Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Free Book, Motivational, Non-Fiction

52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner Mariëlle S. Smith 4*#Review #Motivational #NonFiction #WorkBook #BlogBlitz #BookReview @rararesources

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be?

52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long.

52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for.

52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week.

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality?
  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks?
  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way?
  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer?

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you.

52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them.

If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.

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I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. The book is currently free on Amazon UK.

My Thoughts…

A clear inspirational workbook for writers who are struggling to achieve their aspirations. The content is full of inspirational quotes, practical planning measures and advice on goal setting. The guidance is reiterated each week, and the would-be writer is encouraged to check back at the end of the planning periods, which vary to see how they are doing, and then reassess their writing plans and goals.

To get the most out of this method of working you need to be willing to follow the guidelines exactly. There is a motivational foreword to the book. which bears re-reading frequently and online access to an interactive Facebook group.

The advice is good, but the onus is firmly on the individual to work daily towards their goals and to ensure they are realistic in the first place.

Interesting to read, and worth trying, especially since it is at time of this review free.

Marielle S Smith

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.

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Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Mystery on Hidden Lane Clare Chase 4*#Review @bookouture @ClareChase_ #MurderMystery #cozymystery #Suffolk #Village #Writer #amateursleuth

Meet Eve Mallow: an American far from home, a professional busybody… and an amateur detective?

Seasoned obituary writer Eve Mallow has a new assignment: to tell the life story of famed musician Bernard Fitzpatrick. A chance to spend a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus and meeting new people sounds like a dream. But it turns out that Bernard’s life was much less interesting than his death. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the charismatic cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled a few feathers. In fact, from the keepers of the Cross Keys Inn to his own staff at High House, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve becomes certain that one of the people she’s met must be the murderer. She has never done any detective work before… but is there something in her notes that can crack the case?

An unputdownable page-turner

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The essence of a good British murder mystery is an intelligent amateur sleuth. Good observational skills, an unassuming manner, which encourages confidences and an unbridled fearlessness, to confront, potentially dangerous people, and situations head-on. Writer Eve Mallow has these qualities.

Eve Mallow writes obituaries. An American, living in London, she is divorced, and her twins are now grown-up. She takes a job writing an obituary for a famous cellist and visits the Suffolk village where he lives to find out more about him.

Observant, she soon realises that this is not a straightforward death. Finding out her subject was murdered, draws her further into his previous life, to find the truth. She quickly endears herself to the villagers and begins to uncover some surprising revelations.

The setting is perfect for a murder mystery, unspoilt, picturesque, remote, with many unobserved places, perfect for committing murder. The cast of characters is complex, eccentric, and flawed. They are the sort you may find in any English village, which makes them relatable. The plot has twists and misinformation. and many suspects. The first victim had many unpalatable traits and so there is a veritable queue of people who may want him out of the way.

Eve is relentless in her investigation and willing to put herself at risk, unsurprisingly she solves the case. There is lots of scope in this series, both in terms of the protagonist and the setting, and I look forward to reading the next book.

Posted in Book Review

#BlogTour: The Pupil- Dawn Goodwin – 4* Review

 

Literary agent Viola Matthews is sure she’s met Katherine Baxter before. So when her husband and bestselling novelist Samuel Morton introduces Viola to the quiet, unassuming woman he has offered to mentor, she knows their paths have crossed before. The question is where?

As their worlds collide and the bond between Samuel and Katherine deepens, Viola realises she must take control. If Viola is right, then Katherine needs to pay for something that happened twelve years ago.

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My Thoughts…

Katherine is a realistic character, yet fulfils the role of unreliable protagonist associated with psychological thrillers. ‘The Pupil’ focuses on Katherine’s ambition to be a successful writer, she is in a controlling marriage and becoming a writer is her way of achieving independence and rising from the problems of the past.

There is suspense, but this is more of a family drama than a psychological thriller. The threat Katherine percieves appears to be visible only to her, which makes you question her mental state but it’s her husband’s treatment of her that is sinister and the real threat to her mental stability.

There are elements of dramatic irony in this, as the thinly disguised significant plot twist means the reader knows who Katherine’s enemy is, but she is oblivious until the final chapters.

A suspenseful read and an excellent family drama but not the twisty, psychological thriller I expected.

I received a copy of this book from Aria Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Dawn’s career has spanned PR, advertising and publishing. Now, she loves to write about the personalities hiding behind the masks, whether beautiful or ugly. Married, she lives in London with her two daughters and a British bulldog called Geoffrey. 

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Posted in Book Review

Best Friends Carys Jones: Blog Tour – Extract and 4* Review

Four friends, a terrible secret, and one week to stay alive…

Grace doesn’t have a family. That was taken away one dreadful day when she was just six, and her twin brother Peter was killed. Instead, she has her best friends and flatmates – Jasper, Franklin and Aaron – and nothing can tear them apart.

Living in London, and trying desperately to make a living, the four friends are rapidly running out of money and hope. So, when they find a discarded suitcase in a skip, they can’t believe their eyes when its contents seem to answer all their prayers.

But then there is a knock on their door, and a very disgruntled thug with revenge on his mind gives them one week to return his belongings, or they will pay with their lives. Soon the fractures in their friendships begin to show, and when one of them ends up fighting for his life, the stakes are raised even higher.

Will any of them get to the end of the week alive, or will the best of friends become the deadliest of enemies…

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mKlVg0

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2DMGC34

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2mMlsKp

iBooks: https://apple.co/2rk5pZN

Extract

Fifteen Years Later

It was raining. The streets of London were awash with water. It gathered in rivers beneath the kerb and dripped down from gutters. Grace stepped out of the tube station and smiled as the first wet drops splashed against her. She walked boldly down the street, head held high, savouring the sensation as the rain soaked through her thin trench coat and began to damply settle against her skin.

She moved as her name suggested – with poise and elegance. With the measured steps of a prowling cat, she wove her way through the congested street, dipping beneath low hanging umbrellas and skirting around the larger puddles. Grace was like the water; fluid with her motions and able to fit through the smallest gap. Her body was slight and lithe and when she walked her feet were always turned out, the tell-tale mark of a dancer.

To Grace the rain was glorious. She laughed to herself as she tilted her head up to meet the pewter sky above.

God’s tears.

That’s what her mother believed rain to be. And whenever the sky darkened she’d pluck the twins from their beloved swing set in the local park and hurry them back to their cramped flat. It was a sin to get wet.

“The sorrow,” she’d lament as she closed the curtains and turned up the heating, “you can’t let God’s tears and sorrow touch you else it’ll sink in.”

As she moved further away from the station, the bodies swarming along the street thinned and Grace was able to stretch out her arms. The rain washed against her, purifying and icy. Her hair that was held in a tidy bun became sodden, the tan shade of her coat darkened. Still, Grace dawdled, stretching out every step on her way back to her flat. She was never in a rush, especially when it rained.

“You’ll catch your death acting like that,” a stern-faced woman with a northern accent commented as she scurried past, shielded beneath her Radley umbrella. Grace wanted to laugh in the woman’s face. It was people who brought death, not water. But it wasn’t the stranger’s urge for caution, but her Manchester twang that made Grace begin to hurry home. She had once spoken with a similar cadence, but during her years spent at a prestigious ballet school, she’d learned to phase it out, adopting a more clipped, formal accent.

She didn’t need another reminder of home. Nor had she wanted to give the rest of the girls in her class another reason to see her as an outcast. Grace was already strange in their eyes. They came from homes with front doors, back gardens, places where parents came in pairs.

Up ahead a battered blue door flung open, and a handsome dark-haired guy burst out. He headed directly for Grace, extending his arms which made his long wool coat fan out behind him like a cloak.

“Jesus Christ,” he exclaimed as he reached her. “What have I told you about your damn rain fetish? Now get your ass inside.”

“I don’t have a fetish, Franklin,” Grace assured him as she followed him into the small communal hallway which led up to their two bedroom flat.

“Yes, you bloody do,” Franklin feverishly shook off the minuscule cluster of raindrops which had landed on him during his short time outside. He behaved like the dark clouds lingering over London were releasing acid rather than water. “Whenever it rains I find you swanning around outside like you think you’re Kate Bush. Now get in, hurry.”

“I am hurrying.” Grace ascended a steep staircase, made a sharp right turn and found her front door. It was of bare, unvarnished wood. She gently kicked the base, and it opened without protest. Franklin followed her inside and paused to secure the many deadbolts on the inner side of the door.

 My Thoughts…

Believable characters that are easy to empathise. A realistic, plot and a vibrant easy to imagine setting all make Best Friends worth reading. The pacing is perfect, and the internal and external conflict balance is good.

Four young adults share a small flat and face a constant battle of paying the rent without sacrificing their dreams. They are drawn together because of they are all artists, an actor, dancer, musician and writer. They all have something missing in their family lives, ranging from being different to their siblings to suffering years of unthinkable abuse as a child.  They are family, but this bond is tested when something they thought would be their salvation turns sour.

The friendship is tested to breaking point, but each of them face up to their fears and, finds something worthwhile from the traumatic two weeks they experience.  For me, the plot isn’t as exciting as the blurb suggested, but the character development and the conflict within the group make it worth reading.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Carys Jones loves nothing more than to write and create stories which ignite the reader’s imagination. Based in Shropshire, England, Carys lives with her husband, two guinea pigs and her adored canine companion Rollo.

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Posted in Book Review, New Books, Release Day Spotlight

5* Review: Quintessentially Yours – Linn B. Halton

quintessentially-yours-medBlurb - CoastalJames Kingman’s world just got complicated. The love of his life, Katherine Dale, has just given birth to their first child. His troublesome business manager, Phillipa, is sexually harassing him at work. His boss proposes a partnership which would double his workload. With so much on his plate, how will James cope?
Plagued by the unexpected exhaustion of having a baby who suffers from colic, he tries his best to hold his family together. Despite growing up without a mother and a neglectful father, James is a natural-born father. Katherine, however, is struggling. Dejected and rejected, Katherine battles with her hormones as her writing career begins to slip away from her. She not only doubts her capabilities as a writer but as a mother too. Katherine confides in James’ boss, the enigmatic and world-famous astrologer, Mark Ainsley-Thomas, and he puts her in touch with his agent.
Things start to look up for the writer, as her latest work attracts attention from several publishers, but her trips to Mark’s hotel attract attention too… Suspicion is aroused and photographs are snapped.
Is there any truth to last year’s rumours of an affair between the pair?
If not, then why is Katherine visiting Mark in secret?
Will James be able to resist the advances of his seductive colleague?
Will the tangled trio be able to avoid scandal in the stars?

Buy Links  - Coastal Amazon UK

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My Review - Coastal

Quintessentially YoursThe title ‘Quintessentially Yours’ sums up the ethos of this lovely story perfectly.

Katherine’s romantic bubble has burst in all aspects of her life and she is understandably shell shocked. James finds this needy Katherine, something of a challenge, although he shows his true worth by plugging all the holes in their daily life; whilst helping Katherine rediscover her sense of self-worth. James has his own demons to conquer as he adjusts to life as a new father.

Again the support characters are interesting and provide important insight into the story of our star-crossed couple. Mark’s life also loses its status quo and Katherine manages to forget her own worries, to provide him with the support he so obviously needs.

There are unexpected twists and a charming mix of humour and poignancy. Although a sequel to ‘Under the Stars’, this story is complete. An enjoyable read, even if you haven’t discovered the delights of ‘Under the Stars’ yet.

‘Quintessentially Yours’, is a tale of everyday life and people with just enough added sparkle to make it the perfect read to escape your own life for a little while.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

Quintessentially Yours by Linn B. Halton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Quintessentially Yours by Linn B. Halton

Read my review of Under the Stars by clicking on the image below

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Poppy - Author BioIMG_3069Bristol-born Linn B. Halton lives in the small village of Lydbrook, which nestles on the edge of the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her husband and feline with ‘catitude’- Mr Tiggs.
Linn began writing in March 2009 and her debut novel was published in February 2011. In a recent interview Linn was asked about genres:
“From a very young age I knew romantic fiction was always going to be my genre. I am, and will always be, madly in love with love! Whether that’s love of life, a partner, or the things I’m passionate about.
My stories are about love, life and real relationships – but romance is always the one thing that holds each story together. Often there’s a light, psychic touch and I never dreamed I would write drawing upon my personal psychic experiences. But as my interest and understanding in the subject has grown, it is now such a part of my life that it finds its way into my fictional tales. However, what is heartening is that most of my experiences have been uplifting and it’s wonderful to know loved ones are around me always. I hope it will make readers stop and wonder ‘What if?’
The result is that I get a lot of mail from readers who have had similar experiences and some are sharing theirs for the first time with me. I always feel that’s something rather special and for which I’m very grateful.”
Love, life and beyond… but it’s ALWAYS about the romance!

Linn is published by Choc Lit, HarperImpulse, Endeavour Press and Sapphire Star Publishing.
Linn is also the managing editor of Loveahappyending Lifestyle emagazine.
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Linn B. Halton

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Posted in Book Review, New Books

5* Review: Under the Stars – Linn B. Halton

25578022
Blurb - CoastalKatherine Dale’s life is in a state of chaos. She has just been made redundant from her job as an accountant and she finds herself with no career, no direction in life and no relationship to fall back on.

To make matters worse, the one thing that she could always depend on – genius astrological readings from her idol, Mark Ainsley-Thomas – is even beginning to fail her.

At a crossroads in her life and starting a career as a full-time writer, Katherine cannot believe that the readings from the world-renowned astrologist are failing to guide her through this tumultuous time.

She sends an email to Mark’s webpage, venting her frustration at the recent unhelpful readings.

Little does Katherine know that Mark’s busy publicity schedule and his overbearing agent are taking over his life and that he has hired an assistant astrologist, James, to take over the readings.

James, returning to astrology after a failed business career and disastrous marriage, is also at a vulnerable stage in his life and reacts angrily when he receives Katherine’s emails criticising his work.

Their heated email exchange reveals the frustrations in both their lives but the reappearance of Mark Ainsley-Thomas helps to smooth this friction over, and Katherine and James begin a tentative friendship which soon blossoms into something much more.

Katherine, James and Mark realise just how small the world is when their complicated lives become forever entangled.

Amidst the chaos of their lives, including a cat named No. 4, a local writing group, a difficult ex, an old war veteran named Jake, a potential book deal and a last-minute trip to LA, will there ever be a happy ever after for Katherine and James…?

Buy Links  - Coastal Amazon
Amazon UKMy Review - Coastal

Under The Stars‘Under the Stars’ is a gentle, often humorous story about newly redundant Katherine. Struggling to see her career disaster as an opportunity, she needs the support of her personal horoscopes, which are uncharacteristically confusing. Feeling alone and cheated she is forced to widen her support circle. Katherine is not in a good place but her self-depreciating humour, lack of self- esteem and willingness to help others, soon endears her to the reader.

James’ life appears blighted by failure. Standing in for resident astrological genius Mark is something to pay the bills, whilst he evaluates his life. The scene is set for a fateful meeting and a roller-coaster of an emotional ride, for our unlikely couple.

The pacing is steady and lets you appreciate the beautifully crafted characters, which enhance the love story and make it special. No 4, Katherine’s feline companion is a delight and so true to life, the nuances of cat behaviour captured perfectly. The animated, realistic supporting cast, make this a really interesting, worthwhile read with a happy, romantic ending. I can’t wait to read ‘Quintessentially Yours’ to find out what happens next.

I won a copy of this book from the author in a giveaway.

Under The Stars by Linn B. Halton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Under The Stars by Linn B. Halton

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Posted in Book Review, Writing Journey

Can Authors Be Book Reviewers Too?

Book Reviewer I’m a regular reader of Kristen Lamb’s Blog , her posts are full of useful information about writing and social media and her anecdotes are amusing.  Last week I read her post entitled ‘Three NEVERS of Social Media for Writers’ , it’s an interesting post  and one I recommend you read. The three ‘nevers’ appeared commonsense to me but a point she made in the ‘Never Write Bad Book Reviews’ ‘Our BRAND is AUTHOR, not “book reviewer”.’,was thought-provoking and got me thinking.

DSCN1097In her post, she refers us to an earlier blog post; ‘Is it FAIR for Authors to Review other Authors? Do we ruin the Magic?’ so I read this too.

Briefly, it examines the differences between critique and review. Paraphrased,  it asks the question,  do writers know too much about the logistics of story writing and risk unmasking the illusion that all story tellers weave, if they review books?

I personally don’t read reviews before I read a novel or watch a TV programme. I didn’t even before I wrote. I like to make my own mind up. Reviews for every product and service are popular now with the growth of e-commerce and many people like to read reviews before they read the book.

WellnessBadgebadge_80In a saturated market ,reviews seem key to a book’s success. It’s the quantity not the quality of the reviews that appears to sell books and that’s a shame but not something that’s likely to change.

If a writer reviews a book without allowing themselves to be immersed in the fiction,seeing only the mechanics of story’s creation. Any negative comments on point of view, grammar or flow they make, are likely to shatter the creative illusion for other readers.

My Review -1All reviews, like everything else in the publishing world, are subjective, an opinion. Useful reviews shouldn’t contain many if any ‘spoilers’ and should highlight the story’s positives.

DSCN1091I don’t offer a critique or review as a writer. I’m new to writing but I’m a reader of almost 50 years 🙂 I read  fiction and I reviewed over 130 books in 2014. I review the story and how it effects me. The feedback on my reviews from other readers and authors is usually positive. They find them useful and surely that’s a good thing?

Mystery Thriller My ReviewSo to answer my original question ‘Can Authors be Book Reviewers too?’One of the points Kristen makes is that there is a  conflict of interest. Authors that are book reviewers risk alienating their peers if they give critical reviews. Or their reviews are full of platitudes, so’s not to offend.

It’s a fine line to walk certainly, but I rarely find a book that I can’t say something positive about. You don’t have to be unkind. If you can only find a few positives, the review is short.The inference is, the book wasn’t for you but you are offering an opinion in positive terms, whilst still being honest. If  I find a book I don’t like, I don’t finish it and don’t review it.

Most authors that are also book reviewers, do it because they enjoy it. If that makes me less cutting edge, as an author that’s fine  I write because I love it and book reviews are writing too.DSCN1366DSCN1380

What do you think?