Did You Know That Reviews Are Really Helpful to Authors?

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Writers love readers who review their books!

Reviews are especially important to new authors, but I know we are all busy and don’t have a lot of time.

With that in mind, I have created a blueprint of how to write a quick review. Of course, your own words and honest opinions are welcome.

                wooden desk with books on top

Even famous authors began by writing just one book

How to Write a Quick Book Review.

Book reviews don’t have to be long and complicated, and reviews on Amazon, Good reads* or even sent to the publisher or author are really helpful.

Good reads are a Free online book lovers recommendation forum-It’s easy to join and helps you keep track of which books you have read.

How to use this form just use one or two sentences to say how you felt about the book, or of course add your own thoughts.

brown notebook in between of a type writer and gray and black camera
Reviews don’t have to be long and complicated.

Example  Fire & Ice by Sonia Bellhouse, told a good story.

The Book Was….enjoyable, easy to read, exciting, heartfelt, romantic, told a good story, I liked it. A real page-turner.Wasn’t my kind of book.

The Character (s) I liked best -Blaise Daniels, Kristoffer Eriksen, Saga, Trygve, someone else.

The Things in the Story I Liked. It was set somewhere different(Norway) It included Ice dancing. It had a parallel storyline. It had Vikings. Two different romances. It featured an Australian. I  learned about another culture and customs. It wasn’t a long book

Things I didn’t like…..

 

You get the idea and now to show I practise what I preach here are my March Book reviews

Summer of Love by Kate FfordeSummer of Love

An easy to read second chance at love story. engaging characters and an amusing plot. Super beach read.

The Single Ladies of  Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.Jacaranda

Bette Davis famously said ‘old age ain’t for sissies’  but the people of Jacaranda retirement village have sunk into a torpor, thinking that doctors’ appointments and communal singing are all they have to look forward to.

When glamorous Angela Valentine joins the community, she ruffles a few feathers and unexpectedly befriends and mentors old school chum Peggy Smart. Suddenly there is more excitement in the air and a sense of optimism, the residents are not done with living yet.

The House of New Beginnings by Lucy DiamondThe House

Three women all at turning points in their lives are new tenants at 11 Dukes Square in Brighton. Each has a problem or secret that had brought her there. Rosa is embarking on a career change, but there is more to her story than that. Charlotte is dealing with loss and trying to remain disengaged from life. Georgia has followed her boyfriend Simon down to Brighton and now he seems to have no time for her, so she embarks on a new career path. Each story unfolds gradually and is told with warmth and humour,  you will feel like you know these women and want them to succeed.

55 Underemployed and Faking Normal by Elizabeth White

55 underemployed

The book is geared to American readers and suggests a much larger retirement and pre-retirement crisis is looming. Anyone in the USA could benefit from reading this book – not so much for me here in Australia. The take-home message society has changed, what you expected may not happen, and it’s wise to be prepared. It is not your fault that companies, downsize and that ageism is a barrier to employment as you get older.

The Cottage  at Rosella Cove by Sandie Docker

I enjoyed this book and found Nicole’s predicament with her controlling fiance believable and relatable. I cheered her on when she left to start her new life in Rosella Cove. There was a hint of intrigue which interested me. The way the story from the past intertwined with the present was plausible and added depth.

Charlie the irascible old man from the boathouse was one of my favourite characters. Also, like the gently unfolding romance. It was a believable and moving read. One thing bothered me that there was no conclusion with her relationship with Jane, but life is often like that.

The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts by Annie Darling.

The Little Bookshop of Lonely hearts
This gorgeous cover was so appealing

An interesting premise, after all, what book lover doesn’t love bookshops?
Many people dream of being left a bookshop. I enjoyed Posy’s plans to transform the bookshop she had grown up in. Her subterfuge to keep Sebastian ‘the rudest man in London’ in the dark as to her actual plans was amusing. He’s not the most appealing of heroes as he’s so dismissive of her plans and opinions. I Know that she does eventually stand up to him, but it seems a very unequal relationship.
While the addition of the secondary narrative Ravished by the Rake, was both an homage to Georgette Heyer and an insight into Posy’s subconscious. Personally, I found it distracting and the font harder to read. This is the beginning of a planned series.

February 2019-My Reading List

February was a busy month for me.

On February 16th I  organised the launch of my book Fire& Ice. Although it was hard work- it went exceptionally well, and the event was a success. I will write a post on how to hold a book launch

The Crowd at the launch of Fire & Ice
Photo courtesy Peta Flanaghan.

 

Secondly, we had a two-week visit from family, who came from overseas and stayed with us.

So, my reading time was much less than usual.

A Spell of Murder  by Clea Simon  (Fiction)

A spell of murder

The cover initially attracted me as did the synopsis. Maybe it was due to distraction on my part, but I found the concept of the cats narrating much of the story wasn’t working for me. I had thought it was a fun idea.

The  Vikings By Neil Oliver. (Non-Fiction)

 

The Vikings

I found this a useful and entertaining book on Vikings. The pages of illustrations add to the appeal of the book. Neil Oliver employs his imagination to embody the places and artefacts with life, taking us with him on these journeys. In part, this was further research for me as Fire & Ice contains Vikings and I may write a sequel.

The Big Book of Practical Spells by Judika Illes (Non-Fiction)

Practical spells

Another book for research, very practical and down to earth demystifying  ‘magic’ as herb law and attention to what is happening. Although there are options to take the work further.

The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine(Fiction)

The House Between TIdes Continue reading “February 2019-My Reading List”

My December 2018/January 2019 Reading list. Better late than never!

December was a hectic month as I was busy completing edits for my upcoming book Fire & Ice which was due for release in February 2019. I actually completed all revisions on ChristmasEve.In spite of being busy, I still found some time to read. This time it’s more a list of the books that I  read than in-depth reviews. Some books were for research and some were for pleasure and relaxation. January 2019 and I  was still busy promoting the book, organising the book launch and even thinking about a sequel.

 

books on bookshelves
it was busy two months of reading.

 

It Started in Paris by Cathy KellyIt started with Paris

I ‘d had this book for ages and as I was busy and not even taking the time to visit the library I picked it up to read. I found the book initially confusing as it moved from character to character. Once I had got my head around all the various people then I was involved and wanted to know more about each individual story. It is the first Cathy Kelly book that I have read, but it won’t be the last. Warm, engagingly and a reminder of the Irish ability to tell a tale, reminiscent of the much missed Maeve Binchy

Return to Roseglen By Helene Young.

Return to Roseglen

A real heartwarming story of family ties, rural Australia and resilience. Having an older woman as  a  major character gave the book more depth

Buried in Books by  Kitty Carlisle.

Buried in BooksI was attracted by the premise and the cover but I found the story slightly confusing.

Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine.

Women of the Dunes

For me, this book was a standout! I enjoyed this book so much. A triple timeline made for interesting reading. The times spanned early Viking incursions into Britain, Victorian times and the present day in each instance, a woman was central to the story. The moody atmopsheric cover capture perfectly the isolation of the place.

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

Wundersmith

Could this be as good as the first book? Yes, it is. Of course, you have to embrace the spirit of’ wunder’ and fantasy but go with it and I think you will enjoy the book. Although complete in itself the book cleverly leads onto book three. Ezra Squall makes an appearance and new magic and mysteries are added. Lots of fun

The Magical Christmas Cat

Magical Christmas Cat

Again an appealing cover that drew me in, I usually enjoy the combination of magic and cats but the stories were more far out than I had imagined.

Eyewitness Viking by Susan Margeson- photos Peter Anderson.

eyewitness VikingsWonderful photography adds to the ability to  imagine how  the Vikings lived

Dirty Rotten Vikings by Sertori &Mungo Mazzega. Dirty Rotten VikingsA  resource full of facts and great illustrations, your older kids will lap this up.

Passages a short story collection.Assorted authors Serenity Press.

passages - proud author

I am a contributor to this anthology and attended the book launch on December 2nd. A varied mix of stories by talented writers.

A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

A girl called Jack Innovative and imaginative and with plenty of veggie-friendly recipes too. Some recipes are so persuasively simple that you will want to try them. I am not surprised this book was such a success and that there was a follow-up book.

January 2019

The Four Tendencies  by  Gretchen Rubin

The four Tendencies

An interesting premise and could be useful for character development too. Rubin says all people have one of four tendencies which are  Upholder, Questioner, Rebel and Obliger.  Full of information and easy to read.

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany.

AScandal in Scarlet

I love this series and this one did not disappoint me, easy reading with an intriguing plot.

The Little Broomstick By Mary Stewart.

.The Little Broomstick

Another children’s book – by a favourite author-her Arthurian series is full of mysticism and magic while her romantic suspense was popular way back when. This is a simple story and full of humour.

The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe.

The Lost book of Salem.jpg

A descendant of one of the Salem ‘witches’ writes about the events of the past in a historical mystery. As a PhD student tries to find documents to bring past events to light. I found the last third of the book didn’t quite live up to the earlier writing, but overall I enjoyed it.

Withering by the Sea by Judith RossellWithering by the sea

Stella Montgomery is a disobedient child at least her ancient and disapproving aunts think so. Somehow she manages to get embroiled in a murder and is in danger – her only helper is a boy who her aunts would totally disprove of, and he too is in danger. Id have loved this when I was about ten and enjoyed it now

Fear; Trump in The White House by Bob Woodward.Fear

Ever wondered what it’s like inside the White House under Donald Trump? Investigative journalist Bob Woodward has an impressive track record and here he names and cites sources. The picture he paints is one of confusion and chaos.

Wakestone Hall By Judith Rossell.Wakeston hall

This was book three of the Stella Montgomery series. although I hadn’t read book two it didn’t really matter as I soon picked up the story thread. Stella has been sent to school, a place where discipline is rigidly enforced. In spite a strict no talking policy she manages to make friends. When one of her friends disappears – Stella is bound to investigate.

The Well-Spoken Woman by Christine K Jahnke.The Well spoken woamn

With a public speaking appearance ahead of me, I wanted to get a  few pointers. This is a helpful guide.

The Books That I read in November 2018

November was a month where I didn’t get much reading done, most of the time was spent either on writing or on research. I think I have mentioned that my book Fire & Ice was accepted for publication. Of course, I am thrilled, but a lot of hard work is needed to get the book out into the world. So I have spent time working with an editor rather than reading.

woman reading a book sitting on mattress near the blue string light inside the room
Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius on Pexels.com

A Question of Thyme by Jan Jones

An easy to read and appealing story. Jen’s herb and garden business make her the least successful of her siblings, but an opportunity to create a 1915 herb garden for a tv show is too good to miss. Drama doesn’t just happen on TV, but when making it too. While the rather reclusive next door neighbour Theo could be a help or a hindrance.

 

A question of thyme

How to Hygge, The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen

 

How to Hygge

Hygge- cosiness- a feeling of comfort.Simple practical advice about reconnecting with ourselves, getting back into nature, eating and cooking for pleasure styling a house and living a more authentic life. Enjoyable and part of my research into the contemporay Nordic culture.

 

The Viking World by James Graham Campbell

Interesting, packed full of details of Viking life, whether as raiders or farmers.  Well researched. With lots of detail of voyages and sailing,. a scholarly book. I was researching  Viking culture

The Viking World

The Age of The Vikings by Anders Winroth.

 

Age of the Vikings

The plentiful illustrations are a bonus to the text in this book and showcase Viking Art and craft as well as jewellery and rune stones. Interesting and of course – research.

 

The No Spend Year-How I Spent Less and Lived More by Michelle Mc Gogh

The No Spend year

The author set herself a challenge not to spend any money beyond things like housing costs and essential bills. The chapters cover beauty, food, travel, having fun. More useful to a UK reader than to me – but she did make impressive savings

 

Hygge a celebration of simple pleasures by Charlotte Abrahams

In contrast to the previous book this author is not Nordic but was interested in the concept of hygge. She concentrates far more on design and lighting and takes a more scholarly and idiosyncratic approach.  I didn’t find this book particularly useful but of course, if your interests are more in design then it could be a winner.Hygge

 

I also started a book which I discovered was mid-way in a series- it was too involved and intricate to pick up the story thread, so I gave up. In fairness to the author, I was reading out of sequence so I will not name it.

 

 

 

What Did I Read in October 2018?

First a disclaimer- I have been busy writing a novella and doing some research and that has taken up a lot of my time but of course, I still found time to read! My choices have been perhaps more relaxing than normal, as I was reading for escapism.

 

adult beautiful blue eyes book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Dancing over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

dancing Over the hIll

Cait’s thirty-year-old marriage is ho-hum, Matt her husband is as exciting as an old sock- They are ‘comfortable ‘together. If occasionally she wonders ’is that all there is?’ She accepts that yes, it is. Then she hears from a sexy old flame Tom and remembers the person she used to be, impulsive, a free spirit. Can she recapture that, and does she want to?  Witty and wise, with heaps of practical advice- better and cheaper than marriage guidance! I really enjoyed this new to me author

Death on The Menu by Lucy Burdette

Death on ther Menu

Actually, number eight in this foodie series about Key West, but I was able to read it as a stand-alone, I found the descriptions of both the food and Key West appealing. The mystery kept me guessing, the recipes sound delicious and it was a painless way to learn about the Hemingway legacy and The Truman Little White House as well as the links to Cuba.

Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins

Kicking the Bucket list

Three sisters are reluctantly reunited by their mother’s death and her last wishes contained in her will. Daisy, Fleur and Rose have grown apart and it appears their mother’s last wish is to reunite them. They have to follow the terms of her will for a year and complete the tasks she assigns in her ‘bucket list’ before any of them can a collect their inheritance. Fleur is well off, Rose appears to be doing well but Daisy (Dee) really needs the money. If the three don’t all complete the list, then no-one gets anything. Throw in the charming and elusive Daniel who administer the bucket list and adds a little charisma to the task. At times funny but also sad and thought-provoking, it may get you to contemplate your own bucket list.

The Book Ninja by Ali Berg And Michelle Kalus

Book Ninja

If you love books, then can that love for books help you find love? Frankie Rose certainly hopes so. She leaves books on trains all over Melbourne with her name and contact number. The man of her dreams will be sophisticated, cultivated and well read.

Meanwhile, she goes on numerous dates with men who don’t fit the bill. Then she meets Sunny on a train, his quick thinking saves her from embarrassment and she could fall or him. But for his disastrous (in her eyes) taste in books.

Original, funny, quirky and quite delightful.

The Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova

Kicthen Tarot

Interested in Tarot? Ever wanted to learn more? This is the book to provide the answers- I read through the information and did my first simple Tarot reading for myself. To make it easier, I noted down the cards as I turned them over and if they were the right way up or inverted After that I wrote down the meanings and found that I had a perfectly acceptable Tarot reading. If Tarot interests you, then this could be the book to get you started in doing readings.

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

moon & Back

An easy to read romance.  Ellie is trying to get her life back on track after the tragic death of her husband. But he is still very much in her heart and occasionally in her living room talking to her. She knows he’s not real, but she doesn’t want to let him go. Is she missing out on life by clinging to the past and what happens when she feels an attraction to someone else?

The Perfect Location by Kate Forster

The Perfcet location

Even seemingly perfect lives hold traumas and secrets– an easy to read tale of three famous women who appear to have it all. Had a bit of fun ‘star spotting’ and wondering if I was right! Fast paced and reminiscent of Jackie Collins

1001 Ways to Be Creative by Barbara Ann Kipfer

 1001

At times our creativity can be elusive, but with 1001 ideas you are bound to find at least one or two which help you rekindle that spark of creativity. Ideal to dip in and out of, some ideas will make you giggle, some may well inspire you, and there are some great quotes about creativity too.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Molly RinglandTeh Lost flowers of Alice Hart

Very much a publishing sensation the cover imagery, as well as the almost fairy-tale beginning, seemed to promise a whimsical and intriguing tale. At times there was an almost dark fairy-tale quality to the book- I’d describe it as veering towards the more literary end of the spectrum. There was so much sadness that ultimately, I had to will myself to keep reading and finish the book. I know many have loved it and the prose is engaging. As others have commented the last third didn’t sit so well with the first two-thirds of the book, it felt like a different story

What Did I Read in September 2018?

 

 

person holding and reading book during daytime
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com.

The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon

Jewels of Paradise

This is the first book by Donna Leon that I have read. I chose it because it was a standalone and not part of her successful Commissario Brunetti series. The prose is quite cool and scholarly as musicologist Caterina Pellegrini is hired to research an almost forgotten Baroque composer Steffani’s supposed ‘treasure’. It would probably resonate more strongly with those who are more musically inclined than I am.

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

 

SecretsSheKeeps_FC

An absolute tour de force- in spite of the reader having a good idea what is about to happen, Robotham, manages to keep up the tension and suspense. While at times loathing Agatha it was hard not to feel sympathy for her too. There wasn’t one false note from a male author writing two female characters. Compelling.

High Tide by Veronica Henry

High Tide Veronica Henry

 

An appealing mix of characters from this well-known author. Kate back from New York, for her mother Joys’ funeral. Beautiful Vanessa from the big house is burying her husband Spenser and wondering why she isn’t grieving. Sam has moved to Pennfleet to escape loneliness and stress, but has he done right by his teenage children? Local Nathan keeps his wits about him to earn his living beyond the summer season.

Charming characters and an idyllic location with just enough spice to keep it interesting makes this a perfect beach or holiday read.

 

A Room at the Manor by Julie Shackman

A Room at the Manor

Lara returns to Scotland from Malta, her life in tatters. Her fickle boyfriend found someone else, her PR career is also gone. She needs to start again. What she has always wanted to do is bake, but perhaps with more charm and warmth than Kitty Walker her current boss allows at True Brew Tearooms.

A friendship with the former laird Hugo Carmichael provides an unlikely means of escape as Lara takes to the new challenge with enthusiasm, not everyone is happy though.

The delicacies that Lara creates will have you drooling, (don’t read if you are on a diet!) While handsome bad boy Vaughan, makes Lara dream of more than baking.

Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St John.

Write Smart

Helpful advice from an experienced writer who has over fifty books published. St John encourages whilst at the same time demolishing all those pathetic excuses we make about not having enough time, self- doubt etc.

 

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Rules of Magic

If you ever thought that being magical would make your life easier and happier this book will slowly but persistently demolish that notion. Sister Franny and Jet could not be less alike, but each finds in her own way that magic cannot solve all problems. While their charismatic brother Vincent who seems born for trouble enjoys his powers until he too learns that magic has its price. This prequel to Practical Magic works well as a stand-alone story.

New York Nights by C.J Duggan.  The second book in this series.

New York Nights

Aussie Sarah Williams dreams of New York and when an opportunity to work as an au pair there beckons she accepts. She is almost awed by the Worthington family who scrutinizes her prior to her meeting with Ben Worthington whose daughter Grace she is to care for. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn’t have the same pizzazz as Paris Lights. Perhaps Sarah was alone too much or stuck in the apartment as she spent long periods alone. I didn’t really get a sense of Ben either. I will be interested in what other readers think.

 

Seven Books That I Read in August

August has been a busy and challenging month, with writing contests to enter, and technology challenges to overcome, computer glitches and getting connected to the National Broadband Network but I still made time to read. My selections were perhaps a tad more lighthearted than usual.

person holding book from shelf
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

The Fast and The Furriest by Sofie Ryan: A Second Chance Cat Mystery

The cover of this book with its handsome black cat and its title attracted me. Two cat -loves- of- my- life were black cats, Midnight and Mystic. Previously I’ve enjoyed a couple of cat mystery series Midnight Louie by Carol Nelson Douglas and The Cat Who series Lilian Jackson Braun.This might easily be another series to add to my favourites list.

The Fast & the Furriest

The fast and the Furriest is the fifth book in the series, but it was easy to get involved. Sarah Grayson owner of Second Chance refurbishes objects and furniture for her store, with the help of Mac, who can turn his hand to most things. There is also a handsome black rescue cat called Elvis. Life is good in North Harbor, Maine until a woman from Mac’s past visits and ends up dead. Suspicions abound, but Sarah can’t believe Mac did it and Elvis agrees. They just have to prove it.

Antiques Flee Market by Barbara Allan. A Trash & Treasure Mystery

Antiques Flee MArket

Spell check wants to change the title but it is Flee market, not Flea market, a play on words! Almost a reprise of The Fast and The Furriest although this time the featured animal is Sushi a Shih Tzu dog. The story is mainly told by Brandy Borne with occasional interjections by her mother Vivian. It’s a madcap mix of fun and danger. Chapters include Flea market tips. Again, part of a series, but I was still able to follow a lot, if not know all the backstory

Paris Lights by C J Duggan

I was fortunate enough to win a  copy of this book but was under no obligation to review it. Its been on my bookshelves for a month or two.PAris LIghts Book

Claire Shorten should be enjoying a romantic time in Paris, strolling by the Seine, exploring the districts and eating fabulous French food, with her boyfriend who she is sure is about to propose. Her dreams crash when he dumps her, leaving her alone in Paris, the city of romance.

Claire manages to get a job at a small hotel and that’s when things get interesting as she meets the inscrutable yet sexy Louis Delarue. He’s a celebrity chef with attitude to spare. A fun read with a sexy, stylish vibe and a certain ‘Je ne sais pas’ that extra ingredients which lifts it from a standard romance. This is the first books I have read by CJ Duggan and I really enjoyed it as I sped through it.

The Other Wife by Michael Robotham

The Other Wife

An intriguing premise what if everything you thought you knew about someone was wrong? This is the problem facing clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and it’s not an academic problem, it concerns his injured father. It kept me guessing as layer after layer of subterfuge and deceit was revealed. Like Joe we want to know ‘the truth’ but whose truth is the real story? My sympathises fluctuated between characters and I found it a believable and satisfying read, an absolute page-turner.

London Bound By C.J Duggan.

London Bound

London!  Australian Kate Brown has dreamed about it and now she’s there London is tantalisingly close. If only she can escape the ‘it’s for your own good’ clutches of her grandmother who seems to want to occupy every minute of Kate’s day. Fortunately, handsome neighbour Jack Baker finds Kate intriguing and wants to know her better in spite of the unfortunateness of almost running her down.

While I found this an enjoyable read, for me it didn’t have quite the pizzazz of Paris Lights. It ended so abruptly that I turned the page expecting more and was nonplussed to discover it had ended,

Brain Rules for Aging Well by John Medina

Brain Rules

A molecular biologist explains the habits of those people called ‘super agers’ people who stay fit and healthy into old age. The book explores the current scientific thinking and how that can be translated into ordinary lives. Explodes some myths along the way, such as nostalgia is bad for you. It’s good to reminisce. Fascinatingly scientist has managed to double the lifespan of mice but so far there are no human applications. An absorbing read although I did read it slowly. Lots of simple and effective advice.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Lenny's Book of Everything

I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance reading copy of this book. It’s a book which is hard to categorize and a story that stays with you after you have closed the pages. In a sense, it reminded me of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Narrator Lenny worries about Davey, her younger but much bigger brother and their single mother Cynthia Spink. They are dealing with hardships and illness, and with longings for a better life, a better outcome. Lenny wonders about her absent father and knows that her mother is ’thin with worrying.’ When their mother wins a set of Burrell’s Build it at Home Encyclopaedia, arriving in weekly instalments it opens knowledge and imagination for both.  Her determination that her children will have the best that she can provide is expressed in her letters to Burrell. Lenny and Davey became real to me I smiled at Davey’s imaginary eagle improbably named Timothy. I ached for Lenny with her longing to find her missing father. It might be a stretch for most ten-year-olds but any literate imaginative ten+ should love this book.