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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE CURIOUS HEART OF AILSA RAE by Stephanie Butland (@StMartinsPress) A coming of age story with a big heart

Hi all:

I bring you a book that although deceptively gentle, deals in pretty serious topics. Oh, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in the blog tour, so I can also share a sample at the end:

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Description:

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out.

Author Stephanie Butland
Stephanie Butland
Author
Book launch, reading & signing at Nomad Books in Fulham Road, London, Great Britain
18th April 2018
Stephanie Butland launches her latest book
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae at a reading and book signing event in London.
Photograph by Elliott Franks

Author Bio:

STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop. 

Book-buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242174

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B075VVQ6ZP/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075VVQ6ZP/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B075VVQ6ZP/

My review:

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

This is the first book I’ve read by the author and can’t compare it to her previous work, although I’ve noticed reviewers show plenty of love for The Lost for Words Bookshop, and I’m keen to check it out.

The plot of this book is easy to summarise, and the description is quite detailed. Ailsa was born with a congenital heart condition (Hypoplastic left heart syndrome) and has been ill (to a greater or lesser degree) all her life.  Now, when there isn’t much time left, she gets a new heart. The novel follows her journey to learn how to live her new life, which in her case is also akin to a coming of age story. Although she is 28, due to her circumstances she has lived a very sheltered life, always protected by her mother, her aunt, and her friends, and now she has to face lots of challenges.

The author chooses an interesting way of telling the story. The bulk of the story is narrated in the third-person, although exclusively from Ailsa’s point of view, and alternates between the “now” of the story, and what was going on in Ailsa’s life a year ago. Some readers complained about the jumps in the timeline. I did not find them too confusing (the timeframe was clearly stated, and it was easy to tell from the content as well), and those chapters did add some perspective on Ailsa’s situation. Because we meet her just before her operation, this device works as a way of letting us know what her life was like before, and also helps us understand some of the difficulties she faces now. I wasn’t sure all of the chapters set in the past added new information or were particularly significant, but they didn’t slow down the pace of the story either.

Apart from the third person narrative, we can also “hear” Ailsa’s narrative in the first-person thanks to her blog. She has a blog where she had been writing about her illness and the difficulties of being on a transplant waiting list, and we get access to some of her posts.  The book also includes her e-mails and text exchanges with some of the other characters. These provide us with a different perspective on the events, even with the caveat that blogposts are written to be published and are not spontaneous pouring of one’s heart (well, most of the time), and we get to hear from other characters as well. This is the third book I’ve read recently featuring a blogger as one of the main characters, so there seems to be a trend. The most curious part of it, in this case, is that Ailsa seems to be otherwise pretty disconnected from some aspects of everyday life (she does not know Seb, the young actor she meets, although he is well-known, and seems oblivious to much of what is shown on UK television, for example). One of the particular characteristics of her blog, though, is that she asks her readers to participate in polls that inform her decisions and the way she lives her life. Although in some cases the decisions are pretty neutral (choosing a name for her new heart, for example), others are more fundamental, and there’s much discussion about that throughout the book.

As for the characters… I liked Ailsa, although I agree with some comments that say she seems much younger than she is. I have mentioned above that the book, at least for me, reads like a coming-of-age-story, and although she’s gone to university and had a boyfriend (and there’s a story of loss and grief there as well), there’s much of normal life that she has not experienced and that explains why there is much growing up she still needs to do. She is childlike at time, stubborn, selfish, she lacks self-confidence, and struggles between her wish to grow up (she insists on sticking to the plan of living independently) and her reluctance to take responsibility for her own life (she is so used to living day to day and not making long-term plans that she uses her blog and the polls as a way to avoid ultimate responsibility). I loved her mother, Hailey, who can be overbearing and overprotective, but she is strong and determined, cares deeply for her daughter and has sacrificed much for her (even if she finds it difficult to let go now),  and I felt their relationship was the strongest point of the novel. I was not so convinced by Seb, her love interest, and their on-off relationship, although it adds another dimension to Ailsa’s experience, seemed too unrealistic. Don’t get me wrong, he is handsome, a successful TV actor, and he is interested in her from the beginning, and yes… it reads like a very young and idealised romantic fantasy, so it might work in that sense, but as a character… What I liked about his part of the story was the acting background and the references to the Edinburgh Fringe. We only know Lennox through Ailsa’s memories and some of the chapters set in the past, and he is the other side of the coin, the one for whom luck ran out too soon. This highlights the randomness of events and it makes more poignant the plight of so many people waiting for transplants. The efforts to keep his memory alive and make it count ring true.

The book is set in Edinburgh and I enjoyed the setting (although I’m only a casual visitor) and the references to the weather and the location. There are some local words and expressions used throughout the novel; although I cannot judge how accurate they are (the author is not Scottish although has done her research). I particularly enjoyed the Tango lessons and the setting of those above a pub.

The writing flows well and although in some ways the book is a light and gentle read (the romance is behind closed doors, and despite the talk of illness and hospitals, the descriptions of symptoms and procedures are not explicit or gore), it deals in serious subjects, like chronic illness, transplants (and it debates the matter of how to increase organ donations by changing it to an opt-out policy and removing the right of relatives to overrule the desires of a loved one), parental abandonment, grief, mother-daughter relationships, side effects of medication, popularity and media coverage of famous people, fat-shaming… Although some of these topics are treated in more depth than others, I felt the novel dealt very well with the illness side of things, and it opened up an important debate on organ donations. As I said, I also enjoyed the mother-daughter relationship and the fact that Ailsa becomes her own woman and grows up. I do love the ending as well.

This is a novel with a likeable main character who has had to live with the knowledge that she might not grow to be an adult, waiting for a miracle (unfortunately the miracle requires somebody else’s death), which deals sensitively in some very important topics and is set in wonderful Edinburgh. I loved Ailsa’s mother and although some aspects of the novel work better than others, in my opinion, the quality of the writing and the strength of the story make it well-worth reading. And yes, it is a heart-warming story (forgive the pun)! I’ll definitely be checking out more of the author’s books.

Here comes the book sample:

www.myblueblueheart.blogspot.co.uk 

6 October, 2017

Hard to Bear 

It’s 3 a.m. here in cardio-thoracic.

All I can do for now is doze, and think, and doze again. My heart is getting weaker, my body bluer. People I haven’t seen for a while are starting to drop in. (Good to see you, Emily, Jacob, Christa. I’m looking forward to the Martinis.) We all pretend we’re not getting ready to say goodbye. It seems easiest. But my mother cries when she thinks I’m sleeping, so maybe here, now, is time to admit that I might really be on the way out.

I should be grateful. A baby born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome a few years before I was would have died within days. I’ve had twenty-eight years and I’ve managed to do quite a lot of living in them. (Also, I’ve had WAY more operations than you everyday folk. I totally win on that.) OK, so I still live at home and I’ve never had a job and I’m blue around the edges because there’s never quite enough oxygen in my system. But –

Actually, but nothing. If you’re here tonight for the usual BlueHeart cheerfulness-in-the-teeth-of-disaster, you need to find another blogger.

My heart is failing. I imagine I can feel it floundering in my chest. Sometimes it’s as though I’m holding my breath, waiting to see if another beat will come. I’ve been in hospital for four months, almost non-stop, because it’s no longer tenable for me to be at home. I’m on a drip pumping electrolytes into my blood and I’ve an oxygen tube taped to my face. I’m constantly cared for by people who are trying to keep me well enough to receive a transplanted heart if one shows up. I monitor every flicker and echo of pain or tiredness in my body and try to work out if it means that things are getting worse. And yes, I’m alive, and yes, I could still be saved, but tonight it’s a struggle to  think  that  being  saved  is  possible. Or even likely. And I’m not sure I have the energy to keep waiting.

And I should be angrier, but there’s no room for anger (remember, my heart is a chamber smaller than yours) because, tonight, I’m scared.

It’s only a question of time until I get too weak to survive a transplant, and then it’s a waste of a heart to give it to me. Someone a bit fitter, and who would get more use from it, will bump me from the top of the list and I’m into the Palliative Care Zone. (It’s not actually called that. And it’s a good, kind, caring place, but it’s not where I want to be. Maybe when I’m ninety-eight. To be honest, tonight, I’d take forty-eight. Anything but twenty-eight.)

I hope I feel more optimistic when the sun comes up. If it does. It’s Edinburgh. It’s October. The odds are about the same as me getting a new heart.

My mother doesn’t worry about odds. She says, ‘We only need the one heart. Just the one.’ She says it in a way that makes me think that when she leaves the ward she’s away to carve one out of some poor stranger’s

 

body herself. And anyway, odds feel strange, because even if my survival chances are, say, 20 per cent, whatever happens to me will happen 100 per cent. As in, I could be 100 per cent dead this time next week.

Night night, BlueHeart xxx

 

P.S. I would really, really like for one of you to get yourself a couple of goldfish, or kittens, or puppies, or even horses, and call them Cardio and Thoracic. My preference would be for puppies. Because I love the thought that, if I don’t make it to Christmas, somewhere there will be someone walking in the winter countryside, let- ting their enthusiastic wee spaniels off the lead,  and then howling ‘Cardio! Thoracic!’ as they disappear over the brow of a hill intent on catching some poor terrified sheep. That’s what I call a legacy.

From The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling! Oh, and if you haven’t, give some thought to organ donation.

 

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog The Dark Web Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 4) by Brian O’Hare (@brianohare26) A first-rate challenge for those who love a bit of detecting #Bookreview

Hi all:

I bring you the review of the next book in a series that has quickly become one of my favourite police procedurals.

The Dark Web Murders by Brian O'Hare
The Dark Web Murders by Brian O’Hare

The Dark Web Murders (The Inspector Sheehan Mysteries Book 4) by Brian O’Hare

I AM NEMEIN. I AM EMOTIONALLY DETACHED FROM MY KILLINGS. I AM NOT, THEREFORE, A MURDERER. I AM AN INSTRUMENT OF NEMESIS, A PUNISHER.

This is a theme running through a number of blogs on the Dark Web, written by a serial killer. He is highly intelligent and employs philosophical argument to justify a series of gruesome murders.  However, he describes the killings in lurid detail, and with such gloating relish, that he utterly negates his delusion of detachment and reveals himself to be a cold-blooded, narcissistic psychopath.

Sheehan and his team rush headlong down a series of blind alleys in the pursuit of the psychopath, who continues to murder his victims with impunity. He is fiendishly clever, utterly ruthless, and tests Sheehan’s famed intuition to the limit.  Indeed, Sheehan only learns the truth during a horrific climax when some members of his team experience a most harrowing ‘laceration of the soul’ that they will never be able to forget. It is unlikely that the reader will either.

“The first thing I thought after reading this book is: Why isn’t Brian O’Hare better known in the crime writing world? This man is extremely talented, and his book a wonderful ‘whodunnit’ that left me guessing until the end.” [Joseph Sousa, Crime Writer]

“Head and shoulders above most mystery authors who are published today, Brian O’Hare deserves a wider recognition. You won’t regret purchasing his books.” [C&B Todd, Amazon Reviewer]

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NYH1FK4/

https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NYH1FK4/

https://www.amazon.es/Dark-Murders-Inspector-Sheehan-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B07NYH1FK4/

Author Brian O'Hare
Author Brian O’Hare

About the author:

Brian O’Hare, MA, Ph.D., is a retired assistant director of a large regional college of further and higher education. Married, three children, ten grandchildren, one great grandchild. He plays golf three times a week off a ten handicap and does a lot of voluntary work. Any writing he has previously done was academic…very much restricted to a very specific readership. Several articles in educational journals were followed by a number of book-length reports for the Dept. of Education and the University of Ulster.

He has also written an interesting biography of a man who daily performs amazing miracles of healing…The Miracle Ship. That is currently available in Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. Hopefully those who read it will spread the word and write reviews to help John’s message to reach the hearts of many, many people.

Brian had a liver disease since childhood which resulted in him taking early retirement a number of years ago. In 2002 he had a liver transplant but is strong and healthy now. He continued to do academic writing well into his retirement and followed that with a memoir about his liver transplant, dealing with the physical, emotional and spiritual experiences that came from that period in his life (A Spiritual Odyssey, published by Columba Press, Dublin).

Recently he experienced a desire to write fiction. Hence Fallen Men. It is a story about three priests…but it is religious in much the same way Thornbirds was religious. He has also finished a second book. It’s quite different from Fallen Men… a detective mystery inspired by an old 14th century painting of the Last Judgement. It’s called “The Doom Murders”, and it is available on Kindle and in print. Brian’s publisher’s liked The Doom Murders so much that they commissioned a series. The second book in the series, “The 11.05 Killings“, has now been written. Obviously it features the same detectives as in The Doom Murders. The book is now going through the editing and formatting process by Crimson Cloak Publishing, a cover is being designed, and the book will be ready for publication early in 2016. The third book in the series, The Coven Murders, is currently being written.

To launch the print version of The Doom Murders, CCP asked Brian to write a couple of short stories, featuring Inspector Sheehan. These were originally intended to be Facebook games (i.e. a kind of ‘see the clues, guess the killer’ thing) but the publisher liked them so much that she has started a new line called Crimson Shorts. Brian’s two shorts ( a third will shortly have to be written to launch The 11.05 Killings) Murder at Loftus House and Murder at the Roadside Cafe are now available on Amazon in Kindle and print versions.

Also now available on Kindle (as well as print) is the story of Brian’s liver transplant and the growth in spirit he experienced as he waited for almost a year, not knowing if he was going to live or die. See: “A Spiritual Odyssey [Diary of an Ordinary Catholic]”

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brian-OHare/e/B001K89IWM/

My review:

I received an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Although this is the fourth book in the Inspector Sheehan Mystery series, this is the third book I’ve read because I caught up on it in the second book, the 11:05 Murders and I have kept reading the new ones (you can check my review of The Coven Murders here, where you will also find a link to my review of the previous book). And I can confirm that I have enjoyed them all. By the way, any readers of this book who enjoy it but haven’t read the first one in the series either, I recommend you keep reading the book until the end, including the extra materials, because the author kindly offers copies of the first book to any readers who request them directly. So there’s no excuse. (And that makes me think… what am I waiting for?)

This fourth instalment in the series has all the elements fans have come to love, and any readers of police procedurals would expect to find. There are weird murders, a clever and truly twisted murderer, bizarre clues and possible motives, plenty of red herrings, twists and turns galore and a fascinating background to the story (the dark web, a pretty unique club, corruption, debauchery, blackmail… even Brexit makes an appearance!). If you love puzzles and crosswords you’ll have a slight advantage when trying to solve the case, but you need to keep your wits about you and pay close attention to even the smallest details (although I must confess that I did not guess the murderer this time, and I was derailed by a red herring. In my defence, though, I did uncover one of the major clues faster than the members of the team and even the expert, but then, although I hardly do crosswords these days, I used to be a fan).

It also has the Northern Irish setting that is always an important aspect to the stories in the series, and in this case there are no paranormal aspects, like in the last book, but we have interesting philosophical and moral debates about the nature of justice, retribution, and the risks inherent in taking the law in one’s hands.

One of my favourite aspects of the books in this series is the interaction between the members of the team, who are all unique but work together well, despite moments of tension and misunderstandings. We get to learn more about the characters, we see how even some that seemed very set in their ways have developed and play a bigger role in this novel, and I was pleased to catch up with them. That does not mean this book cannot be read as a stand-alone. In fact, the author has followed readers’ suggestions and has added a list of characters at the beginning of the book, including the members of the team and also those pertaining to the story, and he has also included terminology used by UK police, to make sure that readers not familiar with it have no difficulties following the action, making it even easier to follow. Although there are passing references to events from previous novels, these are not fundamental to the story or the development of the plot, and there is no cliff-hanger at the end either, so don’t hesitate to read the novel if you like the sound of it. My only word of caution would be that you are likely to get hooked onto the series, so, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The book is written in the third person, mostly from Sheehan’s point of view, although also from some of the other members of his team, and we also get a prologue (pay attention) and extremely intriguing blog posts interspersed in the book, that are clearly related to the action, that is narrated in chronological order. There is sufficient background provided to all the topics that come up in the story to ensure readers can enjoy it, but this does not unduly delay the action, and the writing flows well, and gathers momentum as it goes along. As I’ve said, it’s impossible to read the book without getting caught up in the intrigue and debating the clues as if you were another member of the team.

This is a strong and solid police procedural, with a fascinating and pretty dark case that will suppose a first-rate challenge for those who love a bit of detecting, and look for an interesting background and characters they can root for. Another gripping book by Brian O’Hare. I am eagerly awaiting the next one.

Thanks to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading and smiling! ♥

Categories
Reblogs

Under the Sea, a Virtual Art Gallery Showcasing the work of Rob Goldstein

Thanks to Teagan Geneviene for inviting me (and everybody) to an extraodinary virtual exhibition of Rob Goldstein’s art. It’s called Under the Sea and it is fantabulous! Come and visit!

via Under the Sea, a Virtual Art Gallery Showcasing the work of Rob Goldstein

Categories
Book review Book reviews Writing

#Bookreview THE LITTLE BLUE BOOK FOR AUTHORS: ESSENTIAL MANNERS FOR THE MODERN AUTHOR by Gisela Hausmann (@Naked_Determina) Short and packed with useful advice. Because being polite has never hurt anyone #amwriting

Hi all:

This book is recommended for the many authors among my readers. I have read and reviewed some books in this series before, and as this one was free, I could not resist. I’m not sure if it was a temporary offer, but do check it out, just in case!

Book review. The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann
The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann

The Little Blue Book for Authors: Essential Manners for the Modern Author by Gisela Hausmann

Hundreds of thousands of authors try to wow readers, reviewers, and book bloggers. No reader can handle the volume of books they are offered.
Etiquette matters.

Learn from one of Amazon’s top reviewers what to do and what to avoid.
This book includes three different examples of how to turn a “maybe” into a “yes.”

Content:
Be Kind to Yourself
Ban the Word “Automatization” from Your Book Marketing Vocabulary
Put Yourself in Others’ Shoes
Don’t Brag or Lie
Facebook
Blogging
Don’t Just Mention Your Book, Create a “Dating Profile”
It Takes Creativity to Open Doors (Practical Examples)
Lastly – Listen! Listen to Your Friends

Link:

https://www.amazon.com/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Essential-ebook/dp/B07BBSZWDY/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Blue-Book-Authors-Essential-ebook/dp/B07BBSZWDY/

Author Gisela Hausman
Author Gisela Hausman

About the author:

Gisela Hausmann is a 29 yr. self-publishing industry veteran, an email evangelist, and a top reviewer.

Her work has been featured in regional, national, and international publications including Success magazine (print) and Entrepreneur, on Bloomberg, The Innovation Show – a show for Square Pegs in Round Holes, “The Brutal Truth about Sales & Selling”-podcast, and Austria’s Der Standard and Das Wirtschaftsblatt. Gisela is a graduate of the University of Vienna, Austria.

A unique mixture of wild risk-taker and careful planner, she 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.

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

For more information about the author please visit her website at www.GiselaHausmann.com

She tweets at @Naked_Determina

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

My review:

I have read and reviewed two of Gisela Hausmann’s books from her little books collection before (you can read the reviews here) and enjoyed enormously her no-nonsense attitude and the easy-to-use format. These are books that, as the author explains, should take a short time to read (she aims for less than 90 minutes, and I don’t think I’ve gone over 30 minutes for any of them), and the advice offered should be easy to implement, so that anybody who’ve just read one of them could apply what they’ve learned, rather than having to go through a lengthy process, take a course, or make a huge investment. (With regards to this last issue, that does not mean there is no cost involved at all, as in this book she emphasises the importance of finding an editor and states that is much more useful investing your hard-earned cash on that than spending money on things like tools to automatize marketing or on exchanging reviews with other authors).

This book will be appreciated by authors and reviewers alike. I had to smile at her examples of some of the e-mails she has received asking for book reviews. As a book reviewer, I’ve had similar experiences (authors sending an unsolicited copy of the book, without even bothering to find your name, and stating they read your blog, although you’ve never seen them there and from the content of the letter is evident they haven’t) and I can’t but agree with her recommendations to authors. (Although I am an author, other than in my own books and the blog, I rarely approach reviewers directly, but I’ll try and make sure I remember her advice in the future). I really liked her suggestion that we should try to introduce our book as if we were preparing the book for a date, making sure to try and choose the right partner and find the points of connection between our book and the possible date (reviewer). As she puts it:

A creative, exciting, funny, and unique “dating profile” will attract “matching” readers to start a relationship made in “book heaven.”

The author covers etiquette as pertains to various social media as well (Facebook and Twitter) and the etiquette of blogging. Her advice might not suit everybody and I suspect some of her tips might be more or less useful depending on the readership and genre of the author, but I have personally concluded that we must remain true to ourselves, and not just adopt passing fashions because they seem to work for somebody else, and I am with her on the importance of adhering to proper etiquette. (It might seem unnecessary to some people, but I can’t imagine many people will take offence to being treated politely).

This is another solid offering in a series of books for authors that has become one of my favourites, and I recommend it to authors with little time to waste (all of them, I guess) who prefer realistic advice to pie-in-the-sky promises, and who don’t mind some straight-talking (or writing). If you check the sample of the book and like what you read, it is worth following the author as she runs regular promotions and offers of her back catalogue.

Thanks to the author for all her advice, thanks to all of you for reading and please (I’m applying her advice, here), feel free to like, share, comment, click, review, and be happy!

 

Categories
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!

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Categories
Miscelánea

#HappyNewYear 2017, please, behave!

Hi all:

Happy 2017!

As I’ve been promising you (I was going to say threatening you, but I think it’s not much of a threat) I’m planning on taking a bit of time to gather my thoughts about blogging. It might result in a major overhaul or on a less is more approach to life. I started blogging in OlgaNM.wordpress.com over 4 years ago (it’s still alive although mostly through an automated connection with this one) with the idea of trying to gain some presence on-line and sell some books. I’m happy to have met wonderful bloggers who have become friends and family over the years (you know who you are, and some of you will join the family, hopefully in the future), although from the point of view of the books it hasn’t been a winning strategy. So I want to rethink again.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to share some reviews, and I’m happy as always to feature new books if you let me know.

And a few pics from Xmas day in Barcelona.

Barcelona, swim across the harbor on Xmas Day
Traditional swim across Barcelona’s Harbor on Xmas Day
Floating sculpture in Barcelona's Harbor
Floating sculpture on the harbor. I feel like that sometimes and I hear is a good stretch for the neck
Christopher Columbus statue in Barcelona
Christopher Columbus, never tired of pointing, although there’s some controversy as to what he’s pointing at… (Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Queen and King were in Barcelona when he returned from his first trip to America, so he came bearing gifts)
Carmela de Jaume Plensa
Sculpture of Jaume Plensa in front of the Palau de la Música Catalana. It represents a girl from Barcelona and it’s called Carmela

Fingers crossed, hoping that 2017 behaves better than 2016.

Thank you for reading, like, share, comment, CLICK and don’t worry if I’m not around much for a while. But if you have any new books coming up, don’t forget to let me know! 

Categories
Guest author post

Guest Author Jo Robinson. Africa, blogging, imagination and sagas.

Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I bring you guest authors and/or literary novelties. I’ve known Jo Robinson for a while, but recently we’ve been interacting more through her fantastic blog, where she shares everything, from her adventures in health, post offices and moving across countries, to humorous videos, and also the posts of many others. Jo is generous in the extreme and she has helped me meet many other bloggers that might otherwise have passed me by. And she’s a great writer, so I thought she more than deserved a visit to my blog.

Here she is!

Author Jo Robinson
Author Jo Robinson

I was born in the windy city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, but consider myself a citizen of the world. I live with my husband Angus, a dog with an odd sense of humour, four birds, and some chickens.

My stories are mostly about people, and the sometimes dark twists that life takes. I also write science fiction / fantasy books. Shadow People is the first in the Lapillus series.

Facebook link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/J-C-Robinson/405248799532723

Blog: http://africolonialstories.wordpress.com/

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Jo-Robinson/e/B009JB6IAW/

 

The Visitation. Short Story
The Visitation. Short Story

The Visitation (Short Story)

Tony had often thought that all of humanity was a blight on the face of this planet. And now he knew that he had been right all along.

http://www.amazon.com/Visitation-Jo-Robinson-ebook/dp/B009DX4JDY/

Fly Birdie. A short story.
Fly Birdie. A short story.

Fly Birdie (Short Story)

Hannah’s life has given her no reason to be anything but bitter and afraid. She tries to hold on to her sanity as her life spirals further into superstition and dread, until a small averted tragedy leads to the melting of her heart, and teaches her how to love.

A Short Story.

http://www.amazon.com/Fly-Birdie-Jo-Robinson-ebook/dp/B009GDHVUE/

Plight of the Rhino
Plight of the Rhino

Jo participated in this anthology for a great cause.

Plight of the Rhino: A Wildlife Anthology by Springbok Publications

Plight of the Rhino is the first wildlife anthology by Springbok Publications.

The stories and poems, written by international writers, depict wildlife in all its glory. The book will take you on a journey across continents and introduce you to some iconic as well as lesser known wildlife species. These heartfelt stories recognise the joys of the animal kingdom and the heartache of poaching and extinction, facing our wildlife today.

We will donate a minimum of £1 from the sale of each book to Save the Rhino International. To find out more about its rhino conservation work please visit www.savetherhino.org

Stories and Poems by: Teresa Ashby, Chris Brown, Liz Cox, Jean Dawson, Kirsty Ferry, Teresa Fouché, Elizabeth Glanville, Debz Hobbs-Wyatt, Amanda James, Sandra Jensen, Elizabeth Koufidou, Elaine McKenna, Dulcinea Norton-Smith, Emma Louise Oram, Christine Parmenter, Rebecca Raisin, Paula RC Readman, Jo Robinson, Gill Sainsbury, Holly Stacey, Amos van der Merwe, Tanja Vermaak, Stephen Wade, Matthew Glenn Ward All contributors kindly waived their fees for this worthy cause. Let’s save the rhino!

http://www.amazon.com/Plight-Springbok-Publications-Wildlife-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00H2XDHD0/

African Me & Satellite TV
African Me & Satellite TV

African Me & Satellite TV

For many years Suzette has managed very well to live her life without actually taking part in it, avoiding any possibility of pain by very carefully ignoring reality. Until something happens. Something so terrible that she has no choice but to abandon her cocoon of safety.
After the brutal beating of an elderly domestic worker, Suzette takes her in, and sets off a chain of events that leads to devastating heartbreak. And an unexpected hero changes everything. Finally finding her voice, she speaks out, and her world explodes, culminating in the death of a very special man.
On her path to make amends, she discovers the story of his life, connects with the people of his past, and finds the chance to fully live her life once again if that’s what she chooses to.

http://www.amazon.com/African-Me-Satellite-TV-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00F5640UK/

Shadow People 1. The Finding
Shadow People 1. The Finding

Shadow People 1 (The Finding)

After Natalie and Gabe discover a hidden room, they are hurled across time and space, and find themselves on Lapillus, a beautiful world made up of precious gems. But they soon realise that Lapillus is home to an ancient evil when they are attacked by the demonic wraiths of the Nefandus.
They find themselves thrown together with a group of beings vastly different to them in this lifetime, but closely connected through the aeons. They realise that the prophesies of all have come to fruition, and that without their intervention the fate of the universe is at stake.
With the guidance of the angelic Gluri and the help of the mysterious sentient spacecraft, the Vimana, the race is on to find out what the Nefandus want, and prevent evil from winning the battle of all time.

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-People-Finding-Jo-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00BCL91EC/

 Thanks to Jo Robinson for visiting, to all of you for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment, and most of all CLICK!

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