I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
I enjoyed reading this activity workbook on creative reading for children of 7 years upwards. The writing style is informal and motivational, using language that will appeal to the book’s target audience. The book is divided into sections, detailing the main areas of creative writing, and there are easy to understand, but engaging tasks to complete within each section.
Although this book is intended for children, it contains good advice that will be useful to any novice creative writer whatever their age.
I read a PDF version of the book, but if the workbook is to be used regularly, a paperback version may be more appropriate.
Lexi Rees writes action-packed adventures for children. As well as the Creative Writing Skills workbook, the first book in The Relic Hunters Series, Eternal Seas, was awarded a “loved by” badge from LoveReading4Kids and is currently longlisted for a Chanticleer award. The sequel, Wild Sky, will be published in November.
not writing, she’s usually covered in straw or glitter, and frequently both.
‘Writing Fiction is a little
pot of gold… Screenplay by Syd
Field for film, Writing Fiction
by James Essinger for fiction. It’s that simple.’
novelist and screenwriter
Fiction – a user-friendly guide is a must-read if you want to write stories to a professional standard.
It draws on the author’s more
than thirty years of experience as a professional writer, and on the work and
ideas of writers including:
Martin Cruz Smith
The twenty-four chapters cover every important matter you need to know about, including devising a compelling story, creating and developing characters, plotting, ‘plants’, backstory, suspense, dialogue, ‘show’ and ‘tell’, and how to make your novel more real than reality.
Also featuring special guest advice from legendary screenwriter Bob Gale, who wrote the three immortal Back to the Future movies (1985, 1989 and 1990), and novelist and screenwriter William Osborne, whose many screen credits include the co-writing of the blockbuster Twins (1988), this highly entertaining book gives you all the advice and practical guidance you need to make your dream of becoming a published fiction writer come true.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
What I like about this non-fiction guide, to writing fiction is that is presented in a logical easy to use way. Beginning, with what the author considers fiction to be. Moving through a chapter by chapter guide to the fundamentals of fiction writing, with examples of why they are important, with input from industry professionals.
It covers a wide spectrum of fiction, and includes interesting analogies with screenwriting. This isn’t a workbook. There are examples, but no specific exercises for new writers to judge their content by. However, as an overall guide, and a useful reference book, for fiction writers, learning, or perfecting their craft it works.
The tone of the book is motivational, and the author’s experience and knowledge of the publishing industry are evident.
James Essinger has been a professional writer since 1988. His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).
In 1919, in the wake of the First World War, a group of extraordinary women came together to create the Women s Engineering Society. They were trailblazers, pioneers and boundary breakers, but many of their stories have been lost to history. To mark the centenary of the society’s creation, Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines brings them back to life.
Their leaders were Katharine and Rachel Parsons, wife and daughter of the engineering genius Charles Parsons, and Caroline Haslett, a self-taught electrical engineer who campaigned to free women from domestic drudgery and became the most powerful professional woman of her age. Also featured are Eleanor Shelley-Rolls, sister of car magnate Charles Rolls; Viscountess Rhondda, a director of thirty-three companies who founded and edited the revolutionary Time and Tide magazine; and Laura Willson, a suffragette and labour rights activist from Halifax, who was twice imprisoned for her political activities.
This is not just the story of the women themselves, but also the era in which they lived. Beginning at the moment when women in Britain were allowed to vote for the first time, and to stand for Parliament and when several professions were opened up to them Magnificent Women charts the changing attitudes towards women in society and in the workplace.
I received a copy of this book from Unbounders in return for an honest review.
2019 marks the centenary for the Women’s Engineering Society, which was created by seven women in 1919. Partly created, in response to a reactionary parliamentary bill, and to reinforce the employment inroads women achieved during WW1. The Women’s Engineering Society wanted the women who had kept Britain working during the WW1, to continue in their chosen engineering and manufacturing roles. They also encouraged more women to enter engineering as a career. Given the small proportion of women enjoying a university or technical education, this was an ambitious aim. Women’s rights and choice were also at the forefront of the Women’s Engineering Society’s aims. Many of the founders came from prominent engineering families, but their social class was diverse.
The book follows the accomplishments and life events of the two most active women in the organisation; Rachel Parsons, daughter of a famous engineer, and Caroline Haslett, a dedicated suffragette. This personal element in the book draws the reader in and makes the achievements and sacrifices relatable.
The book is written in an engaging easy to read style, which makes the events, people and social ethos of the twentieth century come to life. Divided into chapters which explore significant individuals, their achievements and inventions, it is easy to dip in and out of and use for reference. However, the potential and vibrancy of this period in history for women, make this addictive reading.
The cover and images contained within the book, support the narrative well. The reader is given a good sense of the time period, social ethos and economic climate and the uphill struggle women faced in their battle for economic equality.
The final chapter lists notable events and inventions for women in the twentieth- century and is the perfect hopeful conclusion to inspire women engineers in the twenty-first-century.
Henrietta Heald is the author of William Armstrong, Magician of the No rt h which was shortlisted for the H. W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize and the Portico Prize for non-fiction. She was chief editor of Chronicle of Britain and Irela n d and Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Britain’s Coast. Her other books include Coastal Living, La Vie est Belle, and a National Trust guide.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Written by a successful writer, ‘Motivation Matters’, is an inspirational motivation workbook, full of exercises that you can incorporate into your everyday life, to make it a little different, and stimulate your intrinsic motivation for writing. You have to want to write, it has to make you feel good, and this book gives you the tools to reawaken your inner motivation towards your writing.
Personally, I am drawn to this book because I struggle with my inner motivation to write novels. I write every day for my blog and read avidly, always prioritising this in my life. Despite having written three published books, I struggle to find regular time to complete the two stories, I have unfinished. So, starting this book I’m looking for techniques that will give me the motivation to write my books every day like I write my blogs.
The book is interactive and user-friendly, after a brief introductory chapter, it jumps into the exercises. The second chapter asks what motivates us? It demonstrates how, through change, and looking at everyday things differently, we can stimulate the motivation process within us.
The author provides you with an exercise a day, and one extra. I read this through like a book, absorbing some of the ideas, and trying some of them. Ideally, it should be used as a workbook, something to dip into regularly to top up your creativity. You may have favourite exercises here, but mix them up try something new. The ethos behind this process is that change stimulates creativity.
The exercises stimulate your creative brain, so once completed you should want to write, don’t put it off, or the exercise’s motivational properties are wasted. This is the hardest thing for me. I realise I already do a good proportion of the things mentioned here, but I don’t immediately write following them, I must.
The exercises are individual but grouped into chapters to allow you to work on particular areas, for example releasing your inner creativity, observing your world and different worlds. The key is honing your observational skills and changing your environment to give your creativity more scope.Downtime is important, but you need you to use what you learn in your writing.
This book isn’t something you read once and reap the benefits, it is designed to change you. So you need to regularly reinforce the messages it relays if they are beneficial for you. I like it, and I am going to see what it does for me, and my fictional writing.
The key messages I take away from my initial reading are, use what you observe, to make your writing realistic and relevant, change something every day to stimulate your creativity, set yourself goals, something to work towards, and find your balance of active and cerebral to make your writing part of your life, something you want to do.
I will follow up this review, to share how I get on.
Award-Winning Author Wendy H. Jones lives in Scotland, and her police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Shona McKenzie is set in the beautiful city of Dundee, Scotland. Wendy has led a varied and adventurous life. Her love for adventure led to her joining the Royal Navy to undertake nurse training. After six years in the Navy, she joined the Army where she served as an Officer for a further 17 years. This took her all over the world including Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Much of her spare time is now spent travelling around the UK and lands much further afield. As well as nursing Wendy also worked for many years in Academia. This led to publication in academic textbooks and journals. Killer’s Countdown is her first novel and the first book in the Shona McKenzie Mystery series. Killer’s Crew won the Books Go Social Book of the Year 2107. There are now six books in this series with Killer’s Crypt being released in August 2017. The Dagger’s Curse is the first book in The Fergus and Flora Mysteries for Young Adults. This book is currently shortlisted for the Woman Alive Magazine Readers Choice Award Book of the Year. She is also a highly successful marketer and she shares her methods in the book, Power Packed Book Marketing.
High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more
so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the
Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.
It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane
through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun
rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself
at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a
hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyoncé
channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.
Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.
I received a copy of this book from Eye Books in return for an honest review.
The cover of this book draws you in, it is vibrant and interesting and makes you want to see what’s inside.
The book is in two parts, the first associated with the meeting with the Austrian Oshun priestess in Africa, and the second with other worshipers in Florida. The professional writing style is easy reading, even if some of the content, especially in the second part is complex. The prose reads like a fictional story, full of vivid imagery, authentic characters and amazing content and events. Its historical details provide a believable setting for the diaries and it resonates.
The African experience is insightful and political, it gives meaning to some of the headlines of the time that I recall. The meeting with the charismatic, dedicated priestess, is enthralling, and it is a page-turning read.
The second part of the book is equally as honest and detailed, this is where the author truly understands what she is exploring. It is an interesting read, with the first part with its astute political comment, is the best part of the book.
A recommended read, if you enjoy adventure, culture and spiritual experiences.
Guest Post – Diane Esguerra – Goddess for the #MeToo Era
Looking for a ballsy, bewitching goddess with green credentials to follow? Then look no further: Oshun, the ancient river goddess of the Yoruba people of West Africa, is the one for you.
Sure, there are plenty of cool female deities around to choose from – if goddess worship is what you’re into. Amaterasu No Kami, the Japanese Goddess of the Sun and theAborigine Holy Goddess Mumuna -Who-Made-Us-All, have sizeable followings. Even old favourites like the European Great Mother and Diana and Isis the ancient deities of Rome and Egypt still appeal to a surprising number. So, what is it about Oshun that makes her so special?
Well, for a start she’s not only a goddess of love but also of female empowerment. And she’s prepared to defend to the death women’s right to be respected by men and treated as their equals. If she sees them being given a hard time her anger can be volcanic. Yet with her love of gold, honey, bathing and carrying a mirror around to admire her beauty, Oshun is quintessentially feminine and proud of her abundant sensuality.
She’s a hard worker, too, who played a key role in the Yoruba creation myth. According to the legend, primordial male gods pushed aside the female ones – including Oshun – and decided they would go about creating the earth themselves. They failed miserably. Oshun set herself up as the ringleader of the female deities and protested vigorously on their behalf to the chief deity, Olodumare. He/She gave the order that the female deities should be given the chance to have a go at creation, too. And as it turned out they made a much better job of it, and the earth as we know it came into being.
Indeed, the chief divinity was so impressed with Oshun’s efforts that He/She issued an oracle to the effect that only stupid people think a woman won’t amount to anything in life, and that negative language should never be used against women. The divinity even goes so far as to say that men should kneel and prostrate themselves before women as they have to shoulder the massive responsibility of giving birth to humankind.
Compare this respectful, life-affirming ancient African myth to the creation myth in the bible. Here, not only is Eve held responsible for tempting Adam, and therefore triggering humanity’s fall from grace, God also decides to make her well and truly suffer for it – giving the green light to the patriarchal societies that inevitably followed:
To the woman, he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain, you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:14-16)
While we’re on the subject of children, Oshun is also a fertility goddess who has the power to grant them. During the annual Oshun Festival which is held in the goddess’s birthplace – the Sacred Groves of Oshogbo in Oshun State, Nigeria – women come from as far away as China in search of a cure for infertility.
Nature is deemed precious in Oshun’s Sacred Groves. Hunting is forbidden, fishing too – even the trees can’t be chopped about. Woe betide the person who attempts to do so!
To get a closer idea of how this goddess might appear in human form look no further than Beyoncé. The most famous black female singer on the planet once appeared at the Grammy’s channelling the goddess. This multi-talented, beautiful and sensuous woman isn’t afraid to speak out for women’s rights and against injustice. And in the video which accompanies the track Hold Up on her Lemonade album, she writhes around and levitates in water before emerging in torrents of it and descending a long flight of steps in a golden gown. She then proceeds to roam the neighbourhood smashing open fire hydrants with a baseball bat in Oshun-like anger at her husband Jay Z’s alleged infidelity.
But you don’t have to be a famous singer to tap into the power of this very special goddess. Dress yourself in yellow or gold, light a candle, place a few of Oshun’s favourite items nearby: a bowl of water; a mirror; peacock feathers; honey; a couple of oranges, and then summon the goddess with the following incantation: Yeye, Ye Ye O…Yeye, Ye Ye O…Oshun.
Sit back and enjoy!
Diane Esguerra is an English writer and psychotherapist. For a number of years, she worked as a performance artist in Britain, Europe and the United States, and she has written for theatre and television. She is the recipient of a Geneva-Europe Television Award and a Time Out Theatre Award. She is previously the author of Junkie Buddha, the uplifting story of her journey to Peru to scatter her late son’s ashes.
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What happens when pregnancy and the first few weeks of a baby’s life don’t go as planned? How have advances in modern medicine and perinatal genetics redefined our perceptions of what is possible?
The First Breath by Olivia Gordon is a powerful medical memoir about the extraordinary fetal and neonatal medicine bringing today’s babies into the world. Unveiling the intense patient-doctor relationship at work with every birth, this book reflects on the cutting-edge medicine that has saved a generation of babies, the combination of love and fear a parent feels for a child they haven’t yet met and what can happen before a baby’s first breath.
Olivia Gordon was twenty-nine weeks pregnant when a scan found that her baby was critically ill. Thanks to a risky operation in utero and five months in neonatal care, her son survived.
The First Breath is the first popular science book to tell the story of the fast developing fields of fetal and neonatal medicine. It explores motherhood and the female experience of medicine through Olivia’s personal story and sensitive, intimate case histories of other mothers’ high-risk births.
The First Breath asks what it means to become the mother of a child who would not have survived birth only a generation ago, showing how doctors and nurses save the most vulnerable lives and how medicine has developed to make it possible for these lives to even begin.
I received a copy of this from Pan Macmillan – Bluebird via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The story, this book tells is amazing, the sheer scope of the medical advancement, over the last twenty years is well documented here. It’s not just about the science, and the pioneering doctors, there is also the unashamedly human side to this story. The personal experiences of the author, and the mothers, fathers, doctors and nurses interviewed by her.
The balance of facts and case studies is good. The science is complex and will not suit everyone, but it is written, in an easy to understand way, and illuminated by personal experience. The ethical side of this medical advancement isn’t ignored, as the reader is presented with both the facts and the human outcomes.
The experiences of the parents, particularly the mothers, is the best part of the book for me. They are courageous, honest and inspiring.
To celebrate this, Shari Low has taken a baby wipe to the glossy veneer of the school of perfect parenting and written Because Mummy Said So to show us the truth about motherhood in all of its sleep-deprived, frazzled glory.
This is a book that every experienced, new or soon-to-be parent will relate to – well, hallelujah and praise be those who worship at the temple of Febreze. For over a decade, Shari wrote a hugely popular weekly newspaper column documenting the ups, downs and bio-hazardous laundry baskets of family life.
Because Mummy Said So is a collection of her favourite stories of parenting, featuring superheroes in pull up pants, embarrassing mistakes, disastrous summer holidays, childhood milestones, tear-jerking nativity plays, eight bouts of chickenpox and many, many discussions that were finished with the ultimate parental sticky situation get-out clause…
If reincarnation does in fact exist, can I please make a special request to come back as Julia Roberts? The lovely Julia was pictured last week leaving a Pilates class with her six-week-old twins. It was a sweet, precious and intimate snapshot of domestication: just Julia, her husband, her babies, and an army of helpers so large it could have invaded a small country.
Ladies, how many things are wrong with that scenario? Well, for a start, when my babies were six weeks old I couldn’t find my way out of my dressing gown, never mind into a wee Juicy Couture tracky for a jaunt up the leisure centre.
Secondly, the gilded A-lister was partaking in the practice of evil: an exercise class. Doesn’t she know that there’s an unwritten rule among the sisterhood (or should that be motherhood)? For at least two months – or in my case, years – after childbirth, we’re supposed to milk the memory of the physical trauma we’ve inflicted on our bodies by endeavouring at all times to have our feet in an elevated position and our mouths in close proximity to a chocolate snack. It’s the law.
And thirdly – and this is the real killer – Team Julia was carrying everything for her. She didn’t have a bulk-size box of Huggies strapped to her back. There were no bottles of milk dribbling up the arm of her jumper as she attempted to juggle baby, bag and feeding equipment. And she wasn’t within projectile-vomit range of either of her newborns.
That’s not motherhood, it’s a holiday.
While Miss Roberts gets the five-star, deluxe version of motherhood, this week I’ve been subjected to the self-catering, dodgy plumbing and offensive odours version. In the latest episode of my oh-so-glamorous life, I decided it was time for almost-three-year-old Brad to lose the nappies.
For those of you who are just tucking into a wee cup of tea and a bacon roll, I’ll spare you the details. But let’s just say that disinfectant spray became my very best friend. On the first day of Brad’s nappy liberation, I spent the whole time on my hands and knees contemplating puddles. Who knew children that small could store that much water? My second-born son is the toddler equivalent of a Saharan camel.
By lunchtime, I was soaked, exhausted and could feel the thud of my will to live tunnelling to freedom.
Worse, Brad was getting thoroughly sceptical about my promise that ‘Big Boys Pants’ would give him supernatural powers. Hopefully, one of which would be the ability to control his bladder.
Never has my familiar prima-donna war cry, ‘I bet Jackie Collins doesn’t have to put up with this pish!’ had a more literal meaning.
At four o’clock, wet, smelling of Eau de Sewer and covered in stains that I didn’t even want to think about, I speed-dialled the husband for moral support. It didn’t go well.
‘Hi, honey, having a good day?’ he had the absolute temerity to ask.
A GOOD DAY? Aaargh!
Yes, I know the poor man was only being polite but in my pee-soaked brain that somehow became a patronising comment from a smug bloke sitting in a comfy chair, in a civilised office, having conversations with other adults that consisted of words of more than one syllable, all the while partaking of hot and cold running bloody cappuccinos.
How dare he!
I slammed the phone down in disgust. I didn’t say I was rational. I’m a mother of two toddlers – that’s not in the job description.
Next day, over breakfast I was mulling over my dilemmas for the day: whether donning waterproof clothing was an overreaction, whether Dettox was available in gallon-size tubs and how to convince my husband that we didn’t, in fact, require a marriage guidance counsellor. So absorbed was I in my woes that I didn’t notice that Brad had left the table for a far comfier seat – one atop the porcelain throne. Yes, my wee angel had finally mastered the concept of waste management.
Overjoyed, I had an irresistible compulsion to call the One O’Clock News team to announce the thrilling news: Brad was toilet-trained. There’s only one downside – his aim isn’t brilliant. But then, I’ve never met a grown man who doesn’t share that problem, so I’m guessing it’s a gender thing.
There’s obviously a limit to the supernatural powers of Big Boy Pants.
Candid snapshots of life with children are popular at the moment, what makes this one different is that it is retrospective. A collection of thoughts that featured in the author’s column at the time ranging from 2004 -2017. Some of the people and events mentioned will bring back memories and add entertainment value to these amusing anecdotes about parenting and being a working mum.
This book is a fun-filled read for all parents, and its innate honesty is part of its charm. Being the perfect mummy, while holding down a full-time job was a mantra in the nineties, and the first decade of the twenty-first century, thankfully this stereotype has been ousted in recent years by a more realistic view of parenting which this book certainly showcases.
It’s worth reading because its funny, realistic, thought-provoking and poignant and given that many of the stories started in the early noughties a true original that has sparked the honest parenting blogs and books that currently are an important part of our culture.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Shari Low has published eighteen books under her own name and pseudonyms Millie Conway and Ronni Cooper. She is also one half of the writing duo, Shari King. She lives near Glasgow with her husband, two teenagers and a labradoodle.