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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog WASTELAND (Operation Galton Book 2) by Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) It ends with a bang, not a whimper #dystopia

Hi all:

I bring you another book by one of my favourite authors. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Wasteland (Operation Galton Book 2) by Terry Tyler

Wasteland (Operation Galton Book 2) by Terry Tyler

“Those who escape ‘the system’ are left to survive outside society.  The fortunate find places in off-grid communities; the others disappear into the wasteland.”

The year: 2061. In the new UK megacities, the government watches every move you make.  Speech is no longer free—an ‘offensive’ word reaching the wrong ear means a social demerit and a hefty fine.  One too many demerits?  Job loss and eviction, with free transport to your nearest community for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Rae Farrer is the ultimate megacity girl – tech-loving, hard-working, law-abiding and content – until a shocking discovery about her birth forces her to question every aspect of life in UK Megacity 12.

On the other side of the supposedly safe megacity walls, a few wastelanders suspect that their freedom cannot last forever…

Wasteland is the stand-alone sequel to ‘Hope’, the concluding book in the two-part Operation Galton series, and Terry Tyler’s twenty-first publication.

https://www.amazon.com/Wasteland-Operation-Galton-Book-2-ebook/dp/B087JZ2DT5/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wasteland-Operation-Galton-Book-2-ebook/dp/B087JZ2DT5/

https://www.amazon.es/Wasteland-Operation-Galton-Book-2-ebook/dp/B087JZ2DT5/

Author Terry Tyler
Author Terry Tyler

About the author:

Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-one books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Wasteland’, a dystopian thriller set in the UK in 2061, the stand-alone sequel to ‘Hope’. Other recent releases include ‘Blackthorn’, a stand-alone post apocalyptic drama related to her Project Renova series. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

https://www.amazon.com/Terry-Tyler/e/B00693EGKM

My review:

I received an ARC copy of this novel previous to its publication, and I’m pleased to finally be able to review it of my own free wall.

I discovered the author of this novel a few years back, and I am aware that she writes in a variety of genres, but for some reason, every time I think of reading one of her books in a different genre, another one of her dystopic novels comes my way, and I can’t resist their call. I have read and reviewed The Project Renova Series and also Blackthorn (an offshoot of that series), and I read the first novel in this series (or duo of novels, unless the author decides to return to this world later), Hope (you can find my review here) a little over a year ago. Circumstances have changed since I read the first novel, and the Coronavirus health crisis has made me think of the Project Renova Series, especially Tipping Point, very often. But many other worldwide events have kept Hope also quite fresh in my mind.

What to say about this author? Reading her reviews of books by other authors (that I recommend as well) one learns that although she enjoys a well-plotted story, she needs meaty characters to engage with as well, and paper-thin characterisation doesn’t cut it for her and that is reflected in her books. The plot of this novel, like that of Hope, is gripping, don’t get me wrong, but what always makes me fully engage with a story is believing in the characters and connecting with them, not always because I like them.  When it comes to this author’s novels, even those characters I don’t like feel true, human, and relatable, down to their weaknesses and their evil ways.

I don’t want to ruin this novel for anybody, so I won’t go into the plot in too much detail. The story takes place in the same dystopic but recognisable future world featured in Hope, but almost forty years later (in 2061). Those who worry about starting to read a series in the middle don’t need to worry too much, as the novel starts slowly and there is enough world building and information about the way things work for readers to quickly pick up and settle into the story, although I’m sure anybody who starts to read here will want to know what happened before (and I recommend reading both books and in the right order if at all possible). For those who read the first novel a while back, there’s no need to worry either, because the author offers us a link to a summary at the beginning of the book. Having said that, the main characters are completely new, and although we do get the odd reference to some of the characters in the previous book (and some make a fleeting appearance in this volume), it is not necessary to remember every detail of the first book to enjoy this one, and this novel can be read independently.

Things have moved further along, the mega-corporations control everything in people’s lives (their diets, their contacts, their jobs, exercise regimes, transportation, opinions…), and the government is preparing the new phase of their plan. If they had managed to solve the problem of homelessness and poverty by removing, rehousing, and warehousing the people they found no use for (or those who could be disruptive), they now go a step further. I had mentioned “the final solution” in my review of the previous book, and this novel echoes that mentality, and, as many reviewers have mentioned, reminds us of Orwell’s Big Brother, but also of other dystopias (I kept thinking of Huxley’s Brave New World).

The main character, Rae, one of the inhabitants of a megacity, discovers that her early childhood and personal circumstances are very different to what she’d been told and decides to try and find out the truth and locate her family, despite the risks this might involve. Although when we meet her she is only a young woman who is not totally happy with her life (she is a counsellor but is frustrated at having to follow guidelines and dish out the same trite advice to everybody, and her boyfriend is self-obsessed and not very caring) but she does not question it, she evolves through the novel, grows, and learns to think for herself. Her story is told in the first-person and it occupies a big part of the book. That works well because it allows us to explore different aspects of the world order, as she travels between them trying to find her family. But we also get snippets of the stories, told in the third person, of a variety of characters, from one of the big and powerful who is behind much of what is to come, to a young man who ended up in a Hope Village and discovers that, no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse. There are others as well, and that allows us to experience, through the eyes of the characters, the ramifications of this operation and what it does to the population. Scary doesn’t quite cover it. It is terrifying, precisely because it feels so plausible, and because many of the things we hear the characters say (or read, or watch) are so similar to what we experience in our everyday lives that it is impossible not to pause and gasp.

No privacy, government monitoring of our lives, total control of information, the abysmal division between the haves and the have-nots, the cult of popularity, the importance given to looks and appearances above everything, the spinning of news and the emergence of fake news, the demolishing of any discordant voices, the pressure to conform, bullying and backstabbing at work, the cuts of the funding for social projects… The list of the issues brought up by the novel that could be out of today’s newsfeed is endless, and it seems to have become even more pressing and shocking now than when I read the first book.

When I think about this book and about the author, I’m reminded of the dialogue of a play I read years back, when one character explained that a clairvoyant is a person who “sees clearly”.  And yes, this is what Tyler is, a clairvoyant, not so much because she can predict the future (I hope she’s got it wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it), but because she sees what’s happening around us with tremendous clarity. And she can write about it, for sure.

So, yes, I loved this book, although “loved” is perhaps not the right word for such a book. I enjoyed it immensely but I kept my fingers crossed and can’t but hope that the things in it that haven’t happened yet will never come to pass. I enjoyed the ending, at least for some of the characters I’d come to care about, (but the author takes no prisoners and this is not a cosy and happy ending by any stretch of the imagination); there are plenty of twists (if you needed a proof that we can make assumptions and reach the wrong conclusions when we read, this book delivers in a big way); and if you are looking for a gripping read that you won’t forget any time soon, I recommend it without reservations. If you are looking for a book that will take your mind off things and you’ll forget as soon as you’ve turned the last page, this isn’t it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Thanks to Terry for this fantastic novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and above all, keep safe.

 

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Malibu Motel: A novel about the colossal cost of free cash by Chaunceton Bird (@JHPsocial). A modern A Rake’s Progress facilitated by a lottery win

Hi all:

I bring you a book that’s very modern but tells a very old tale.

Malibu Motel by Chaunceton Bird
Malibu Motel by Chaunceton Bird

Malibu Motel: A novel about the colossal cost of free cash by Chaunceton Bird

Based on the incredible true story of a hapless lottery winner, Malibu Motel is a raw, timeless novel exploring the undercurrents of capitalism. Caish Calloway is struggling to maintain a stake in the land of limitless privilege. Blinded by pride and fueled by greed, Caish is slave to the wiles of a moneyed mind, as only one who has tasted wealth’s powerful fruit can be. ‘A stunning and visceral look into the high stakes world of big money and the risks taken by the wealthy elite.’ Anthony Avina, Edge of Sanity

https://www.amazon.com/Malibu-Motel-novel-colossal-20190426-ebook/dp/B07W4DN5MT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Malibu-Motel-novel-colossal-20190426-ebook/dp/B07W4DN5MT/

https://www.amazon.es/Malibu-Motel-novel-colossal-20190426-ebook/dp/B07W4DN5MT/

Editorial Reviews

“Absolutely Fantastic! Definitely worth the read!” -Erik McManus, Breakeven Books

“Brilliantly entertaining.” -Stacy Garrity, Whispering Stories

“Chaunceton Bird has created a fantastic story in Malibu Motel… A stunning and visceral look into the high stakes world of big money and the risks taken by the wealthy elite.” -Anthony Avina, Edge of Sanity

“An intensely readable riches-to-rags story, Malibu Motel will have you gripped till the last page.” -Bridget McNulty, Now Novel

“Malibu Motel explores the darkest places one is willing to go to when all they care about is money. Having it. Possessing it. Living a good life and not wanting to work for it. Dark and seedy, this is a cautionary tale and the writing portrays that mood perfectly… This isn’t a story you read to your children at night. This is a story I would recommend only to those brave enough to delve into the dark.” -Southern Today Gone Tomorrow

Author Chaunceton Bird
Author Chaunceton Bird

About the author:

Chaunceton Bird is an attorney and author. While in law school, Bird published an award winning academic article and won several awards for exceptional writing. Following graduation, he clerked for the Utah Supreme Court, entered into private practice, and began writing. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

https://www.amazon.com/Chaunceton-Bird/e/B07L4Z9Q42

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and John Hunt/Zero Books for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I’ve seen this book described as a cautionary tale (that it is), although it also reminded me of the morality plays of old (or even Hogarth’s series A Harlot’s Progress and A Rake’s Progress, their pictorial equivalent), where you have a character that does not learn from life’s lessons and at each step of the way makes the wrong decision, setting the course of his/her life into a downward spiral that the protagonists seem unwilling and/or unable to stop. This novel (although based or inspired on a real case it is a novel nonetheless) is set in modern times (although the time, like many other details are not specified), and therefore, the choice of vices is slightly different, but not by much. Yes, Caish, the protagonist, loves expensive cars (there were no cars in Hogarth’s time, but there would have been expensive houses, carriages,…), some of the drugs and illnesses the character falls for are relatively new, and the fact that the character keeps checking social media is also a novelty, but that’s a change in setting, rather than the spirit of the piece and its message.

As I have mentioned, the author keeps some details vague. Is Caish a man or a woman? (According to what I’ve read, the lottery winner the novel is based on is a male). Much is made, at the beginning of this long book (yes, it is quite long and much of the content feels repetitive, because the main character is self-obsessed and obsessed with money, possessions and social status, and the story is narrated in the first-person, so we get a lot of that) of the fact that people keep getting the name wrong (Cash, of course, but other combinations of sounds as well), although at some point Caish has other problems and things to worry about and stops correcting people’s pronunciation. I assumed, at first, the character was male (the way of talking, the hobbies and some of the behaviours seemed quite typical, at least of male characters in books), then at some point I became convinced the character was a woman, and finally, I thought that the author left it intentionally vague, perhaps to show that it could happen to anybody and everybody, and rather than making readers think that what happens is the fault of a particular character, we should conclude that huge amounts of money that come too easy to somebody can destroy them (in fact, Caish is not the only one in the book to suffer a similar fate).

Caish is self-centred, egotistical, vain, selfish, big-headed, rush, lacking in any kind of insight, has no self-control, no common-sense, and no redeeming features. We do get to know a bit some members of his/her family, but there is no depth to the character, and despite the way things go, Caish never learns anything. As I have mentioned, the story is told in the first-person, and being inside of the character’s head is not comfortable. There are hilarious moments (because the character’s behaviour is so extreme that it’s a bit like watching a person tripping over the same obstacle or slipping on the same banana skin over and over), there are turns of phrase that are very funny, and the way the character misconstrues everything  and insists on talking about statistics and claiming to being an authority on all kinds of things s/he knows nothing about is hilarious (and yes, it does bring to mind some people in authority as well). If we stop and think, it is terribly sad as well, not so much what happens to the character (for somebody who loves the lottery so much, Caish should know that there are chances we shouldn’t take), but the destruction s/he spreads around, that of course, is never his/her fault, is appalling, and, worse still, s/he never has a kind thought for anybody else. If you are looking for a novel where you can empathise with the main character, this is not it. There is nothing likeable about Caish, other than some wit, but…

One of the things that bothered me as I read the novel was the fact that the character seemed quite articulate (if not well-informed or truly literate) when commenting on things, but the few times when Caish quoted her own conversations with others, s/he could hardly string a sentence together. In fact, most of the characters seem to speak in the same way, at least if we are to judge by the quoted conversations we read (it could be a problem of reporting the dialogue, evidently), no matter who they are, their different backgrounds or circumstances. Then, towards the end of the book, Caish comes upon a new scheme to make money — writing a memoir/life-story— and then we learn that s/he gets some assistance with editing. That could explain the different registers, although it undermines somewhat the whole of the story. Is the character truly as awful as s/he appears to be or is it an exaggeration introduced by the editor? Oh, well… If you read it, you can make your own mind up.

By the way, at the end of the book there are a number of documents included: what seems to be the results of the toxicology report and the medical reports following the discovery of a dead body at a motel. All the details fit in with the story and are realistic, down to blacking out the specific details, but I am not sure if they are real or not or whom they belong to.

I thought I’d share a few jewels from the book with you:

When I’m making money again, I think I’ll hire a butler. I have a small house staff, but they mostly just clean. What I need is somebody who can go get my Zippo when I leave it inside. Seems like the type of job for a butler. And if I’m buying a butler, I might as well buy a Batmobile too. No halfmeasures.

The standard of living around the world is higher now than ever before. Just check Facebook for proof of that.

Would I recommend this book? Well, you’ll know from the very beginning where the book is headed, and although there are some surprises in the way, these are mostly small details that don’t derail the story from its course. The novel depicts scenes of drug use (in plenty of detail, including how to go about getting scripts for painkillers, for example), sex (this not graphically or in any detail), homelessness, and a variety of crimes (including arson). There is always a fine line with these kinds of books between sharing enough of the behaviours to put people off and not making them too attractive or too easy to copy. Yes, I know it’s very easy to find information on all those subjects nowadays, but I thought I’d warn you. As I said, if you want to find a character to root for or to empathise with, this is not your book. There are also some issues of consistency that are, possibly, explained towards the end of the novel, but I am sure that the choices the author makes and the style chosen to tell the story will not work for everybody and might put some people off, so do check a sample before making a decision.

Personally, I laughed reading it (yes, I have a pretty dark sense of humour), I was appalled most of the time, and although I knew (more or less) how it would end, I couldn’t stop reading, but I’d recommend caution as some of the topics and the blasé attitude of the character towards them can be upsetting to readers personally affected by them.  I’ll be curious to see what the author writes next. And, I will carry on not buying lottery tickets.

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

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

#TuesdayBookBlog SEAGULLS OVER WESTMINSTER by Richard Wade (@wadecomply). An amusing and fun read about UK local politics. #RBRT

Hi all.

I bring you a review I’ve completed for Rosie’s Book Review Team. I am back in one piece (I think) from my break, and it was fascinating although quite tiring as well. I hope to catch up on some of the reviews in the next couple of weeks, and I have something else planned once I’m organised.

Seagulls over Westminster by Richard Wade
Seagulls over Westminster by Richard Wade

Seagulls Over Westminster by Richard Wade.

A political thriller for our time, but with a strand of gentle humour woven through it, making this intriguing story into an entertaining page turner.

Its 2024. Popular TV chat show host, and former MP, Bradley Deakin is the man wanted by the Opposition Party of the day to lead them back to power, breaking the chain of endless hung parliaments and uninspiring political leaders. They just need to get him elected first.

Meanwhile, in Brighton, retired bank manager Harvey Britten is enjoying life with the three things he loves most – his family, the city of his birth and his beloved football team, Brighton and Hove Albion, (known locally as The Seagulls). His support for the team has led to a regular spot on the local radio breakfast show, which has turned him into something of a minor celebrity.

It proves very difficult to find Bradley a suitable by-election until one unexpectedly occurs in Brighton. But Harvey strongly objects to a big shot candidate like Deakin being parachuted into his city and is reluctantly persuaded by his family and radio listeners to stand against him as a protest candidate. But only in the knowledge that he won’t actually win!

The race is otherwise between Bradley and the Government party candidate, Alistair Buckland, a local Councillor with a big secret. But as the campaign is gradually engulfed in scandal and conspiracy theories, it throws the whole contest wide open. Can a high class call girl with a plan for revenge change the outcome? Just how far did Bradley and his team go to cause the by-election in the first place? Will Harvey’s worst nightmare come true, in that he might actually win? And how bad does it have to get for a candidate before their loyal party supporters will refuse to vote for them?

As each candidate increasingly has to defend themselves against more and more serious accusations, both they and the people they love soon realise that there’s far more at stake for them all than just who will end up winning the election.

Review of ‘SEAGULLS OVER WESTMINSTER by Dr Peter Critten

“At a time of political uncertainty, when politicians of all parties seem to have lost the public’s respect, the publication of this novel is very opportune and welcome. It revolves around the intricate relationships amongst diverse characters matched against each other as candidates in a local By Election in Brighton (which may give you a clue as to the title).

Richard Wade deftly gives us byte sized insights into each one and plays one against another on a stage of which he is in total control. One of the delights of this book is how he enables the reader to get inside the head of each character and admire or dislike each one. He has a knack of building up tension right up till the end, the night of the election. He is able to keep us guessing as to what happens next all the way through.

Nothing can take away the fact that Richard Wade is a born storyteller whose attention to detail makes the fast moving plot all the more credible.”

https://www.amazon.com/Seagulls-Over-Westminster-English-Richard-ebook/dp/B07NRQH883/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seagulls-Over-Westminster-English-Richard-ebook/dp/B07NRQH883/

https://www.amazon.es/Seagulls-Over-Westminster-English-Richard-ebook/dp/B07NRQH883/

Author Richard Wade
Author Richard Wade

About the author:

Richard Wade grew up in Yeovil, Somerset, but has lived in London since he was 21. He retired in 2018 at the age of 60 and, having always wanted to write a book, started “Seagulls over Westminster” straight away and published it in February 2019. He now has the writing bug and is working on his next novel.
He lives in Ealing West London with his wife Trish.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-Wade/e/B07NTYGGH8/

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.

This is a novel set in the near future (2024-5) in the UK, focusing on politics, although I’d say that it is the equivalent of what a cozy mystery represents for the mystery genre. It has a light and humorous undercurrent; it does not go to extremes or deals in the most serious aspects of the topic; it is unlikely to offend most readers, and it does not touch on any of the burning and most controversial UK political issues (Brexit, for example). The author explains his reasons for his choice, and you can make of them what you wish.

There is a mix of characters, some more likeable than others, involved in the political race. In my opinion, Harry is the most likeable of them all, probably because he is honest and sincere, he gets reluctantly involved in politics, and as a retired man, fond of his family and with no evident major character flaws, and it is easy to root for him. Alistair has good and bad points, but I think most readers are bound to feel bad for him, and he does not have the necessary traits to ever become a political success. Bradley is the least likeable, although at some points during the book one might wonder if he is not as bad as he seems (and he is far from some of the totally ruthless individuals we are used to reading about in hard political thrillers). There are some secondary characters that are not on stage long enough for us to get to know them well, but they give more variety to the novel and include some intriguing and even menacing elements. I don’t think an expertise on the UK political situation or institutions is necessary to read this book, although I suspect that the novel will be more enjoyable to people familiar and interested in UK politics.

This is a book of the time, and social media and media in general play a big part in the political process, seriously affecting the public’s perception, with revelations about the candidates being leaked as a way of trying to manipulate the results, secrets being revealed left, right, and centre (politically as well). But, as I said, this is a gentle book and even the revelations and the corruption that is unearthed is pretty mild compared to some recent scandals, and it is unlikely to truly shock or repel people (it is no hard-core political invective or exposé). Although some pretty dark goings-on are hinted at, it is never clear who was truly behind them and if any of the political candidates was truly involved, leaving this element of the story open to readers’ interpretations.

The book feels somewhat old-fashioned, even though it is set in the future, and although there are quite a number of female characters, most of them don’t play a central part in the story (and the one who does, and perhaps the most interesting of the characters, has doubtful motivations that stem from her relationships with a particular man), and either disappear early in the book or are part and parcel of a man’s campaign. Saying that, they come up quite well compared to most of the male protagonists, and they are often the ones pulling the strings from behind the curtains.

The story is entertaining, and having lived in Brighton and being familiar with the area, I particularly liked the local touch and the detailed background into local UK politics. I also liked the emphasis on the role of social media and media in general, Harry and his background in local radio (I love local radio and I also volunteer at a local radio station), and some of the most outrageous suggestions of future changes to politics (like the fact that rather than having names, the parties would become either the GOP or the OP, the Government Party or the Opposition Party, regardless of alliances or ideology, to ensure neutrality). It is also difficult not to read this book and think of possible candidates that would fit right into the roles, and worry that, no matter how humorous, what happens might be uncomfortably close to the truth.

The writing flows easily, creating a good sense of who the characters are, and in some cases making us feel touched and close to their experiences (I did feel pretty sorry for Alistair). The author has a light touch and is skilled at managing a fairly large cast of characters without causing confusion or overwhelming the reader.

An entertaining and gentle book that pokes fun at UK politics, unlikely to offend anybody with a sense of humour. An amusing and fun read for a day when we don’t want to take politics too seriously.

Thanks to Rosie and her team, thanks to the author for his novel, and above all, thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, liking, sharing, and please, remember to keep reading, reviewing and always smiling!

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!

 

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Book review Book reviews

#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview TIPPING POINT. (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler (@TerryTyler4) A #post-apocalyptic story of a Britain that is so familiar it is truly scary.

Hi all:

Today I share the review for a book by one of my fellow reviewers at Rosie’s Book Review Team. She is not only an excellent reviewer but as I suspected, she can write as well!

Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler
Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler

Tipping Point (Project Renova Book 1) by Terry Tyler

‘I didn’t know danger was floating behind us on the breeze as we walked along the beach, seeping in through the windows of our picture postcard life.’

The year is 2024. A new social networking site bursts onto the scene. Private Life promises total privacy, with freebies and financial incentives for all. Across the world, a record number of users sign up.

A deadly virus is discovered in a little known African province, and it’s spreading—fast. The UK announces a countrywide vaccination programme. Members of underground group Unicorn believe the disease to be man-made, and that the people are being fed lies driven by a vast conspiracy.

Vicky Keating’s boyfriend, Dex, is working for Unicorn over two hundred miles away when the first UK outbreak is detected in her home town of Shipden, on the Norfolk coast. The town is placed under military controlled quarantine and, despite official assurances that there is no need for panic, within days the virus is unstoppable.

In London, Travis begins to question the nature of the top secret data analysis project he is working on, while in Newcastle there are scores to be settled…

This is the first book in the Project Renova series; the second, Lindisfarne, is due to be published in September 2017, with the final instalment in the middle of 2018. A collection of outtake short stories, Patient Zero, is in progress, and should be available around December 2017.

https://www.amazon.com/Tipping-Point-Project-Renova-Book-ebook/dp/B074LSCX5M/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tipping-Point-Project-Renova-Book-ebook/dp/B074LSCX5M/

Author Terry Tyler
Author Terry Tyler

About the author:

Terry Tyler is the author of fourteen books on Amazon, the latest being ‘Tipping Point’, the first book in her new post apocalyptic series. She is proud to be self-published, is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Her next book, ‘Lindisfarne’, the sequel to ‘Tipping Point’, should be available in September 2017. She would love to have a list of fascinating and unusual hobbies to include in her bio, but is too busy writing to do much apart from read and flop in front of Netflix when the document is saved for the day. Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and writes for one of their main fansites. She lives in the north east of England with her husband, and is still trying to learn Geordie.

My review:

Thanks to the author who kindly offered me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

I’ve known Terry Tyler, the author of this book, for a while, mostly through her reviews of other writer’s books (we seem to share a similar taste in novels and she’s partly responsible for my starting to read more historical fiction), but although I’ve been aware of her books for some time, and I’ve read very good reviews of them, I found it difficult to decide which one of them to read first. When she offered me a copy of her new novel, the first in a trilogy (and there is a story arc that develops through it, so no, you should not expect a conventional ending if you read this novel, and you should read the series in order if you want to fully understand the story), I took her up on the offer, as I could kill two birds with one stone. I’d read a novel that sounded very intriguing and I would also have read a work by an author I’d wanted to check out for quite a while.

This book is a post-apocalyptic novel set in the near future (2024 to be precise) in the UK. Although some of the specific locations are fictional, the author explains in a note at the end where the original inspiration for some of them came from, and indeed, some are real. The setting is one of the great achievements of the novel. For those of us who live in the UK, it is all too real and familiar (with the shops, facilities, political and social organisation, TV programmes, food, language, and even typical behaviours of the population) and that makes it, in many ways, scarier than novels that are set either in imaginary locations, or in vague settings, that in their attempt at representing everywhere sometimes become too unfamiliar and alienating. Another one of the things that differentiate this novel from others in the genre (and I’m aware that the author writes in many different genres and is mostly interested in the stories rather than the labels attached to them) is its attention to characters. Whilst many post-apocalyptic novels spend a lot of the time, either on the cause and the development of the said apocalypse or on descriptions of the new world and post-apocalyptic society, sometimes the characters are little more than superheroes that had not discovered yet they had special survival skills, and spend most of the novel demonstrating us their awesomeness. Although I am not an expert in post-apocalyptic novels, I have read some (the one I best remember in recent times is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel) and I’d dare to say that some readers who might not usually read novels in this genre would enjoy this one.

The time frame of the story is somewhat fragmented. The novel starts plunging us in the middle of the action, as the two main characters, Vicky and her teenage daughter Lottie, are escaping from their town and the enforced isolation and transportation its inhabitants face due to the epidemic. The novel (mostly narrated in the first person by Vicky) then goes back to explain how the situation reached the ‘tipping point’ of the title. The first person narration makes us experience the story close and personal, whilst at the same time limiting the amount of information we get to what Vicky can get hold of. Although her partner, Dex, was well-informed and had been warning her about the world governments attempts at gathering information about the population through social media with shady intent, she always dismissed his concerns and now realises he might have been right all along. (As I have included the description of the novel and want to avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the whole plot in detail, but let’s say population control is taken to the extreme).

As I have commented more than once regarding first-person narrations, there are readers who like them more than others, and often it depends on how we feel about the narrator. I must confess that on many occasions I found Vicky very annoying, especially at the beginning of the story. She refuses to believe anything that falls outside of her comfort zone, as if she was wearing blinkers; she is uncritical of official versions of the truth, despite her partner’s attempts at enlightening her. She has little confidence in herself (even when she acknowledges that she has brought up her daughter alone and has achieved much despite her difficult circumstances), and places a lot of responsibility and trust in Dex (although she does not share his ideas or even listen to him at times), her partner for the last six years. He is a fair bit older than her, savvier, and seems to be the one who has to make the decisions and who is expected to come up with answers and solutions to all the problems. (I thought the fact that when they moved they only kept a car, and now he’s the only one to drive and she has lost confidence in her driving seems to encapsulate their relationship). Of course, we do not know him directly, as we only have Vicky’s memories of him, and we learn later those might have been rose-tinted. From the little snippets we get, I found their relationship a bit difficult to understand, as they don’t seem to have much in common (as some of the other characters note, including her daughter) and we learn that she was quite naïve about him.  But she grows and matures through the novel, and although, thankfully, she does not become Wonder Woman, she proves herself resourceful and capable, she dares to try new things and does whatever is necessary to ensure her survival and that of her daughter. I am curious to see how the character will develop in the coming books and also to find out what role she will ultimately end up playing (as the narration seems to be addressed at the readers at times, rather than just being something she is writing exclusively for herself).

I really liked Lottie. She is a credible teenager, determined where her mother is hesitant, flexible and adaptable while remaining a teenager, naïve at times, eager to discover who she is and what she likes, and to fight for her individuality and independence. She brings much of the humour to the story and the relationship mother-daughter is a joy to read (apocalypse or not).

There are some chapters told in the third-person by an omniscient narrator who gets into the head of different characters, some that will evidently play a part in future instalments of the series, and others that provide a clearer background and explanation of how and why everything developed.

The writing is fluid and flows well. The first-person narration is convincing and the reported speech patterns of the different characters are distinctive and help create a clear picture in the reader’s mind. The pacing is steady, at times faster (especially when there is an acute threat to deal with) but at others it slows down to allow for some moments of contemplation and reflection.

Although I said before that the story is not focused on the science behind the illness or on a blow-by-blow account of the spread of the epidemic, that does not mean we do not gain insight into the destruction the virus causes or how it results in a collapse of the usual niceties of civilisation, but rather that we see these on a small scale and from a human-sized perspective, that, if anything, makes it scarier, as it is easier to visualise how this could happen around us. And, as quite a few readers have commented, one feels very tempted to withdraw completely from social media after reading this book, so convincing its plot is.

This first novel in the Renova trilogy sets up the characters and the background situation for the rest of the series. I am intrigued by the number of diverse characters who are set to come together at Lindisfarne. Holy Island, a place I have visited, is fascinating, but not very large for such a crew of people, and it is not somewhere where one can easily hide or even escape from. The confluence of so many people with such different expectations and agendas is bound to be explosive, and I can’t wait for the next book, that luckily should be out in September 2017.

I recommend this novel not only to readers of post-apocalyptic literature, but also to those who enjoy stories that question our beliefs, our society, our values, and that are interested in people, their relationships, and the way they see themselves and others.  I am sure this series will go from strength to strength and I look forward to the next two books.

Thanks very much to Terry for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and of course, if you read any books, REVIEW!

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