Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tuesday Totals (5) 2012: Week 30

Tuesday Totals – 23  to 29 July 2012

Here is my weekly round-up of my blog activities – accomplished and planned – that I use to try to keep myself on track, focused and with a sense of achievement! There are seven sections of activities; this post details their status for the weeks 23 to 29 July 2012.
This post is rather long because, as I explained in the last TT, real life rather got the better of me for a bit and I’m playing catch-up!

Currently Reading

The books I’m reading as I post.

1. Cameron Nation by David Carraturo

I haven’t opened this in the last week.  I’m going to have to make myself finish it.

2. Luke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood and others

I’ve nearly finished this one.  I try not to read too many in one go, so I can savour each piece.

3. The Great Firewall by Michael C. Boxall

Michael contacted me to offer me a kindle copy to read and review.  The opening is very dramatic and I’m just getting to the more human part.  Good so far!

Finished This week

1. Growing Up Wired by David Wallace Fleming

This didn’t turn out to be the book I thought it would. I can’t say I enjoyed the frat boy antics and I felt the question posed wasn’t answered.

2. Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter

Nadine gave this book away over a weekend in honour of her 30 birthday.  I’m so glad I spotted the offer – this is a lovely book.  There’s no drama, a very low key mystery and lots of relationship stuff between the group of friends.

3. Darker by Degree by Keri Knutson & Susan Branham

This was a reread…I needed to write the review for this book and whilst reminding myself of the plot and characters, I found myself hooked.  It was just as enjoyable the second time around!

4. Some Like it Rough by Various

A Kindle freebie – the first three stories were well written.  The author of the fourth needs a lesson in English grammar…the tenses skipped about so much, often back and forth in one sentence, that it became very difficult to follow the story.

5. Freaks by Tess Gerritsen

This is book 8.5 in a series and is a short.  It actually read as an excerpt and finished in a rather rushed and unsatisfactory manner.  A Kindle freebie.

Reviews in Manuscript

I like writing with a pen (or pencil) and paper. In addition, it is more convenient to write by hand, since in the time available, I don’t have access to a computer 🙂
Look out for these reviews coming soon:

1. Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer
2. Hot Girl’s Friend by Lisa Scott
3. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsey (10% typed)
4. Scarlett’s by A. L. Collins
5. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
6. The Wedding Story by Dee Tenorio
7. Little Girls: A Novella by Elton Lord
8. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy
9. Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer
10. A Vampire’s Dominon by V. M. K. Fewings
11. Bone Machine by C. N. James
12. Columbus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo
13. Catestrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird
14. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
15. Darker by Degree by Keri Knutson & Susan Branham
16. Sanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild
17. Seven into the Bleak by Matthew Iden

Reviews Posted

1. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops (scheduled)

TBR Shortlist

I’ve been using a very rough priority scheme to choose my next book to read: author gifts (AG) get priority, followed by First Reads (FR) wins and then anything else I fancy! I thought it might be a good idea if I gave this a little more thought and also worked in some of the NetGalley (NG) books for which I’ve been approved.  I have also received books as part of authors’ time limited free offers (FO).

My immediate reading list is:

1. Timepiece by Myra McEntire (NG)
2. Wolf Dawn by Susan Cartwright (AG)
3. For That Day by Low Kay Hwa (AG)
4. One Moment by Kristina McBride (NG)
5. Get Fluffy /  by Sparkle Abbey (NG)
6. Monkey with a Pin by Pete Comley (FO)
7. Hound Dog Blues by Virginia Brown (NG)
8. The River Witch by Kimberly Brock (NG)
9. The Top Ten Leadership Commandments by Hans Finzel (NG)
10. Rise by Yosef Gotlieb (NG)

Blog updates completed

1. Tuesday Totals – four posts
2. Bookish Funny Friday – 12th posted, 13th scheduled

Blog Updates Planned

1. Review Policy – mostly written, partly typed
2. Reviews: My thoughts and philosophy – written, partly typed
3. Tuesday Totals – explanation page to be written, a logo would be nice, but not sure what (and how)
4. Rose’s Ramblings – explanation page to be written, logo to be created; two posts written, need to be typed (was Monthly Musings, but I decided that keeping it random was better!)
5. Blog Improvements – section needed with to do list
6. Visitor Counters – need to add them!

I’m gradually making progress with blog updates and reviews.  I’m hoping to join Bloggiesta this year and get some of my updates done then. Having this list to come back to is useful as it keeps me on track and stops me heading off in random directions! 🙂
What do you have planned for your blog?  How do you decide which book to read next???

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Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops: review

Salsa InvertebraxaSalsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shortlisted for Best Graphic Novel 2012 by the Aurealis Awards, Salsa Invertebraxa is a storybook unlike any other, an Alice in Wonderland for insects, set in an imaginary world as two tiny companions set out on an odyssey of discovery. With one antenna listening out for vast armies competing for dominance on the forest floor, the two friends encounter strange new species of insect among surreal gardens of terrestrial delights. At nightfall, their mischief takes on a mysterious and foreboding turn as they attempt to steal eggs from monstrous super-predators, disturbing the fragile tranquillity of this bizarre Eden. (Images from the book at http://www.behance.net/gallery/Salsa-Invertebraxa-(A-Graphic-Novel)/2349816).

After an incubation of 15 years, Mozchops has exquisitely crafted over 200 paintings to tell this story of a beautiful and dangerous world..

Salsa Invertebraxa is currently only available from the publisher’s website. Go to http://www.pecksniffpress.com/ordering.html for details.

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I am not a big fan of graphic novels. I wasn’t a big comic reader as a child. I feel I need to make these confessions up-front in this review.

Thus it was when I realised that I had won Salsa Invertabraxa in the Goodreads First Reads competition, I wasn’t particularly excited, rather a little curious and a tad guilty that I might not properly appreciate it.

When the book arrived, all the way from Hong Kong, expertly packaged in a box rather than an envelope, I sneaked a quick peak before I got home. The cover artwork only hints at the treasures within.

I read the whole book after dinner that night: twice. Salsa Invertabraxa is a fantastic object: a work of art; a primer in ecological systems; a treatise on the cycle of life; and the story of a pair of friends with the outlook on life of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. I have nothing but admiration for Mozchops. This is patently the result of a labour of love.

Each page is 290 mm by 240 mm in size and every square millimetre is superbly illustrated. There are various frames and insets used throughout the book to bring different parts of the forest into sharper focus or juxtaposition with the main scene. I found the repeated motif of the ants and other forest floor dwellers quite apposite and somewhat disturbing. The detail in the drawings is astonishing – the amount of thought that has gone into the planning and preparation and the technical skill of execution blend perfectly. The artwork really is amazing; beautifully detailed and excellently imagined and executed.

The images are close enough to real life to be recognisable, yet different enough to be magical. The story is simple in outline, but amazingly detailed and complex in execution – just like life.

I found that I treated the book with a reverence, not wanting to crease the pages or get smudgy fingerprints across the pictures. It is a thing of beauty and wonder, all the more so to me for my lack of expectations. I am truly delighted to have received this gift.

There are few words in Salsa Invertabraxa – haven’t counted them, but I would not be surprised to find I have written more in this review. Those that do appear, serve to guide the reader’s thoughts and perceptions gently towards the tale in each picture. What I particularly liked was that Mozchops did not confine the words to a particular place on the page, nor within boundaries or bubbles. The size, font and colour of the words changed to suit the scene, as did the position; the positioning helped determine how much of the scene I looked at before reading the words.

Salsa Invertabraxa is not an action story, rather it is the story of life writ drawn large. It is a work to be savoured, upon which to reflect and to which to return.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to think. I feel that its pages could be used, mandala-like, to lead one into meditation. The illustrations contain beauty, symmetry and colour; speak of life and death, of nature red in tooth and claw, of the exuberance of youth, and the daring of friends working together.

I am so pleased that I won Salsa Invertabraxa and I thank Mozchops (and the Goodreads pixies) for the chance to enjoy his work. It has a treasured place in my collection and I shall read it again, soon.

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I’m claiming this book as No. 55/150 in the Goodreads 2012 Reading Challenge.
[See the link in right hand sidebar]

In My Mailbox (13): Sunday 29 July 2012

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Welcome to
In My Mailbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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I have got very behind on reading and reviewing NetGalley books, so I thought it about time I at least listed some of them on my blog.  Currently I’m reading some author-gifted books, then I’m going to get stuck in to some of these.  I now have a list of all downloaded books in a spreadsheet, so I can list any I’ve missed in a future IMM.

NETGALLEY Books RECEIVED in June:

1. A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn

Publisher: Tanglewood 15 April 2007

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2. Resonance by A.J. Scudiere

Publisher: Griffyn Ink 10 January 2010

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3. Rise by Yosef Gotlieb

Publisher: Atida Press. The Olive Group 01 October 2011

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4. The White Oak by Kim White

Publisher: Story Machine Studio 09 April 2012

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5. Shades of Murder by Lauren Carr

Publisher: Acorn Book Services, CreateSpace 15 May 2012

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6. Till We Eat Again by Judy Gruen

Publisher: CreateSpace 21 May 2012

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7. Beneath the Shadows by Sara Foster

Publisher: Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Press 05 June 2012

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8. Dog Is My Copilot by Patrick Regan

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing 19 June 2012

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9. The World Without You by Joshua Henkin

Publisher: Pantheon Books, Knopf Doubleday 19 June 2012

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10. One Moment by Kristina McBride

Publisher: Egmont USA 26 June 2012

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11. Elza’s Kitchen by Marc Fitten

Publisher: Bloomsbury 03 July 2012

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How has your collection grown recently? Leave me a comment with a link and I’ll pop over!  Happy reading and hope to see you next week.

Bookish Funny Friday (12)

Can you name the books??!

Here is my twelfth entry for Tina’s BFF picture parade.

At least you can say that they’re well read and far from boring – and they don’t follow the crowd!

Have a great weekend everyone.

There’s more information on BFF under my heading Fun Things which has a link to Martina’s blogpost and the meme picture in my RH sidebar also links to Tina’s post.  Come and join us and have some fun!

Tuesday Totals (4) 2012: Weeks 26 – 29

Tuesday Totals – 25 June to 22 July 2012

Here is my weekly (well that’s the aim) round-up of my blog activities – accomplished and planned – that I use to try to keep myself on track, focused and with a sense of achievement! There are seven sections of activities; this post details their status for the weeks 25 June to 22 July 2012.
This post is rather long because, as I explained in the last TT, real life rather got the better of me for a bit and I’m playing catch-up!

Currently Reading

Actually these are what I’m currently reading at the date of the post.

1. Cameron Nation by David Carraturo

Still only moving on slowly with this one…I really don’t want to pick it back up!

2. Luke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood and others

I’ve nearly finished this one.  I try not to read too many in one go, so I can savour each piece.

3. Growing Up Wired by David Wallace Fleming

An author Kindle book gift.  It’s been on my TBR list for a while and I’ve finally got to it.  A little strange, but the question it poses is important in our electronic world.

Finished This month

1. The Protectors (A Thriller) by James Piper

I enjoyed this book. Quite a few twists and turns and the reveal at the end was skillfully done.

2. Doll Parts by Wayne Simmons (FR)

A excellent zombie story, without any of the clichés found in other zombie books.  The characters were each unique, rather than stereotypical.

3. Jewels by Lakisha Spletzer

An interesting YA SciFi novel, first in a series.

4. Seven into the Bleak by Matthew Iden (AG)

The third of Matthew’s Amazon giveaways.  I liked this one best of all – in the fullness of time, it will have two reviews, one spoiler-free and one spoiler-full where I discuss what the story meant to me, in the way I did with my Snakes reviews.

5. Sanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild (FR)

A romance with a difference: There was nothing formulaic about this book…and I’m looking forward to the next one!

6. Catastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird (FR)

A strange collection of loosely linked bizarre tales, that nontheless shed light on life as we know it…

7. The Haunted Grove and other Stories by Tim Jeffreys (FR)

I wasn’t all that keen on the book based on the blurb, but the stories are so much better than the expectation it engenders.  I really enjoyed this selection and am really glad I won it.

8. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (FR)

Fantastic!  From the moment I opened the parcel, I loved this book.  The writing did not disappoint.

9. Alaskan Hearts by Teri Wilson (FR)

This is a Harlequin book – but with a difference.  Yes: boy gets girl, but more subtly and realistically than in most Harlequin books.

10. Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer (FR)

I loved this book and want to read the rest of the series.  I’m considering giving the book to my neice…if I can part with it!

11. Dangerous Waters by Anne Allen (AG)

A mystery romance set on Guernsey.  I enjoyed the plot twists.

12. Redhead by Ian Cook (FR)

Great book!

13 Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (NG)

Buy tissues.  Read this. Give thanks.  Superbly written.

Reviews in Manuscript

I like writing with a pen (or pencil) and paper. In addition, it is more convenient to write by hand, since in the time available, I don’t have access to a computer 🙂
Look out for these reviews coming soon:

1. Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer
2. Hot Girl’s Friend by Lisa Scott
3. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops (90% typed!)
4. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsey
5. Scarlett’s by A. L. Collins
6. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
7. The Wedding Story by Dee Tenorio
8. Little Girls: A Novella by Elton Lord
9. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy
10. Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer
11. A Vampire’s Dominon by V. M. K. Fewings
12. Bone Machine by C. N. James
13. Columbus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo
14. Catestrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird
15. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
16. Darker by Degree by Keri Knutson & Susan Branham
17. Sanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild

Reviews Posted

None – shocking performance!!

TBR Shortlist

I’ve been using a very rough priority scheme to choose my next book to read: author gifts (AG) get priority, followed by First Reads (FR) wins and then anything else I fancy! I thought it might be a good idea if I gave this a little more thought and also worked in some of the NetGalley (NG) books for which I’ve been approved.

My immediate reading list is:

1. Timepiece by Myra McEntire
2. Wolf Dawn by Susan Cartwright (AG)
3. For That Day by Low Kay Hwa (AG)
4. The Great Firewall by Michael C. Boxall (AG)
5. Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter (AG)
6. Monkey with a Pin by Pete Comley (AG)

Blog updates completed

1. Tuesday Totals – three posts
2. Bookish Funny Friday – 11th posted, 12th scheduled

Blog Updates Planned

1. Review Policy – mostly written, partly typed
2. Reviews: My thoughts and philosophy – written, partly typed
3. Tuesday Totals – explanation page to be written, a logo would be nice, but not sure what (and how)
4. Monthly Musings – explanation page to be written, logo to be created; two posts written, need to be typed
5. Blog Improvements – section needed with to do list

Not much progress made on my blog in the last few weeks; it’s been a busy one in real life. Having this list to come back to is useful as it keeps me on track and stops me heading off in random directions! 🙂
What do you have planned for your blog?  How do you decide which book to read next???

In My Letterbox (12): Monday 25 June to 22 July 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Catching up with the books acquired during my slight life hiccup…

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. The Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

The PlazaThe Plaza by Guillermo Paxton

Plaza-in Mexican culture, a slang word describing the territory of a certain cartel.
Imagine your town the battleground for drug cartels. Imagine police being killed on a daily basis, bands of teenagers working as paid assassins, extortionists hitting every business, no matter how small it was. Imagine every time you went out to a restaurant, cut your hair, or even went to the movies your life was in danger, be it robberies or public executions. Imagine just five homicides in a twenty-four hour period being considered a “good” day. This is the description of what it is to live in Juarez, Mexico. In The Plaza, Guillermo Paxton explores the horror of what it was to see the place he called home turn into this nightmare.
Saul Saavedra is a crime reporter for the Juarez Daily newspaper. In just a year’s time he saw his city change from decent place to live and work to a crime-infested inferno. He reports the happenings in a city that is experiencing total social decay and writes against the government that at best does nothing about it. Two major drug cartels battle it out in Juarez and Saul soon finds himself in the crossfire between La Linea and the Sinaloa Cartel.
Guns for hire are a dime a dozen in a war among cartels, but Felipe stands out as one of the best. His only love is for money, or so he believes, until he meets a beautiful young prostitute named Ruby. As he rises in the ranks of La Linea his relationship with Ruby changes as well, and soon he learns that she too has a taste for blood.
Thousands of Mexicans are deported to Mexico every year, Juarez being a dumping ground for many. Some are convicts that have spent years in federal prison and now have lost their status as residents. Juan, a psychopathic killer, is given the option to return to Mexico or finish out his sentence in the federal penitentiary. For him the choice is obvious and he soon finds himself at home in violent Juarez and finds work in the Sinaloa Cartel.
Based on true events in the city of Juarez, The Plaza is about the people, the government and the cartels that make up both the innocent victims and the criminals that are the pawns in the drug war of Mexico.

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I’m not sure how I feel about winning this book…I have a feeling that reading it will not be comfortable. Then again, that’s true of a number of books that I’ve won recently!

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2. Sanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild

SanctuarySanctuary by Glyn Smith-Wild

At first glance, ‘Sanctuary’ may appear to be a romantic novel, but it isn’t. Nothing is as straightforward as it seems.
‘Sanctuary’ tells the story of Ben Coverdale and his decision to start a new life in France after his love-life in England collapses. However, Ben’s life is quickly reshaped by events put in place long before his departure to France and their consequences reveal a story of suspense and intrigue. Mary, Katie and Grunge all provide Ben with more problems than he can at times cope with.
Combined with his love of France and a surprising amount of input from the characters in the book, ‘Sanctuary’ is an appealing read for fellow lovers of France with mystery and romance adding to its appeal.

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I’ve already read Sanctuary – watch out for the review!
If you’re quick, you can get a free kindle copy today…see this note from the author:
The Kindle edition of ‘Sanctuary’ is FREE this week-end. It will not be offered fro free again, so get you copy today. And if you enjoy it (and most readers seem to) please leave a review.

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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3. Sand Dollar by Sebastian Cole

Sand Dollar: A Story of Undying LoveSand Dollar: A Story of Undying Love by Sebastian Cole

What if you lost your true soul mate, the one person in life you were meant to be with? Would your love ever truly die? Not if you’re Noah Hartman, who refuses to let go of Robin after she inexplicably abandons their love and disappears from his life seemingly forever, her hidden secret yet to be discovered.
And when you finally accept your fate and do your best to move on with your life, what do you say when the unthinkable happens: your true love Robin reappears as your wedding ceremony to another woman is about to commence, looks deep into your soul with her loving, tear-filled eyes, and tells you the one thing you’ve desperately longed to hear for all of these years?
But the ending to this heart-wrenching love story has yet to be written, as Noah, old and sick in a hospital bed, tells his story of love and loss to Josh, a wise orderly at Mount Sinai Hospital. As his family members arrive to bid him goodbye, Noah discovers a far greater truth about his past, present, and future. Things are definitely not as they appear as the pieces of a shattered love are put back together in the remarkable final chapter of Noah’s life.

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I’m looking forward to reading this one.

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4. Spellbound by Monique N Peterson

Spellbound Spellbound by Monique N. Peterson

Have you ever wanted someone…you couldn’t have? For almost a year, all Bea wanted was for things to go back to the way they were before her best friend left…but when Caid Knight comes into her life, everything changes. Even after Princess Jennipher returns, there is something different about the friendship they once shared as her relationships with fellow housemaids, Kerry and Lucy, begin altering and dwindling. News of a revolt against Crimson Isle’s four monarchies threatens the lives of those closest to her while her own safety becomes the most endangered as she considers leaving the only home she has ever known. As for Caid, her feelings for him are growing stronger with each passing day yet she doesn’t know how he feels about her. Before she can ask, she is told that fate will not allow them to be together, regardless of what she tries to do to be with him. Will she defy this foretelling or surrender herself to it?

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This sounds interesting and entertaining.

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5. Codon Zero by Jim Hendee

Codon ZeroCodon Zero by Jim Hendee

Jason Stouter, a U.S. intelligence officer forced into retirement by the Mossad, confronts an old nemesis, Kahlil Zufar, during a Middle East conflict final solution. A secret group of genetic engineers tricks Jaason into embarking upon blackmail of Israel and the Arab nations to achieve peace throughout the Middle East. The geneticists engineer a very selective virus, but Jason’s nemesis hijacks the virus for his own purposes, imperiling the mission for peace. Through the cooperative efforts of his friend in the FBI and two sexy but dangerous women he meets along the way, Jason now has to stop the spread of the virus yet allow the dream of peace to go forward. Through the Florida Keys, Jackson Hole, Boston, Israel and Jordan, Jason struggles to find out why Zufar needs to wield the deadliest weapon the Middle East has ever seen to realize his ultimate vision.

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I love a good conspiracy novel with plenty of science thrown in.

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6. Luke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood

Luke Wood presents More than a Million WordsLuke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood

More than a Million Words is a collection of many unknown authors showcasing their natural talents.  In this anthology you find many different authors with many different writing styles while each shine in their own way.
More than a Million Words was arranged by Luke Wood after receiving great literary works from unknown writers for reading and critiquing.  Luke found all of the material incredible and chose to put together an anthology featuring the great talents of these incredible writers.

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I’m most of the way through these stories and poems, and enjoying meeting new authors.

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7. Redhead by Ian Cook

RedheadRedhead by Ian Cook

A must-read for all redheads and their admirers as well as fans of science fiction and horror.
Redheads have always attracted attention: desired, envied, pitied, ridiculed, even persecuted. Now the sacrifices begin…
In 1921, in the ruined city of Carthage near Tunis, a red-haired French archaeologist hears the cries of long-dead children as he stumbles upon a legendary sacrificial site. Shortly afterwards, he is viciously attacked by a hawk.
Back in present-day London, flame-haired journalist Rebecca Burns investigates strange and macabre events which seem to be directed against redheads worldwide. Together with young astrophysicist Dr Jim Cavendish and Professor Larry Burton, an authority on ancient civilisations, she is drawn into an age-old feud…a feud that threatens the very existence of redheads everywhere.

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Read this the day it arrived…rather good 🙂 review to follow…

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8. Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Alice Parker's Metamorphosis (Alice Parker, #1)Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis by Nicola Palmer

Feisty thirteen-year-old Alice Parker knows something isn’t right. Aches and pains have started, she hardly sleeps and her craving for fruit is out of control. Suddenly she is top of the class in every subject. Feeling at odds with the world and being bullied by the ‘coven’ at school, Alice can’t take much more. Only when she collapses and experiences a life-changing transformation does she learn why she is different. But with this new identity comes responsibility and Alice isn’t convinced she can rise to the challenge. She just wants to be normal! The fact is she’s anything but.
Forgotten tales of a magical society are catapulted into the daily life of strong, memorable female characters who readers will grow to love. An intriguing blend of realism, suspense and fantasy, a must-read for girls of 7+.

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And I’ve read this one too! It’s a really good children’s book and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.  My neice may well get my copy, if I can bear to part with it!

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BOOKS bought from the hospital charity stall:

1. Icebound by Dean Koontz

Icebound. by Dean Koontz

A stunning and suspenseful thriller, about humanity’s continuous and sometimes futile battle against nature from one of the most popular and bestselling authors in America.
Conducting a strange and urgent experiment of the Arctic icefield, a team of scientists has planted sixty powerful explosive charges that will detonate at midnight. Before they can withdraw to the safety of the base camp, a shattering tidal wave breaks loose the ice on which they are working. Now they are hopelessly marooned on an iceberg during a violent winter storm. The bombs beneath them are buried irretrievable deep . . . and ticking. And they discover that one of them is an assassin with mission of his won. This is classic Koontz.

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Goodreads don’t have the cover image for the edition I bought…yet.  I’m working on finding it for them.

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2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This extraordinary, magical novel is the story of Clare and Henry who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty.

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 I’ve wanted to read this for some time, so I snaffled this copy when I saw it.

Author gift

1. Keys to the Castle by Donna Ball

Keys to the CastleKeys to the Castle by Donna Ball

When a dashing French poet swept forty-something workaholic Sara Graves off her feet, she did something completely unexpected: She married him. Then three weeks later he died, leaving her a house she can’t afford to keep in a country she’s never been to. Traveling to France to settle the estate, Sara is shocked to discover that her husband wasn’t the impoverished poet he claimed to be- and that the estate he left her is a 400-year-old crumbling castle in the Loire Valley. Now Sara must sell Chateau Rondelais before it (not to mention her late husband’s disarmingly handsome lawyer and best friend) makes her question her decision to leave-and opens her heart to change and all its unexpected possibilities.

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Donna Ball kindly sent me this book when I was drawn third in her competition for reader/reviewers.  What a lovely surprise!

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Those are all the physical books that have entered my house in the last four weeks. Next time, I’ll cover some of the electronic books.
Don’t forget to leave links to your posts so I can have a virtual nosey around your shelves!

Bookish Funny Friday (11)

Need I say more?!

Here is my eleventh entry for Tina’s BFF picture parade.

I have just moved the picture I had planned for this week to next week, having spotted this picture on a friends Facebook page!  Given that even the guys on the shopfloor are talking about 50SoG, this seemed a timely addition to the BFF Gallery.  It also gives me the opportunity to gain a wider audience for my suggestion that fans of the Grey series are called SOGGIES.  Are you a SOGGY??

I must apologise for this post being late.  My internet and phone connection are down at the moment (phone company fault) and work have changed their internet security protocols so even editing my blog there is difficult.  I’m at a friend’s house doing this!

The phone company say it could take until Wednesday to get my connection back up, so it’s likely that Tuesday Totals will be late – again!

Have a great weekend everyone.

There’s more information on BFF under my heading Fun Things which has a link to Martina’s blogpost and the meme picture in my RH sidebar also links to Tina’s post.  Come and join us and have some fun!

Tuesday Totals (3) 2012: Week 25

Tuesday Totals – 17-24 June 2012

Here is my weekly round-up of my blog activities – accomplished and planned – that I use to try to keep myself on track, focused and with a sense of achievement! There are seven sections of activities; this post details their status for the week 17–24 June 2012.
This post is rather late because, as I explained in last Sunday’s IML, real life rather got the better of me for a bit!

Currently Reading

Actually these are what I’m currently reading at the date of the post.

1. Cameron Nation by David Carraturo

I’m disappointed with this book, probably because all the reviews I read were so approving. If you’re interested in my thoughts, feel free to check out my status update comments on Goodreads. There is also an interesting posts from another reader who really likes the book. I am determined to finish the book so I can review it properly.

2. Luke Wood presents More than a Million Words by Luke Wood and others

I won this book of poetry and short stories on Goodreads. I’m enjoying the ideas explored by the various writers, although one in particular has a serious spelling problem. It’s nice to have a book into which you can dip, there is far less guilt involved!

3. The Protectors (A Thriller) by James Piper

One of my free kindle downloads from some time back. I’m reading it because the author contacted me on Goodreads when I added it to my to-read shelf.

Finished This Week

1. The Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

This was, as I expected, an action packed mystery.  Just what I needed to contrast with my recent reading.  I do like a lot of variety in my reading material.

2. The Sword of Kings by Matthew Iden

I follow Matt’s blog, so when he posted that he was giving away three of his short stories over the course of six days, I was in there like a shot (yeah, I’m a freebie tart!). What I found is a treature trove. Matt’s stories are gems – and for those of you addicted to huge tomes and long series, I say: Try these and you will find that when suitably packaged, a short can give just as much enjoyment and food for thought.

3. Assassin by Matthew Iden

The second of Matt’s free books. I liked this less than the first, but it’s still an excellent story.

4. Flash Gold by Lindsay Buroker

A free kindle download. YA Steampunk short/novella. I really enjoyed this – so much I paid for the second installment!

5. Hunted by Lindsay Buroker

The sequel to Flash Gold.  I’d really like to read more, but when I look at my box of TBRs, I can’t justify to myself reading something else!!

Reviews in Manuscript

I like writing with a pen (or pencil) and paper. In addition, it is more convenient to write by hand, since in the time available, I don’t have access to a computer 🙂
Look out for these reviews coming soon:

1. Defying Drakon by Carole Mortimer
2. Hot Girl’s Friend by Lisa Scott
3. Salsa Invertebraxa by Mozchops
4. The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsey
5. Scarlett’s by A. L. Collins
6. The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells
7. The Wedding Story by Dee Tenorio
8. Little Girls: A Novella by Elton Lord
9. Unforgettable Embrace by Joanne Clancy
10. Dead(ish) by Naomi Kramer
11. A Vampire’s Dominon by V. M. K. Fewings
12. Bone Machine by C. N. James
13. Columbus Avenue Boys by David Carraturo

Reviews Posted

None – shocking performance!!

TBR Shortlist

I’ve been using a very rough priority scheme to choose my next book to read: author gifts (AG) get priority, followed by First Reads (FR) wins and then anything else I fancy! I thought it might be a good idea if I gave this a little more thought and also worked in some of the NetGalley (NG) books for which I’ve been approved.

My immediate reading list is:

1. Seven into the Bleak by Matthew Iden
2. Growing up Wired by David Wallace Fleming (AG)
3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (NG)
4. Timepiece by Myra McEntire
5. Catastrophically Consequential by Stephen C. Bird (FR)
6. Doll Parts by Wayne Simmons (FR)

Blog updates completed

1. Tuesday Totals – two posts made, template created
2. Bookish Funny Friday – one more posted

Blog Updates Planned

1. Review Policy – mostly written, partly typed
2. Reviews: My thoughts and philosophy – written, partly typed
3. Tuesday Totals – explanation page to be written, a logo would be nice, but not sure what (and how)
4. Monthly Musings – explanation page to be written, logo to be created; two posts written, need to be typed
5. Blog Improvements – section needed with to do list

Not much progress made on my blog in the last few weeks; it’s been a busy one in real life. Having this list to come back to is useful as it keeps me on track and stops me heading off in random directions! 🙂
What do you have planned for your blog?  How do you decide which book to read next???

In My Letterbox (11): Books to week ending Sunday 24 June 2012

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Welcome to
In My Letterbox!!

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and Letterbox Love is a British take on the idea. If you want to know more, there is information under the Fun Things heading above, or you can click on the pictures at the top of this post to take you to the hosts’ blogs.

These posts are to tell you about the books I have acquired recently. I know most bloggers call all such posts “In My Mailbox”, however, as I’m English, my physical post comes through my letterbox and my electronic mail arrives in my mailbox (or my inbox…). So I have decided to use the following terms:

In My Letterbox (IML) for the physical books I aquire;
In My Mailbox (IMM) for the NetGalley books or ebooks sent to me for review by authors or which I buy;
In My Inbox (IMI) for the free Kindle ebooks I compulsively download!

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Firstly, my apologies for not posting for a couple of weeks…lots of real life issues, starting with my RA being so badly exacerbated by having to stand for two days at work whilst doing some testing that I couldn’t think, let alone walk for most of the time for several days!  Mostly better now (in time for work!) so I will try to get back on track.  I did get quite a bit of reading done though, and added to my manuscript (but not posted 😦 ) reviews.  Then a few other things landed on my plate and, well, something had to give 😦 On a brighter note, I’m hoping to get back to regular posting again – thanks for sticking around 🙂  This post is the one I was working on for 24 June; my next will summarise all the books acquired in the meantime!

Books I have won on Goodreads First Reads:

1. Doxology by Brian Holers

DoxologyDoxology by Brian Holers

Vernon Davidson is an angry man. After a lifetime of abuse and loss the 61-year-old is ready to get back at God, his co-workers, and everyone else is in his north Louisiana hometown. He drinks too much to numb the pain, shuns his friends and embarrasses himself in the community. The once-cautious Vernon spirals into a reckless mess.

Only when he is reunited with his estranged nephew Jody is he forced to confront his situation. Jody is struggling in equal parts after inflicting a self-imposed exile upon himself by fleeing the family, and thereby himself, for a new life thousands of miles away. Now his father, Vernon’s brother, is dying and Vernon agrees to retrieve him for his brother’s sake.

Jody embarks on a reluctant journey back to his Louisiana home and the two men together embark on a journey that will ultimately change their lives.

Brian Holers’s Doxology examines an impossibly difficult question: how does a man go about forgiving a God he has grown to despise after the tragedies and endless disappointments he has faced?

Follow Vernon and Jody on their road from loss to healing in this deep and moving book that will challenge and surprise you, as it takes you deep into the backwaters of rural Louisiana.

Doxology does for small town Louisiana men what Steel Magnolias did for small-town Louisiana women, exposing flaws while showcasing their inner strengths. It is a tale of grandfathers, fathers, sons and brothers, and recreates family dynamics and memories in a way that forms a doxology, a song of praise for the male family bond, the emotional ties men conceal from the world and each other.

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I think I shall need my hanky, if it really is like Steel Magnolias…

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2. The 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

The 5 Greatest Spankings of All TimeThe 5 Greatest Spankings of All Time by Rob Wood

“The 5 Greatest Spankings of all Time” invites you to step into a fifty-five year old time capsule, to a simpler time when the misadventures of three young brothers growing up on a small ranch in the 1950’s stretch their parent’s patience and sanity to the breaking point. Taking place in the shadows of World War II, this tale not only unfolds the amusing and humorous events that led up to the “5 Greatest Spankings” but it conveys a flavorful and reminiscent glimpse of a time gone by, as the tastes and smells of the 50’s come rushing back. Readers of any adult generation will be entertained by the boy’s ability to effortlessly transform relatively innocent intentions into calamity and chaos. Laced throughout the chapters is an unmistakable underlying message addressing family dynamics and relationships that will surely summon to mind events of your own childhood. May laughter and joy be your companions as you journey through the adventures with these 1950’s versions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

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I just know I’m going to be so jealous about the freedom allowed these children…but not the spankings! LOL

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3. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your KingdomThe Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

Debut author Christopher Healy takes us on a journey with four imperfect princes and their four improbable princesses, all of whom are trying to become perfect heroes–a fast-paced, funny, and fresh introduction to a world where everything, even our classic fairy tales, is not at all what it seems.

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It’s a glorious old-fashioned hardback, with dust jacket over a red “linen” cover with gold lettering. How absolutely perfect 😀
I have meantime read this book, the review is in manuscript and so will be appearing soon. In brief…it’s brilliant!

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4. Deadwater Lane by Stephen Barker

Deadwater LaneDeadwater Lane by Stephen Barker

Christopher Edmonds is on a mission to understand his old risk-taking, tearaway self.
There was an accident; an old man was killed one night when Christo and his mates were out racing their cars. Christo got the blame, and a head injury – that means his memory is not the best.
Soon Christo is back on the streets, without his licence and doing community service, helping out a lonely old man, Jimmy McBreen. What’s worse – his so called ‘friend’ has stolen his girl!
Inspired by a copy of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’, he begins to plot revenge – it’s just that sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expected.
A fast-paced, gasoline soaked story with a beating heart.

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I just love face-paced thriller mysteries!

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books bought from the hospital’s charity sale shelves:

1. Frankenstein #1 by Dean Koontz

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #1)Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic storoes of all time.  If you think you know the story, you know only half the truth.  Get ready for the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

DEAN KOONTZ’S PRODIGAL SON

Every city has its secrets.  But none as terrible as this.  His name is Deucalion, a tattoed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who’s travelled the centuries with a secret worse than death.  He arrives as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that it missing in himself.  Detective Carson O’Connor is coll, cynical, and every bit as tough as she looks.  Her partner Michael Maddison would back her all the way to Hell itself – and that just may be where this case ends up.  Fot the no-nonsense O’Connor is suddenly talking about an ages-old conspiracy, a near immortal race of beings, and killers that are more – and less – than human.  Soon it will be clear that as crazy as she sounds, the truth is even more ominous.  For their quarry isn’t merely a homicidal maniac – but his deranged maker.

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It’s a Dean Koontz book 😀

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2. Frankenstein #2 by Dean Koontz

City of Night (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #2)City of Night by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the legend, you know only half the truth. Here is the mystery, the myth, the terror, and the magic of…

DEAN KOONTZ’S CITY OF NIGHT

They are stronger, heal better, and think faster than any humans ever created–and they must be destroyed. But not even Victor Helios–once Frankenstein–can stop the engineered killers he’s set loose on a reign of terror through modern-day New Orleans. Now the only hope rests in a one-time “monster” and his all-too-human partners, Detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as Victor’s first and failed attempt to build the perfect human–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first Deucalion must destroy a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have imagined–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with one purpose: to replace us.

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 More Dean Koontz…. 🙂

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3. Frankenstein #3 by Dean Koontz

Dead and Alive (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, #3)Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

From the celebrated imagination of Dean Koontz comes a powerful reworking of one of the classic stories of all time. If you think you know the legend, you know only half the truth. Now the mesmerizing saga concludes. . . .

As a devastating hurricane approaches, as the benighted creations of Victor Helios begin to spin out of control, as New Orleans descends into chaos and the future of humanity hangs in the balance, the only hope rests with Victor’s first, failed attempt to build the perfect human. Deucalion’s centuries-old history began as the original manifestation of a soulless vision–and it is fated to end in the ultimate confrontation between a damned creature and his mad creator. But first they must face a monstrosity not even Victor’s malignant mind could have conceived–an indestructible entity that steps out of humankind’s collective nightmare with powers, and a purpose, beyond imagining.

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… and yet more…I feel a Fest coming on! I’m not sure why it says “the saga concludes” – I have Book Four, which I’ve just noticed I haven’t entered in an IML!  Maybe it will make it into a future “Owned Unread” Post…

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4. Demon Seed by by Dean Koontz

Demon SeedDemon Seed by Dean Koontz

A woman is imprisoned and tortured by her state-of-the-art computer security system — and its perverse desire…

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Variety – a Dean Koontz book not in the Frankenstein series!!

BOoks i’ve bought

1. The Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

The Secret ChamberThe Secret Chamber by Patrick Woodhead

Conspiracies, secrets and high-octane adventure in the Congo. Another gripping thriller from the author of The Forbidden Temple.

People have been disappearing in what the explorer Stanley called the black heart of Africa — the impenetrable forests of northern Congo. But when a brilliant young English doctor vanishes, alarm bells really start to ring. Intelligence chief Jack Milton sends a message to his godson Luca Matthews (The Forbidden Temple hero) in the Himalayas asking him to go to Africa and find Joshua. Reluctantly Luca obeys, but he is no longer the man he once was, traumatised by his part in the death of his best friend, his legendary climbing nerve shot to pieces. Meanwhile in Africa, mining troubleshooter and brilliant flying pilot, Beatrice (Bear) Makuru, also wants to brave the northern wilderness. Coltan is the mineral without which no mobile phone or computer would work. Explosions have been wrecking coltan mines. Bear needs to find out why. Her journey with Luca to Africa’s black heart is the beginning of an utterly terrifying sequence of events, uncovering a secret so simple yet so startling that it could rock the foundations of the civilised world.

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I bought this in the supermarket.  Having read the blurb, I decded an uncomplicated action book was just what I needed right then.  I have already read this one…so as usual, keep a look out for the review, which will follow…eventually!

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2. Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book by Glenys O’Connell

A straightforward, no nonsense guide to writing – and finishing – your book, no matter what your experience level.
All over the world, at this very moment, thousands of writers are starting a novel, full of enthusiasm for their ideas. But the vast majority of those novels will fizzle by Chapter Three – an estimated 98 per cent! And their disappointed creators will put their work away and give up on their dream. It’s not that they aren’t talented and it’s not that they don’t have good ideas – what they lack are the basic tools.
In this book you’ll learn how to:
* Each chapter comes with assignments that help you apply what you’ve learned to your own new or work-in-progress book.
* Identify the kind of novel you want to write, and understand the elements of a good, workable idea
* Understand story structure and how to use it to make your novel flow
* Create an outline that will get you through the dry spells of Writer’s Block
* Know the important elements you must have at the start and end of each chapter
* Build characters you’ll love to work with – and readers will love to read about
* Points of View – just who’s telling this story, anyway?
* Develop plot points and sub-plots to add texture to your story
* Understand the two different types of character motivation – and how to use them
* Tap into the magic of dialogue, and learn when narrative and backstory can help, or hinder, your story
* Keep your story flowing to a satisfying ending with all the loose ends tied up.
* By the end of the book, using the assignments, you should be working on your own chapter three and ready to sail through to The End.

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Officially, this is an IMM book, but I wanted to list it early. I saw this book in Lynsey’s Letterbox Love post of 17 June over on Narratively Speaking. At 77p for the kindle version, I thought I’d give it a go. I doubt I’ll ever write a book – or even a short story – but I might pick up some tips to make my reviews more interesting. Then again…never say never!!!

There isn’t a Goodreads entry for this book (yet), so the image is from Glenys O’Connell’s blog; if you click on it, it will take you to her blog.

free books from Mills & boon

1. The Spy’s Secret Family (Top Secret Deliveries #2) by Cindy Dees

The Spy's Secret FamilyThe Spy’s Secret Family by Cindy Dees

“Nobody’s messing with my baby”
Nick Cass wakes up in a hospital room with a case of amnesia–and a beautiful woman at his bedside. He only remembers that he was held captive for five grueling years. Surely he wouldn’t forget someone as easy on the eyes as Laura Delaney. But Laura assures him that she and their son are very real.
Laura never forgot the man who stole her heart six years ago–even after he disappeared. She knows Nick will someday have to face his demons. But that day is suddenly upon them when Nick’s past catches up to him and their son is kidnapped. Now he and Laura must rescue their child–and their last chance for a future together.

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Sent to me free by Mills and Boon

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2. Operation Baby Rescue (Top Secret Deliveries #3) by Beth Cornelison

Operation Baby RescueOperation Baby Rescue by Beth Cornelison

Elise Norris wants nothing more than to be a mother. Her joy turns to agony when newborn baby girl Grace dies mysteriously—before the single mom could even say goodbye. But grief-stricken Elise can’t shake the feeling that the final chapter of Grace’s story isn’t yet written….

As he works through his own tragic loss, widower Jared Coleman and his one-year-old daughter become captivated by Elise. But while investigating the strange circumstances behind Grace’s death, their new friend teeters close to an explosive secret. Can Jared protect her—or is he in over his head in a desperate life-or-death struggle?

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Sent ot me free by Mills and Boon

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Rereading this post, I had quite a haul that week! I’m going to need to take a long hard look at my TBR list when choosing what to read next, though they may have to wait until I get a few more reviews posted! It’s surprising how much time it takes to write and format a post. I thought this one was pretty much finished bar a few formatting tweaks; I’ve been sat here for about an hour and a half! I also realised that one of the things that stopped me posting was that I’ve been getting a number of these books onto or updated on Goodreads.
I hope that you all have been reading and acquiring in a similar fashion – leave me a link in the comments section and I’ll pop by and and have a look, and gain more inspiration!

Bookish Funny Friday (10)

A Cat Bookmark

Here is my tenth entry for Tina’s BFF picture parade.

I don’t remember seeing this entry in the book 101 Uses for a Dead Cat…but then again, that there cat looks to be still alive!  I wonder how effective it is as a long term bookmark?

Have a great weekend everyone.

There’s more information on BFF under my heading Fun Things which has a link to Martina’s blogpost and the meme picture in my RH sidebar also links to Tina’s post.  Come and join us and have some fun!