review

From Story Idea To Reader by Rosemary J. Kind and Patsy Collins

From Story Idea to Reader cover art

I was asked to review a audible copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and I agreed as it’s one my wishlist. I’ve read a lot of writing books over the years and own a few and this one definitely stood out from the rest.

Synopsis

“From Story Idea to Reader is an easily accessible guide to writing fiction. Whether you are brushing up on your writing skills or starting out, this book will take you through the whole process from inspiration to conclusion. No matter if you are looking to submit your work for publication, enter a competition, or want to self-publish, this practical guide will help you every step of the way.

Between them, Patsy Collins and Rosemary Kind have sold hundreds of short stories, written 16 published books, and produced numerous articles for Writing Magazine and similar publications. They’ve both judged writing competitions and run workshops, and Rosemary has read and edited thousands of short stories and published dozens of books for other writers.”

My Thoughts

This book is perfect for beginners with lots of practical information many other books don’t even brush on: how to start, finding the space to writing, finding the time and what you really need. Specifically how to start your writing journey/career if you’re on a budget. The first book I’ve read that gives you this advice.

The first part of this book is how to write and the second part gives information about practical advice regarding formatting and markets. I recommend this book above all others for beginners and people who want to earn a living from writing. Most books spend a lot of time telling you how to write but not much on how to make a career. I’ve never read a book that told me about the right formatting and how to implement it on a word processor! This book even tells you about taxes!

Although I said it’s for beginners I’m not really a beginner and straight away I learnt things from this book: After listening to the ‘where do you get your ideas’ bit I was inspired and had an idea of how to come at a story from a different angle. There’s a section on dialogue and they mention using speech tags, saying that sometimes you don’t need to use them at all.  And then: tips about backing up your work and how to use what you know to inspire your writing, making a note of what names you have used and titles not to overuse them in other future works.
There’s something for writers of all levels in this book. 

What makes this books stand out from all the others: it’s written using the personal experience of the authors. It reads like a conversation between friends telling you how they write and how you can start and continue your writing career. Most books on writing take ages to read and they are how-to or report like books, but From Story Idea To Reader has no waffle and gets straight to the point with worthwhile knowledge others books don’t give or only skim.This definitely deserves a place on any writers’ bookshelf.

There’s a lot of books about writing and it’s hard to know which ones stand out and are going to teach you and which ones are just a regurgitation of every other book or give you a promise that could be fulfilled in a blog post rather than buying a whole book. I’ve read a few and own quite a few. This one stands out and has something for writers at every stage of this journey/career.
I’m going to have to get a physical copy of this book and reread it, I realised I prefer to read books rather than listen and whilst listening to it I didn’t do the exercises at the end of each chapter. So excuse to get a copy!

You can find this book here on Amazon. 

 

 

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Blog Tour

The String Games by Gail Aldwin

I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for The String Games by Gail Aldwin. I have previously recieved a copy of a short story collection by Gail,  Paisley Shirt, which I enjoyed (review here) and when I was asked to read and review her novel I was intrigued at the synopsis and excited to be involved.

Synopsis from GoodReads:

When four-year-old Josh is abducted and murdered during a family holiday in France, Nim, aged ten, becomes an only child. To cope with the tragedy, Nim reinvents herself but continues to carry a burden of unresolved grief. As an adult she returns to France determined to find out more about the circumstances of Josh’s death. How will she deal with this new information and what are the implications for her future? “

My thoughts

The String Games begins with an intriguing prologue of Nim in the future having an idea and rushing to her computer. Then goes back into the past to tell the story. The style draws you in and the description of the French setting makes you feel like you’re right there. I loved this book straight away, it’s one of those books that you can tell from the start it’s going to be something special. It’s tells the story of what happed to Nim’s brother Josh and how it affected her life as she got older.

When Josh disappears, it’s awful and the way it’s written you hold onto hope with the family that he will be found. Everyone deals with it differently and the novel is about how they cope and how it effects their lives and especially Nim as she gets older. I can’t imagine what it might be like to lose a child or sibling but this novel gave me an idea.

When Nim went back to France to come to terms with it all as an adult it did feel nostalgic, like going back to revisit places from you’re own childhood. It was good to revisit the place and people she met.

It’s always difficult to write a review for a book this good, I struggle to put into words how good it is: I was riveted from the start and managed to finish the novel in a few days. I enjoyed the story. The characters are life like and you quickly get to like them and get drawn into their world. Although a very sad novel filled with grief, it was a really interesting and engaging read.

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You can find more about Gail and her work by visiting her website: https://gailaldwin.com/ 

Or you can find Gail on social media: Twitter: @gailaldwin,  Facebook. 

Visit the GoodReads page for more reviews.

The String Games is available to pre-order now, find more information on the Victorina Press website

Uncategorized

Collecting Classics

I don’t really know how it started. My sister bought some really lovely copies of classics from a charity shop, I learnt about the existence of the Penguin Clothbound Classics which started a conversation with a fellow booklover in work. Internet, twitter. I don’t know.

I did start to buy some signed copies (I blame Waterstones) of modern fiction and I have a gorgeous hardback boxset of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar children but I think the need to have lovely classics came first.

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It must’ve started before all that. I started off buying the classics in paperback, just because that’s what I found first. But I’ve been wanting a hardback copy of Jane Eyre for a while, you can see my first paperback and the later cheap hardback I bought.

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The rest of my classic paperbacks amongst my other books…

I’ve already got a few hardback classics but I don’t think they’re considered collectable and I started looking at the more collectable editions recently. Technically my collection started with this book:

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I can thank a former colleague for this my first clothbound classic, it was a secret santa gift. The plan was to buy more clothbound classics but when I was shopping in Waterstones last they didn’t have Jane Eyre which being my favourite classic I wanted to start with. But then I discovered how many different collectable classics there are. And probably thanks to the Ninjas I heard about the Folio Society classics. The difference between the Folios and the other books I have (except Heidi) is that they have illustrations. I was recently struggling to pick which edition of Jane Eyre I preferred and ended up buying this book:

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The Ninja Book Box had this copy of Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, available in their shop, they shared it on social media and I just had to buy it, in prefect condition. 

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I have read it before and have it in paperback, I think, but collecting classics is about finding beautiful copies of the books you love. Even if you already have them. After all I already had two copies of Jane Eyre (not counting the ebook) and I bought another one recently but I’m tempted to do what a fellow bookblogger is doing (Esmé from Esmoggle Reads) and collect more.

People collect other things why not collect books?

When I was looking for a copy of Jane Eyre on ebay I found this:

 

I hadn’t planned to buy this but the illustrations inside are so dark, it’s probably not the most lighthearted of copies of this book but it is beautifully gothic. The illustrations inside are what sold it for me:

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So I’ve got the bug, but I can’t buy anymore just yet. (The good thing about buying these books is I’ve had to stop buying more books). I’m not sure what books I’m going to buy next and how often I’m going to add to my collection but this is a start.

What do you think about these books? Do you like collecting specific books? Share links to your posts.

 

review

A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E.Schwab

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I only recently heard about this author for the first time on a writing podcast by Tim Clare  (whose book The Ice House I’ve reviewed and bought a copy of  and The Honours), the interview was interesting and V.E. Schwab’s books sounded amazing. So I had to read them, I bought this from Waterstones.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

My Thoughts

When I started reading this book I was going through a phase of reading a lot of fantasy. And this fantasy world is so different, the magic in the book is so unique. I love it when I read something different, something that stands out.

I was hooked from the start. The characters are brilliant, people I quickly liked and cared about.  Leila is a thief, she has to be to survive but she wants to be a pirate and own her own ship! I love that! (being a Pirates of the carribean fan), she’s quite violent but I love her strength. And she’s entertaining, a character whose story you will want to follow.

Kell is one of the last remaining Antari, he cares so much for his brother. He smuggles objects between the three Londons which is intriguing.

The three Londons?  Red and White London  have magic and Grey London is like an older version of our world with no magic. There is a fourth but it’s sealed. I love the idea. It’s an interesting fantasy world and I want to read more. The settings are so detailed and easy to visualise.

Athos and Astrid the rulers of white London are really chilling characters which I enjoyed as a horror fan. Except their treatment of people is barbaric but they are intriguing and show how much white London has lost it’s magic.

I had so much sympathy for George in grey London.

There’s so much going on in this book, it’s action packed and riveting so you may read this book quicker than you’d like to. I tried to savour it but I couldn’t stop reading, the drip feed of intriguing information made me want to turn the page to find out what’s next.

There are more books in the series, A Gathering of Shadows and Shades of Light which I will be reading!

The one thing that really made me love this book even more: the main problem/conflict was resolved by the end of the book, despite it being part of a series. I loved that because I don’t like it when you get to the end of book one and you have to read the (4/5) books to find out the answer to a burning question. This ended perfectly and with plenty of possibility for the next books shich I really want ot read. I loved it!

I didn’t want to give too much away so apologies if my information may be a bit vague.

 

review

Little Creepers by Jessica Walsh

Little Creepers

There was a campaign on Twitter, authors were looking for reviews for their books and this is one of the books I jumped at the chance to review. So I need to say: I recieved this ebook free in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from GoodReads

“Fear isn’t always loud. It doesn’t always scream or announce itself with a loud thud on the closet door. Sometimes it creeps, slithers and crawls.Sometimes it’s waiting in the shadows, whispering as you pass by.These stories may not scare you, but one or two whispers may just burrow into the back of your brain.They may make you shiver at night and consider, for just a moment, that maybe you left the front door unlocked and maybe those were footsteps you heard inside. Little Creepers contains 14 short stories, written by Jessica Walsh, meant to creep and crawl up your spine.”

My thoughts

That synopsis says it all really. I love horror and I don’t read enough of it so I get excited when I read it again and I never realise how much I miss it. Then I read this and it’s so good.

These short stories feature some characters who are scared of mundane things, a fog on a screen, tracks in the snow. But they are described in such a chilling way and quite scary you wonder by the end is this real?

I loved all these stories but here’s a snapshot of my favourites:

Giving In, a short poignant tale that pulls at the heart. it’s quite scary and you can hear the sounds and see the images.

Toothache, my favourite, it’s written in second person and wow! You can feel the pain the character is in.

For Sale, this one was about selling copies of parts of yourself for money, it was very well done. The character was thinking about how her skin (pigment and freckles) and other parts of her body like her toes could be on someone else. Perfectly horrible!

There was a longer story  My Life about this guy who moves into a new place and…. …weird. Nicholas is lonely! 

They’re all great. Short, creepy, tense and riveting.

If you love horror you need to read this! It’s so good. I’ll be reading this again!

If you don’t like horror take note and give this a go for Halloween. (Here’s the link to buy)

The title of this collection is apt, these  stories are Little Creepers!

 

Books

To finish or not to finish?

It’s not always a simple decision about whether or not you want to finish a book. There’s a lot of decision on twitter about DNF books. If you don’t like them and you know you can’t continue it’s simple. But I have these books that I’m just not sure what to do.

 

The Raven's Head

I mentioned this in my previous post. I liked the book when I started reading it but I have other books I enjoy more so I’ve put it aside for now.

What’s not to like? I think it may be the viewpoint change that is getting on my nerves. I’m not sure, maybe it’s just the wrong time to read it.

Finish or not? I keep thinking that I’m going to pick it back up again and continue it so I’m leaving on my ‘currently reading’ shelf on GoodReads for now

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I bought this book last year. I wanted books set on an island with a magical theme, as research for the novel I’m writing. Sort of. I thought it would give me more info about island life and I could avoid having a similar book.

What’s not to like? I didn’t like the viewpoint changes and to make it worse there were viewpoint changes in the same chapter! They’d just be a new paragraph and this put me off. Surprised as Nora Roberts is a well known writer and popular it seems like a mistake for a new writer not to serperate viewpoint, but maybe I’m wrong. I liked the concept but the style wasn’t gripping me. I liked the characters. I think it was the different viewpoint that put me off, I love reading books with one viewpoint or at least not too many, I prefer the (I think it’s called:) limited viewpoint, where you only see what that one character sees rather than dip in and out of all the characters heads which this one seemed to do (in one scene) because there was no seperation :/

Finish or not?

I’ve taken it off my GoodReads for now and left it. I’ve got a lot of books to read and I’ve realised it’s nothing like the book I’m writing. I might pick it up again, I hate just not finishing them.

Sometimes I’m temped to just give them away but I’ve done that before and then wanted to read them. Or read a book hated it and the second time loved it (The Golden Compass).

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I’ve got a book about writing on Netgalley that I’m thinking about not finishing. But it’s Netgalley! I started reading it and it’s good but I just feel like I have a lot of books to read. I almost didn’t bother with Wakenhyrst and thought I should have a fresh start but it’s a book I don’t want to put down.

Mood. Tiredness. Reading other books I prefer. These are the reasons I seem to stop reading specific books. I need to read a certain book and start reading it but then don’t finish others. I also don’t like not finishing books and giving up on them.

What do you think about these books and my decision? What books have you not finished?

Month In Review

Books I read in April

This post could be called BOOKS I DIDN’T FINISH IN APRIL,  I had time off work too so no excuses, I seem to have more books started than books finished:

The Books I Finished

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I haven’t got around to writing the reviews for the first two yet. But I enjoyed both of them and was probably focused more on these books in April and they were so good I didn’t want to read anything else. I started reading Catcher In The Rye in March and finished it in April, my previous post was my review.

Books I’ve Started

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Dragonfly in Amber is book two of the Outlander series, I love it most of the time I can’t put it down. It’s a library copy. Wakenhyrst is one of the Netgalley books I’ve had since last year that I need to catch up on (and I’ve requested two more with a backlog!)

The Raven's Head

I started reading this too. I was enjoying it but then I was reading A Darker Shade of Magic and I lost interest in this book. This is from my tbr I’ve had it for two years. I just keep finding books I’m enjoying more. This will feature in a post next week about books I haven’t finished yet so I’m not going to say too much here.

Books I Need To Finish :/

Little Creepers

I started this book in March and I have one story left. It really is a creepy book. I got a copy from the author in exchange for a review and I shouldn’t finished it weeks ago but I didn’t want it to end. I’ve also been reading it in work so I usually take longer to read it. Distractions

From Story Idea to Reader

I’ve had this free ebook from Rosemary J. Kind to review also. But I don’t often find the time to listen. I think if I had the physical book I might’ve finished it by now. According to Audible I have four hours left to listen. It’s a really good informative book, I just need to finish it to review.

I did have another book on Netgalley to read to. More on that in my next post.

If I have to review a book then there is more urgency to read it and I feel bad if I don’t review things quickly. I’ve got one more book to read and review and a review to write for a blog tour in May.

I’m meant to be catching up with my books but I just seem to find more, it’s one of those things you know. Bookworms never learn and complain often 🙂 I’ll catch-up. No more Netgalley requests.

Share links to your month in review books and let me know if you’ve enjoyed these.