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 Amazon.co.uk

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 Amazon.co.uk

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 Amazon.co.uk
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.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Whack a Spammer and Mint Condition

This time I reviewed a romance and a personal little rant about all that is wrong with self publishing today. Both got 4 stars from me. Here are the reviews:
Mint Condition (Classic Love Book 1) by Kat Drennan

When Maddie is forced to sell her classic Cadillac it brings Nick Berlin amongst with a whole host of problems into her life. This modern romance is a combination of road adventure, crime caper and classic cars. What I liked about it that the characters were not black and white but were formed by their pasts and all the baggage that comes with it. Maddie, full of self-doubt due to the abandonment by her father, and Nick scarred by the behaviour of his own.  The pace was at times a bit slow, but I liked the fact that this had a more interesting backstory than some other romances that I’ve read. A few surprises on the way and some sizzling romance.              
In my case this book pretty much preached to the converted. I hate when I search for a genre on Amazon a whole lot of dubious titles comes up. If a lot of key words are added to the tittle I won’t give the book a second look.
This was a very short book; well more of an essay into what is happening in the book world just now. It took me just 30min. to read it and I would say it was more of a personal crusade than an in depth look at the current trends in publishing. That said it told me a few things I didn’t know and I think anyone could learn something from this essay. Will it change my ways? Probably not as I already hated spam books and recognise the signs. I will also keep doing what I always do and that is to leave an honest review. Will I do anything about spammers? Probably not, where there is a buck to be made there will be spammers and charlatans, it is like always; buyers beware!