Monday, 29 May 2017

The Elusive Highlander by Ju Ephraime

As a reviewer I read many books but not always are they my preferred genre. I have to admit that Romance and Sci-fi are not something that I love, but I have read some very good books in both genres. I know there is a large demand for Romance, especially the type that is bordering on the erotic. This one I picked as I love Scotland and History. It had both elements, but I think it will appeal more to the fans of the before mentioned books. I gave it 4 stars.

The story was a bit more complex than some other romances I had read. Two lovers denied their happiness by a treacherous poisoning. The mother of the murdered Highlander casts an ancient spell to keep him alive, but something is wrong and he wanders in time until he meets his love, in the shape of 21st century Coira, again. This meeting sends them both back to 14th century Scotland. There are a lot of elements to cope with in this book and some of it worked and some of it didn’t. As a romance this worked, there was enough sizzling dialogue between the characters and you could see why they would fall for each other. The history and the politics of the time was a suitable back drop. The descriptions of the beauty of the Scottish castles and scenery were lovely. Even the time travel element worked. The scattering of Gealic into the dialogue was just another distraction. I would have been happy if the mother was the only one to possess magic. To talk about Druids and Fae takes us in a whole other direction again.  It all was just a bit much to take in.
 If you like to learn a bit more about Scotland but find the history books a bit dry, try and absorb it via this steamy romance set against the back drop of Robert the Bruce and the wars of independence. Ju has changed a few details for the benefit of a good story but she fills us in on these changes at the end of the book.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Self-Publishing and Libraries: What Librarians and Self-Publishers Need to Know by Denise Weldon-Siviy

I've been a self-publisher now for 4 years. The idea of sending a manuscript to a traditional publisher never appealed to me. The expense of printing and then waiting for a likely disappointing reply wasn't what I wanted. I hoped to publish my book straight away, the opinion of my friends and family where the only ones I valued at that point. Since then I have been on a fascinating journey into the world of publishing and marketing. This book caught my eye as it opens up a whole other world of getting your work read; Libraries. This was an academic work but fairly easy to digest and it gave a good insight to the library system. I was actually pleasantly surprised that I had already taken the first step into getting onto the US-library shelves. I published my first book 'Language in the Blood' on Amazon. Later to make it perma-free I also published on smash-words. They pass their catalogue of books onto Overdrive; the system most used by US libraries for e-books. This book helped again with my still very steep learning curve. Excellent work Denise Weldon-Siviy. 5 stars.
Self-Publishing and Libraries:What Librarians and Self-Publishers Need to Know by Denise Weldon-Siviy on

This was a well-researched and documented book. I would say a must for the self-published writer who wants to get a deeper understanding of our industry. Denise Weldon-Siviy is uniquely qualified to write this book having worked in libraries and being a self-published writer. Her academic background gives her the skills to research this complex issue. As she states in her book; most self-published authors are very open to having their works in public libraries. Now I know why it isn’t that straight forward. Even donating your book to a local library won’t get you on the shelves as the cost of cataloguing is often too heavy for a small library with limited skilled employees. I will give this 5 stars because of the thorough research and useful information provided. One small drawback this has for me is that it is aimed at the US market and things are a little different for the UK and other markets. (That being said, there is still a lot of really useful info there for non-US writers as the market is so global now.) But if you are a US based writer or librarian I can recommend it.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

REPARATION: A Spiritual Journey by Maria Hall

This was a great book, I didn't think I would enjoy this story about a young woman becoming a nun, but it was well written and had me hooked from start to finish. An amazing true story. 5 stars

It never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to do or endure in the name of religion. I read this amazing story mostly open mouthed as Maria recounted her story of becoming a nun. It offered a glimpse into a world most of us never enter. Ms Hall has a very engaging style of writing and I was glued to the pages as she took us on her journey from New-Zealand to Australia and Spain. It was fascinating to get a look inside of a strict religious cult I wasn’t even aware off. It spurred me on to read a bit more about the Palmarian Church, which is still going despite its very strict rules.
It is also an inspirational story as the young Maria, damaged from her experiences in Australia, tries to find reparation in Spain. It is after her experiences there that she truly starts to rebuild her life and finds her voice and purpose.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Something to Prove: A biography of Ann Lowe America's Forgotten Designer by Julia Faye Smith

Over the years I've reviewed many genres by mostly self published and independent writers. I've come across some real gems but also some books that could have done with a thorough edit or reformat. I contact the writer if I have any serious issues with the book. I hope this is appreciated and will help the writer produce a better book. I always appreciate if a reviewer points something out. (I prefer it in an email rather than a review, but hey everyone is entitled to an opinion.
I recently joined a new Facebook group where writers and readers connect. The wonderful thing about this group is that there is 4000 members so you can read what ever genre you want, there is a writer out there for you. You post what you want to read and the offers come flooding in.
I asked for non-fiction, historical and an interesting subject. This book perfectly fitted the bill. I've given it 4 stars as it was a little short for a biography. (It was a one day read.) I've not taken in consideration that this book will look much better in a paper copy and that on my paperwhite kindle the pictures did not look good. The writer has provided links to her Pinterest account, and I just had a look. The photos of the dresses are wonderful. So I recommend to either get the paper copy or read it with the Pinterest page open. The writer just told me that she's just signed an option contract for the movie rights for the book. I think this will make a great movie.
Something to Prove by Julia Smith on

I love reading biographies and this one ticked a number of boxes; Fashion and a black woman making it in a tough and competitive business. The story was an interesting one; a young woman coming from a poor back ground in Alabama rising to the heights of New York fashion. Julia Smith has done her research well and has put many pictures relating to Ann Lowe in this book. She also quotes all her sources at the end of the book. I would recommend that if you get this book you do so in paperback. On my old Paperwhite kindle the formatting was off and the pictures small and didn’t do the detail on the dresses any favours. What I enjoyed most about this book was the social and economic history provided about the time Ann Lowe lived in. One of the drawbacks to this book was that there just isn’t much known about this woman, making this a short read. I would recommend the paperback and let the photos speak for themselves.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Just A drop in the Ocean by Grant Leishman

Spring is hotting up here and I hope to get a lot more reading done on the beach. The water is still a little chilly at 17°C but refreshing non the less. This book was quite an epic read spanning a generation and a large part of the Pacific. I gave it 5 stars.
Just a Drop in the Ocean by Grant Leishman on
I’ve wanted to read another book by this author ever since reading ‘The Photograph’, that was a supernatural thriller with a fair bit of tongue in cheek humour. A drop in the ocean is a more serious affair but again a very good read. What I like about Grant Leishman is his ability to create a mature character. They are complex characters formed by their experiences and not without faults. This portrait about two penpals who lose touch but never stop thinking about each other was fascinating. Alternating between New-Zealand and the Philippines it offered us a glimpse into the ordinary lives of two cultures. There was still a bit of wry humour in the form of Nick’s wife Marivic who came into Nick’s life like a tropical cyclone. Excellent read and a nice reminder that romance is sometimes slow burning and ageless.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Oric and the Alchemist's Key (The Oric Trilogy Book 1) by Lesley Wilson

This week I read a book I would have enjoyed enormously as a child. Actually I still enjoyed it as an adult, but it is definitely aimed at the younger end of the YA market. As a child I enjoyed any adventure set in historical times and it is still one of my preferred genres. I hope to review some more historic romance and non-fiction in the coming weeks. I gave this 5 stars.
Oric and the Alchemist's key on Amazon

This is a great younger adult read. The author uses a rich vocabulary to really bring the characters to life. You can almost smell the medieval peasants and the hovels they crawled out of. Bawdy wenches, fearsome shrews and an evil moneylender all add to this rich medieval tapestry. Oric is a great character; eager to learn and discover the world around him, he is quite fearless unless he finds himself in front of a pretty girl. I enjoyed this adventure as it went at a good pace and was peppered with humour and wit. Some of the words might be a little challenging for the younger reader but I think the tense and exciting story line will keep them hooked and reading on. (And today's ‘yoof’ could certainly do with adding a few more words to their vocabulary, so well done Ms Wilson for not dumbing down.) Great start to a promising series.