Tuesday 16 April 2024

Review: Deep In The Shadows, by Amanda JK.

Deep In The ShadowsDeep In The Shadows by Amanda JK
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a quick read - unless you want to linger over the tweet-length collections of micro-fiction within. And really you should because there is plenty to devour.

They have been gathered in sections by genre, though the majority are dark. I like how Amanda is able to convey emotion or a story in these tiny bite-sized nibbles. I especially like her dark horror bites; they grip you in just a second, and leave you pondering.

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Review: Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E Fiest

Flight of the Nighthawks  (The Darkwar Saga, #1)Flight of the Nighthawks by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a life-long fan of Raymond Fiest's books, and all the stories in Midkemia too. It had been a while since I have read one, and that made this book challenging and it referred constantly to previous storylines, some of which I could remember parts of but not all.

This is the first of the Darkwar Saga and was really just setting up the storyline and plot and going over all the characters and their history, some of it eluded to rather than fully explained. The moments of action in this were the most enjoyable parts and went past fast.

The writing is good, though I do feel that the storyline lacked a lot of originality and felt repetitive of previous books, and I was surprised to find very obvious typos in several chapters all the way through. For a big publishing house, they're maybe not paying their proofreaders enough!

I will still recommend Fiest's books, because as I say, this is setting up for a lengthy saga and just reacquanting the reader with the world and characters.

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Tuesday 19 March 2024

Review: Mrs. Stockley's Parrot, by Michael Wombat

Mrs. Stockley's ParrotMrs. Stockley's Parrot by Michael Wombat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michael Wombat is one of my favourite authors. I enjoy his writing style and his brilliant stories, and this collection doesn't disappoint. It's full of ordinary as well as extraordinary tales. As always Michael writes across genres, so you will find some unique concepts in the fantasy sci-fi genre, a little bit of horror, suspense and even a touch of romance. They run the whole gamut.

My favourite is Mrs Venturey, speculating on who Jack The Ripper was, with a kicker of an ending. I also loved Escape Pod and The Rendelsham Forest Incident, both brilliant, unique and contrasting sci-fi fantasy concepts. And Love Me Do is a really enjoyable tale, which maybe because I live in Holland and it has a Dutch touch in it, but I also liked the idea of dead parents still match-making.

If you like an ecelectic mix of story ideas, I definitely recommend it.

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Saturday 2 March 2024

Do you leave book reviews?

Did you know only 1% of readers review books? 

I'm a member of a local bookclub where there are around six or seven regulars that don't leave reviews. I try and encourage them, but even though they all read a lot of books they don't really consider doing it. And for the big bookseller lists (which they mostly choose their books from), those have been sent out to hundreds of authorised reviewers and other famous authors, and so already hundreds of reviews before they've even been released, so why bother? 

But for an indie authors, like me, it makes all the difference.

I get it - every time you buy something on line you get an email asking you for a review now, and it gets tiresome. I delete a lot of those emails too, unless it's something I feel strongly about. But on most book selling sites, reviews increase a book's visibility. After so many reviews the system's algorithm pick it up and promote it. And for indie authors like me who don't have the money publishing houses do to buy their way onto bookseller lists, ever single one counts.

Myth Busting: leaving a review doesn't mean you have to write an essay. Just one line saying whether you liked it or not is enough, or failing that, leave a rating.

If you want to help an author without spending any money, please consider leaving a review. 🙏

Monday 12 February 2024

Review: Red Valentine by Michael Wombat

Red Valentine: Disturbing love stories for grown-ups (Red Wombats)Red Valentine: Disturbing love stories for grown-ups by Michael Wombat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a little bias because I love Michael Wombat's writing, and it doesn't matter what he writes, I know I will love it. He is such a master of words and vocabulary and describes things in ways no one else can.

In this collection of love stories, some of which are brief, the reader enjoys all sorts of tales, some comical, some historical, some about new love, some sad, and many deadly. There's something for everyone in this collection.

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Thursday 18 January 2024

Review: The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

The Woman in MeThe Woman in Me by Britney Spears
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Britney for years. She has great energy and I have a couple of her albums. There was always an edge of naivety to her, but the way her own family have taken advantage of that and used and abused her is incredible! And only in America would it be legal to enslave someone!

Her father should be in prison. I can't believe he's not being prosecuted and doing time. How did a judge not see straight through this? Tell a court she's incapacitated so you get power of attorney over all her wealth & also her body autonomy. But then force her to work & go on tour year after year & at a non-stop show in vegas for 3 years using threats and bullying, constant survellance and manhandling by 'security guards'. Constantly use the threat of never letting her see her children to get her to do this. If she acted out or resisted too much he put in a facility. The last time he did that they kept her drugged on Lithium for 3 months.

If she is SO incapacited to need such a 'conservatorship' how come she is able to perform so many shows? How did the judge who agreed to all this not realise that - her shows were worldwide knowledge. And those children, who were taken off her by her ex, who got full custody of them when they were just 5 months & 18months. He'd spent next to no time with them prior to this. How was Britney so wholely unsupported?

And all this came about because she was devastated about a break up and losing her children, and she acted out - unfortunately publically, though for you and I we could have done that - gone and had our heads shaved - and no one would have noticed! The paparazzi are again to blame in another person's downfall because of their inability to respect a person and their privacy. They made her a spectacle, the media judging her, the public deciding she was unfit, thus allowing her father to step in and imprison and abused her for thirteen years. This would be unbelieve if it was written in a ficton novel. If they had left her alone, it might not have gone so far. There really need to be laws put in place over this kind of stalking, pestering and haranguing.

Britney only got out thanks to fans who realised what was going on & fed her info - like that despite what her father said she WAS allowed to choose her own lawyer. Something a judge should have done in the beginning - speak to her and make sure she knew here rights!

Did the judge not look at the family history here? Britney's parents divorced due to her father's violence when she was a child but reconciled when they started benefitting from her wealth - she bought then house & cars. Even her mother was complicit. People have been sent to prison for less.

I'm so glad she is free now, and able to get her sense of self back. I think she's incredible for still being able to share it all with us in this book.

In terms of the actual writing, the first few chapters were badly written, as though someone had been given notes and not made any embellishments to them. It didn't flow at all. I don't know if Britney DID write this herself, but if she had a ghost writer (which is usually the case) they didn't do a great job in that respect - though I did get a sense of Britney's voice from about the third chapter on. But a developmental editing team should have picked that up.

In parts it does feel repetitive, but in some ways I feel it was the only way to give the reader a true sense of the repeated horror of this situation. And there are a lot of people who get mentioned and it's not really clear who they are or how they came into Britney's world.

If she is someone who interests you, definitely worth a read.

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Wednesday 3 January 2024

Review: YellowFace by R F Kuang

YellowfaceYellowface by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read this for my up coming bookclub meeting, and have to say I was gripped and read it super fast for me! It helps that I'm a writer who used to live on Twitter, so this crosses both worlds I 'lived' in, but this book made me beyond grateful that I'm a self-published author.

It covers the idea of plagerism. The book is written in first person point of view, by the person that stole a book - from a friend, who they witnessed the death of. It's full of moral ambiguity, as it also shows the dirty underbelly of true trolling within the publishing industry as well as by bystanders and also uses the whole 'culture appropriation by white people' narrative too.

It's a boiling hotch-potch of all these topics, and shows how someone can be torn down so easily by those that are jealous of another's success - and yet the person torn down was also jealous of another's success - like the snake eating its own tail.

It also shows the dark underbelly of publishing and the 'next best thing' and how authors have to write to market if they want to make any money. Money is very much alluded to in this book but numbers are never given, which I think is always a shame. Publishing is really about making money off another person's back. An elite set of people in large publishing houses gets to decide who will be successful and rich and who won't. I found it fascinating, but also wondered how much was exaggerated and how much was true.

I'm interested how the other readers in my bookclub found this book being as none of them are writers and never use twitter. I wonder if it might have gone above their heads.

I enjoyed it, others might not. But it's fast paced and well written.

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Review: Nation, by Terry Pratchett

NationNation by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Terry Pratchett. I have all his books and read the majority of them - and not just discworld - but I struggled with this book. I found it hard to get into and very slow. It was interesting but felt like a pirate book really.

I wonder at the time of reading it compared to the when it was written. The concept of end of the world from tidal waves and the remaining populous reforming with various cultural differences and how that might look has altered since its time of publication in 2008. The world has taken on a very dystopian feel since 2015, what with climate changes, earthquakes and pandemics, all end-of-the-world scenarios. Also the discourse on immigrants and refugees.

Pratchett also throws in the whole Gods thing too, and a sort of circular concept of this one place being the beginning of all places.

An interesting read but not one I felt particularly inspiring or funny. I was surprised it was turned into a theatre show in 2009. I didn't think it was one of his better stories or commentaries on human society.

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