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Book review Book reviews Marketing Tuesday Book Blog Writing

#TuesdayBookBlog Two short books for authors by Gisela Hausmann (@Naked_Determina) worth their weight in gold #Amwriting #Bookreviews

Hi all:

Although I tend to write more about other people’s books than about my own, I know you know I’m an author (or at least some of you know). I have the best of intentions and always want to learn what to do to sell more books, but I normally get sidetracked and end up reading about something else. But when I came across those two books (there are more in the series), they had the advantage of being short, and although I know not everybody will like the writer’s style, I did, so here are the reviews and a bit about the author.

First, the author:

Author Gisela Hausman
Author Gisela Hausman

About the author:

Her motto:
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.”-Napoleon Hill

Gisela Hausmann is an email evangelist, a PR coach, a communication expert and a life skills artist.

Born to be an adventurer, she also co-piloted single-engine planes, produced movies, and worked in the industries of education, construction, and international transportation. Gisela’s friends and fans know her as a woman who goes out to seek the unusual and rare adventure.

A unique mixture of wild risk-taker and careful planner, Gisela globe-trotted almost 100,000 kilometers on three continents, including to the locations of her favorite books: Doctor Zhivago’s Russia, Heinrich Harrer’s Tibet, and Genghis Khan’s Mongolia.

She is also the winner of the
2016 Sparky Award “Best Subject Line” (industry award)
*
2017 Finalist IAN Book of the Year Awards
2016 Honorary Mention Readers Favorite Awards
2016 International Book Awards Finalist
2016 National Indie Excellence Awards Finalist
2015 Kindle Book Awards Finalist
2014 Gold Readers’ Favorite Award
2013 Bronze eLit Awards

Gisela Hausmann graduated with a master’s degree in Film & Mass Media from the University of Vienna. She now lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She tweets at @Naked_Determina

https://www.amazon.com/Gisela-Hausmann/e/B000APN192/

And, the books:

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You by Gisela Hausmann

In times of hyped promises, many marketing organizations don’t tell “everything,” especially in the self-publishing industry.
In this short book, Gisela Hausmann, a 29-year industry veteran, author of the naked (no-fluff) book series, and Amazon top reviewer reveals 53 rarely published facts that will help indie authors to avoid costly mistakes and market their books cheaper and more effectively.

Topics:
•Basic Warnings
•Legalities
•Editing & Covers
•About Influencers
•Book Promotions on Social Media Platforms
•Book Reviews
•Communicating with Influencers
•Book Marketing
•What’s Overrated and What’s Underrated

My review:

Considering I am an author, I don’t read enough books about how to sell books or marketing (I read articles and blog posts about writing, but not many books) and although I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, I had decided to try and at least read ‘some’ books on the industry, especially because I have quite a few already waiting to be read.

Very recently, in one of the regular newsletters I get offering book promotions (I’m always intrigued to see what is being promoted, and one never knows when we’ll discover the next big thing), I came across this book. I could not resist but had to check the Look Inside feature, and I liked the style. I also liked the fact that it is very short and it could be read during a short break and as it was cheap… well, there was not much to lose.

This book might be too direct for authors who have just started, as some of the things the author assumes we all know, novel authors might not know yet, but for most of the rest, I think it can help clarify things.

Hausmann takes no prisoners, and you might or might not like her style and approach (she says things as she sees them. That does not mean they are necessarily right, as different people look for different things and have different experiences…) but if you would prefer to cut to the chase, her book might be the one for you. It might give you permission to do things you’ve been thinking about for a while but nobody had dared come out with them straight, or you might agree to disagree, but I’m sure if you’re an author, it will give you pause, and it won’t waste too much of your time.

As the book is very short, I cannot share much of it. She does talk about blogging and says there is no much point in rehashing the usual content or in spending time reading posts that say the same you’ve read thousands of times before. Here is what she recommends:

Stop following and listening to people who whine.

Follow all bloggers who offer data, facts, and real insights about book marketing. (Hint: Look for numbers.)

As I said, this is not a book for everybody, but I recommend all authors with little time but interested on reading something about the industry to check it and see if they connect with the author’s style. She made me think and nod quite a few times.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Telling-ebook/dp/B076V862XT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Telling-ebook/dp/B076V862XT/

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: 101 Clues to Get More Out of Facebook by Gisela Hausmann

Tens of thousands of authors network on Facebook. Most of them complain that many of their friends and fans don’t see their postings.

Gisela Hausmann, author of the naked, no-fluff book series for authors reveals 101 Clues to get more out of Facebook.

My review:

I’m an author and after reading another one of Hausmann’s books The Little Blue Book for Authors: 53 Dos & Don’ts Nobody Is Telling You I was curious to read more of her advice (especially as her book are so short and easy to fit into anybody’s reading schedule).

I admit that I can’t keep up with the changes on Facebook. I’m not sure I ever got a handle on it, to begin with. I avoided it before I started publishing, and now, although I have a personal and an author page, I tend to use it mostly to connect with readers and other authors (yes, and friends) through messenger. It’s also useful to know when people’s birthdays are, and I share my reviews there, but I’ve never been savvy as to how to use it to sell anything…

Hausmann’s book is not a book about Facebook advertising. It is mostly about what you see on Facebook, how you can influence what you and others see on Facebook, and the way to ensure that your posts have the best chance to be seen (be warned, that chance is very small). She warns us about our online activity (it does define us and it’s forever there, especially if other people like or share our content, as we might be able to delete something from our site but not from other people’s sites. Recently, an author asked me to remove his old picture from one of my old review posts and I did, but I thought it was a useless exercise and wondered how he expected to trace everybody who might have been in contact with his page at the time), reminds us that Facebook is not a non-profit organization, and tells us that if we want it to work for us, we must align ourselves with its goals (not the other way round, because it won’t happen. No point in moaning about it. Facebook is not there to help us).

This book is written in the author’s direct style, and I’d advise anybody thinking about buying the book to check the Look Inside feature before buying it. I suspect it is a bit of a marmite kind of book: some people will love it and others loathe it. Personally, it made me think and made me consider my strategy, and I’d recommend it to authors who like her style and are looking for brief and easy to follow advice.

I leave you with one of her gems (and it is a profoundly personal book, so it will not work for everybody):

No, I do not believe that creating a perfect landing page, posting the usual content, and buying Facebook ads leads to success for indie authors.

Links:

Thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!

[amazon_link asins=’1983781975,B075R4VPNB,0996897275,0996897283,0996389342,B00XJYY80C,0986403431,0991272404′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’wwwauthortran-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’faaed18c-14e4-11e8-8a22-330bee7017ce’]

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE ENGLISH WIFE: A NOVEL by Lauren Willig (@laurenwillig) (@StMartinsPress) Recommended to fans of Rebecca, Jane Eyre, and Jane Austen’s novels. #bookreview #historicalfiction

Hi all:

I am sure today’s book won’t be to everybody’s taste, but I loved it. See what you think.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig
The English Wife by Lauren Willig

The English Wife: A Novel by Lauren Willig

From New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous novel set in the Gilded Age, full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.

Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life in New York: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?

https://www.amazon.com/English-Wife-Novel-Lauren-Willig-ebook/dp/B072TY6MS6/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/English-Wife-Novel-Lauren-Willig-ebook/dp/B072TY6MS6/

Author Lauren Willig
Author Lauren Willig

About the author:

Lauren Willig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Pink Carnation series and several stand alone works of historical fiction, including “The Ashford Affair”, “That Summer”, “The Other Daughter”, and “The Forgotten Room” (co-written with Karen White and Beatriz Williams). Her books have been translated into over a dozen languages, awarded the RITA, Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards, and chosen for the American Library Association’s annual list of the best genre fiction. After graduating from Yale University, she embarked on a PhD in English History at Harvard before leaving academia to acquire a JD at Harvard Law while authoring her “Pink Carnation” series of Napoleonic-set novels. She lives in New York City, where she now writes full time.

https://www.amazon.com/Lauren-Willig/e/B001IGQV62/

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to St. Martin’s Press for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

In case you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to read the whole review (you know I can go on and on), I love this novel. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys historical fiction with a mystery at its heart, especially if you enjoy gothic novels. If you love Rebecca and Jane Eyre, I would advise you to check it out. And, for the insights it offers on the society of the time (both sides of the Atlantic), I think fans of Jane Austen who are interested in novels beyond the Regency period will also enjoy it.

This historical novel, set at the end of the XIX century, starts with a murder and the mystery surrounding it. On the day when Annabelle and Bay, a couple of the best of New York society (Annabelle, the aristocratic English wife of the heir of the Van Duyvil dynasty) have organised a ball to celebrate the completion of their new mansion, he is found dead with a knife (a dagger from his costume) in his chest, and his wife is presumed drowned under the icy waters of the river. Janie, Bay’s sister, alarmed at the different versions of the story that circulate (either her brother killed his adulterous wife and then committed suicide, or his wife killed him intending to run away with her lover, although her brother is also accused of adultery with their cousin Anne…) and how they will affect her little niece and nephew, decides to try to find the truth. She chooses an unlikely ally (more unlikely than she realises at the time), a reporter (her mother values privacy, appearances, and reputation above all, and she appears to be the perfect obedient daughter), and the novel tells the story of their investigation, that we get to follow chronologically from the moment the body is discovered, in January 1899, for several weeks. We also get to read about events that took place several years earlier (from 1894 onward), when Annabelle (also known as Georgie) first met Bay, in London. She was working as an actress and they become friends. These two strands of the story, told in the third person, but each one from the point of view of one of the main characters, Janie and Georgie, run in parallel until towards the very end, and that offers us different perspectives and insight while at the same time helping keep the mystery going. The more we know about the ins and outs of the characters, their relationships, their families, and their secrets (and there are many. Other than Janie, who only starts keeping secrets after her brother’s death, all the rest of the characters carry heavy loads, sometimes theirs, sometimes those of others), the more we feel invested in the story, and the more suspects and red herrings that keep appearing. I have read some reviewers that complained about the story not being a mystery or a thriller. Well, a thriller it is not, for sure (although I found the reading experience thrilling for other reasons). It has some of the elements of a classic mystery of the era, with the added beauty of the detailed setting, the appreciation of the subtle social nuances of the time, the strong portrayal of the characters, and the beautiful language. You might guess who the guilty party is (I must confess I kept wavering between several possible explanations), and also some of the other secrets (some are more evident than others), but I thought it worked well, although not, perhaps, for a reader who is looking, exclusively, for a mystery and wants to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. This is not a book written following the rules of the genre we are so familiar with (nothing extraneous that does not move the story forward, kill you darlings, keep descriptions to a minimum) and, in my opinion, is all he better for it.

This book is full of great characters. We are limited to two points of view only, which might be biased due to personal reasons, and some characters, like Cousin Anne, generates strong emotions from all those involved (she never conforms, she steals the man her cousin Janie was going to marry, later divorces, and her attitude towards Annabelle is not supportive), but she has some of the best lines, and we get to understand her quite well by the end of the story. Janie, who has always been dismissed by her mother and ignored by the rest of the family, is an articulate, intelligent, cultured, and determined woman. Burke, the reporter, is a complex character with stronger morals than anybody would give him credit for, and Mrs. Van Duyvil, the mother, is a larger-than-life woman, whose influence is felt by those who come into contact with her, and she is far from likeable, and there are other characters that appear in a negative light. Even the “good” characters (Bay and Janie) have complex motives for their actions, and nothing is a black or white as we might think at the beginning.

As I mentioned above, the author (whose work I’d never read before but I’ll make sure to check) captures well the nuances of the time, the dress, the setting, the social mores (yes, a little like Jane Austen, although in a very different historical period), writes beautifully, and her choice of female characters as narrators allows us a good insight into what life was like at the time for women, whose power always had to be channelled through men. Times were changing already, and people keep referring to the Vanderbilts’ divorce, but this was not generally accepted yet, and certain things had to be kept hidden. The dialogue is full of wit and sparks at times, and although there is drama, sadness, and grief, there is also merriment, fun, romance, and very insightful comments on the society of the time (and yes, our society as well).

The book is full of literary references, historical-era appropriate, and most readers fond of the genre will enjoy the comments about books (and plays) of the time. I did. The narrative takes its time to explore the situations and the characters in detail, but I felt it moved at the right pace, giving us a chance to reflect upon the serious questions behind the story. Who decides who we truly are? How important are appearances and social conventions? What role should other people’s opinions play in our lives and actions? I don’t want to give any spoilers away (I enjoyed the ending, by the way, but that’s all I’ll say about it), but I thought I’d share some snippets from the book.

The juries of the world were made of men. A man could hold his honor dear in masculine matters such as gambling debts and never mind that he left a trail of ruined women behind him. Men diced with coin; women diced with their lives.

Georgie took a sip of her own tea. It was too weak. It was always too weak. She blamed it on the Revolution. Since the Boston Tea Party, the Americans had apparently been conserving their tea leaves.

“So you came rushing through the ice?” Janie didn’t know whether to be touched or shake him for being so foolish. “Slaying a dragon would have been easier. And warmer.”

Viola lifted her head. “I don’t want a lullaby. I want a story.” “Even better. I have a wonderful one about a prince who turned into a toad. You’ll adore it. It’s very educational.” (This is Anne. She has many wonderful retorts).

And this one must be one of my favourite sentences of the year so far:

Janie felt like a prism: fragile, but with the chance of rainbows.

In sum, a beautifully written historical fiction novel, with a mystery (several) at its heart, memorable characters, fantastic dialogue, and a gothic touch. Unmissable.

 

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, and REVIEW!

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Categories
Book review Book reviews Rosie's Book Review Team Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog FREAKY FRANKY: Santa Muerte followers discover the horrifying consequences of worshipping with evil intentions by William Blackwell (@wblackwell333) #horror #RBRT

Hi all:

Today I bring you a book I have reviewed as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I was intrigued by the title (not sure it fitted into the genre, and wondered about the long subtitle that seems more a description than a title, but I checked the beginning of the story and I had to keep going) and it seemed very relevant to the book I just reviewed yesterday. And here it is:

Freaky Franky by William Blackwell
Freaky Franky by William Blackwell

Freaky Franky: Santa Muerte followers discover the horrifying consequences of worshipping with evil intentions by William Blackwell

When an enigmatic town doctor saves the life of Anisa Worthington’s dying son, she abandons Christianity in favor of devotion to the cult of Santa Muerte or Saint Death. Some believe the mysterious skeleton saint will protect their loved ones, help in matters of the heart, and provide abundant happiness, health, wealth, and justice. But others, including the Catholic Church, call the cult blasphemous, evil, and satanic.

Anisa introduces Santa Muerte to her friend Helen Randon, and soon one of Helen’s enemies is brutally murdered. Residents of Montague, a peaceful little town in Prince Edward Island, begin plotting to rid the Bible belt of apostates.

Anisa suspects Helen is perverting the good tenets of Saint Death. Before she can act, a terrible nightmare propels her to the Dominican Republic in search of Franklin, her long-lost and unstable brother, who mysteriously disappeared without a trace twenty years ago.

To her horror, Anisa learns Franklin is worshiping Saint Death with evil intentions. As a fanatical and hell-bent lynch mob tightens the noose, mysterious murders begin occurring all around Anisa. Unsure who’s an enemy and who’s an ally, she’s thrust into a violent battle to save her life, as well as the lives of her friends and brother.

https://www.amazon.com/Freaky-Franky-consequences-worshipping-intentions-ebook/dp/B077X41V9J/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Freaky-Franky-consequences-worshipping-intentions-ebook/dp/B077X41V9J/

I’m sure this is not William Blackwell, or at least I hope it isn’t but…

About the author:

William Blackwell studied journalism at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and English literature at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia. He worked as a print journalist for many years before becoming an author. Currently living on an acreage in Prince Edward Island, Blackwell loves to travel and write fiction.

He’s written many titles including: Brainstorm, Nightmare’s Edge, The Rage Trilogy, Assaulted Souls trilogy, Orgon Conclusion, Rule 14, Resurrection Point, The Strap, A Head for an Eye, Blood Curse, Black Dawn, The End Is Nigh and Freaky Franky.

To learn more about Blackwell’s work and read the musings of a meandering mind, please visit his website: http://www.wblackwell.com Twitter: @wblackwell333

Thanks for stopping by.

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I have been reading a book called Paperbacks from Hell (check my review here) and when I saw this book, it reminded me so much of many of the covers and topics I had been reading about that I could not resist, although I was not sure about the title (was it horror, humour, or something else entirely?).

The novel begins with quite a bang. A strong scene where we are introduced to la Santa Muerte (Saint Death) a religion/cult (depending on whose point of view you take) that has flourished in Mexico and is spreading to many other places. Although we all have heard about the Mexican Día de los Muertos, this might cover new ground for many of us, but the author is well informed and provides good background into the history and the various opinions on Saint Death, that is an interesting topic in its own right.

But don’t get me wrong. This book is not all tell and not show. We have a number of characters who are linked (unknowingly at first) by their devotion to Saint Death. What in the beginning seem to be separate episodes, which show us the best and the worst consequences of praying to Saint Death, later come together in an accomplished narrative arc. Whilst praying for health and good things can result in miracles, praying for revenge and death carries serious and deadly consequences.

The story, written in the third person, alternates the points of views most of the characters, from the main characters to some of the bit actors, good and bad (although that is pretty relative in this novel) and it moves at good pace. It is dynamic and full of action, and this is a novel where the plot dominates. The characters are not drawn in a lot of detail and I did not find them as cohesive and compelling as the story, in part, perhaps, because they are, at times, under the control of Saint Death (but this is not a standard story of satanic possession). Although none of the characters are morally irreproachable,  Anisa and Dr. Ricardo are more sympathetic and easier to root for. Yes, Anisa might resent her missed opportunities and the fact that she is stuck in Prince Edward Island looking after her son, but she goes out of her way to help her friend Helen and her brother Franklin and warns them not to pray for revenge. Dr. Ricardo threads a fine line between helping others and protecting himself, but he does the best he can. Franklin, the Freaky Franky of the title, is a much more negative character and pretty creepy, especially early in the novel. Although we learn about his past and the tragedies in his life, he is Anisa’s brother, and she’s also gone through the same losses, without behaving like he does. He uses Saint Death’s power mostly for evil, although he seems to change his mind and attitude after Anisa’s intervention (I was not totally convinced by this turn of events). I found Natalie, the American tourist visiting the Dominican Republic with her fiancé, Terry, difficult to fathom as well. Perhaps some of it could be explained by the love/lust spell she is under, but she clearly suspects what Franklin has done to her, and her changed feelings towards a man she has known for five minutes makes no sense, at least to me (sorry, I am trying to avoid spoilers). Much of the action and events require a great deal of suspension of disbelief, but not more than is usual in the genre.

The novel keeps wrong-footing the readers. At first, we might think that everything that is going on can be explained by self-suggestion and that all the evil (and the good) is in the mind of the believer. These are desperate characters holding on to anything that offers them a glint of hope. And later, when bad things start to happen, it seems logical to believe that the characters we are following have acted upon their negative thoughts and impulses (and even they have doubts as to what they might have done). But nothing is quite as straightforward as it seems.

Although there is plenty of explicit violence and some sexual references (those not as explicit), I did not find it frightening or horrific as such. However, it is a disquieting, dark, and eerie book, because of the way it invites readers to look into the limits of morality and right and wrong. Is revenge ever justified? Is it a matter of degrees? Who decides? It seems la Santa Muerte has very specific thoughts about this, so be very careful what you wish (or pray) for.

An eye-opener with regards to the Saint Death cult and a book that will be enjoyed by readers who don’t mind supernatural novels with plenty of violence, and prefer their plots dynamic and action-driven.

Thanks to Rosie and to her team for the great suggestions, thanks to the author, and thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click and REVIEW!

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