Trilogy, of which Some Luck is the first novel, a hundred years, no less.

In an era when people don’t seem to have time for anything and everything must be shorter and faster today than it was yesterday, the promise of space and time to see characters and situations develop feels like a welcome luxury.

Jane Smiley’s new novel that starts with the kernel of a young family living in an Iowan farm, has been described as an epic and it is, not only for its large cast of characters (no big figures, no huge names, just people like you and me), but for its breadth, spread and ambition. Some Luck follows several generations of the same family (and they keep coming) through their lives and that of their country and the world. The novel is marvellously democratic, with no hierarchy of voices or experiences, and the same space is given to a toddler trying to understand the world around him and the functioning of his own body than to somebody drawing their last breath.

Readers get to know the many characters from inside, in a non-judgemental way, as you accompany them through their lives in their own heads, and you might like them and agree with them more or less, but you come to accept them as they are.

The book reminded me of a recent and wonderful movie Boyhood although the novel’s reach is greater but the feeling of peace and reflexivity you experience is similar.

The author’s ability to use brief but descriptive language, and combine it with extremely subjective, stream-of-consciousness passages, and quasi poetic everyday wisdom (and philosophy) creates a beautifully textured patchwork of a novel. If maybe the dimensions of the canvas are smaller, this could be the War and Peace of this generation.

This is a novel that moves at a sedate and calm pace, made of little moments and small steps; in summary, a novel about the things that really make life what it is. Extraordinary in its everydayness. I hope to meet the family (that has become mine as well) again very soon.

Paperback:  http://www.amazon.com/Some-Luck-novel-Jane-Smiley/dp/0307700313/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Some-Luck-Jane-Smiley-ebook/dp/B00LB89SA8/

Dead drop by Jesse Miles

Dead drop by Jesse Miles

Dead Drop. A P.I. and Philosopher at home in L.A.

When I read the description of this novel in Net Galley (I obtained a free copy there) the premise sounded interesting. I enjoy mystery, suspense and crime thrillers. For me, the best are a combination of a gripping story and unforgettable characters. With regards to the story, it could be a fascinating and well described setting, or it might take place at an interesting historical moment, or in a peculiar background… And the characters…Real human beings with quirks, conflicts, lives, and voices. A P.I. who gets a job checking a possible case of embezzlement in a huge corporation (that as you can imagine quickly become far more complicated than that) and who also teaches Philosophy sounded promising on both counts.

Apart from all that, Dead Drop (the meaning of the name is explained in the novel) has elements also of the spy thriller. Jack Salvo, the detective, is in quite a few ways, your typical P.I. The novel is written in the first person and therefore we don’t get much on the way of other people’s point of view as to how Jack comes across to others. He seems popular with the women (although in some cases it is unclear if that might not be due to the attempts of the female characters at getting inside information from him), he knows about everything, he is well conversant with L.A. (I’ve never been there but to my untrained eye, the details seemed convincing), he is self-assured…and he teaches Philosophy and seems to enjoy it. But other than that little detail about him (and a very late brief discussion about his life with one of the female characters who becomes his love interest, Lily) I didn’t get the sense that I learned very much about the character or that he was much more than a collection of all his characteristics (that were neither offensive not particularly endearing, other than his interest in his teaching).

The plot is well developed and combines research, intrigue, action and mystery. Nobody is who they seem to be, and the story takes Jack from the corporate world, through veterans of the French foreign legion (and Philosophy experts to boot), bit actresses, luxury car garages, good old fashioned surveillance, breaking and entering, Swiss bank accounts, murder and bluff and double bluff.

The style of writing is clean, direct, easy to read, and fast-paced and fits in with the story. In summary I enjoyed the book but thought it could gain by developing the main character a bit more. Some of his reactions towards the end of the novel and his love story seem a bit sudden and not completely in keeping with the persona developed throughout the rest. As this is the first of a series of novels it might well be that the background will come more into play in later novels and it might allow the character to grow and become more multidimensional.

A solid story, a good and interesting read, just a notch below the unmissable category.

 http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Drop-Jesse-Miles-ebook/dp/B00NMO1S9I/

I hope you find something you, or someone you know, might fancy, but don’t worry, I have more to come. Also do check my previous recommendations, new books, and I’ll be reminding you of other suggestions on Fridays posts coming up to Christmas. 

Ah, and is that time of the year when we fancy something a bit new, so I decided to change the cover of my YA/NA novella ‘Twin Evils?‘ the story of two twins and their friend where things might not be exactly as they seem. And to celebrate the new cover it’s only $0.99.

See what you think!

Twin Evils? by Olga Núñez Miret

Twin Evils? by Olga Núñez Miret

Thanks to all the writers featured for their books, thanks to you all for reading, and you know, like, share, comment and of course CLICK!

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