The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions

Greg Marcus’s immensely informative book, The Spiritual Practice of Good Actions, is written with a purpose—to help people learn how to feel in their heart what the mind understands.

In it the author points out, “When we practice Mussar we are adjusting and correcting our soul.” Undeniably, that is what this book will do for you! It is nothing short of a workout for the soul.

Learning how to achieve better balance within your soul is not an easy task. It can take time to develop and patient endurance to perfect. In the book Dr. Marcus guides you gently and teaches you thoroughly on how to do just that. The wide array of subjects discussed, humility, patience, gratitude, silence, to name a few, are addressed in a concise manner to not bog down the flow of the book, yet are thought-provoking enough to give contemplative pause.

I enthusiastically recommend this book. It was a blessing to have received this book to read and review. It is a book for everyone, regardless of religious affiliation. It is a great resource for anyone interested in learning how to approach life with greater balance and more insight. It is a wealth of concentrated nuggets of wisdom.

4.5 star book review by Jason E. Royle

Spiritual Practice review by Jason E. Royle

#Author Do you need a push for your campaign or promotion? Try Headtalk

Hi all:

If you recall, a few weeks back I wrote about the advantages of joining in multi-author promotional campaigns (read the post here) and one of them was the fact that you could learn from other authors.

Today, thanks to another multi-author event I’m taking part in (an audiobook giveaway for Thanksgiving), I’ve discovered something called HeadTalker. It seems to work in a similar way to Thunderclap (although I’ve never used Thunderclap), the idea being that you can set up a campaign, and ask other people to provide you support, via sharing on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and LinkedIn, although they can choose to share everywhere or only on some of them). You have to choose a goal, a number of people who has to offer their support, and if you reach that number, then on a set name and time, your message (the campaign with the message you’ve chosen and the link you decide to use) will automatically be shared by all these people wherever they’ve chosen to share it. So it’s a good way to make a bit of noise (for instance if you’re organising an event, having a launch, a special promo, whatever).

Here is what my HeadTalker looks like:

A Time For Giving! Audiobooks

Have a go  yourselves, and of course, we’d all be very grateful if you could share and support. And just in case you want to visit the event itself, here is the link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1090652230971258/

And don’t worry, it’s not me alone…

authors

So, have a go and see what you think.

Thanks so much for reading, and you know what to do, like, share, comment, and of course, CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

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Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand #BookReview

  • Title:  Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand
  • Author: K.T. Munson
  • Print Length: 164
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication Date: November 29, 2014
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Romance

When I first began reading Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand, my thought was “I’m going to really like this story.” Thankfully, I wasn’t at all disappointed. It had everything an avid reader wants: passion, hatred, love, magic, mystery.

The heroine of Zendar, Azel of a dying Bloodline, is strong-willed, pure and witty. She is a young woman who is already promised by her family to marry another. On her way across Zendar, her ship is attacked, and she comes face-to-face with Aleron, a ruthless leader who seeks revenge for the mistreatment of his ancestors, and wants nothing more but to rule every bit of Zendar. Aleron could have any woman he wants, but when Azel resists him, enticement toward her rises high within him.

Zendar starts off slowly, telling the much need to know history of Zendar and the Bloodlines. Once the world-building and the background are completed, we start the ground running with the present life of Azel, who is preparing to leave the only home she’d ever known to meet the future husband she’d never met.

The characters, from the walk-ons to the major were very believable, and you can’t help but want to know them more. Azel has a rare power which is powerful, but also has a major weakness. Along the line, she finds herself struggling against the duty to her family and the desires of her heart. We see Aleron as a leader, who is but a child that wants what he wants and usually gets his way.

Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand is a tightly written adventure, fast-paced, and I had to finish the novel in one sitting. There is nothing better than reading a book, which the images are so vivid, it’s as though you’re watching a movie. It is a novel that I may one day reread, and I hope that one day soon, a series will be in the works so that we may once again delve into the lives of Azel, Aleron, and their descendants.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

K.T. Munson is a freelance author. First published at 5 years old in the young writers conference, she has pursued writing ever since. She maintains a blog creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com that is about writing and her novels. She was born and raised in the last frontier, the great state of Alaska.

 

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Free Books to celebrate Halloween!

Celebrate Halloween early with a free copy of my book, Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling!

Click HERE to get it for Kindle NOW!

Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling Image

Also get the rest of the Pirate Tales series FREE by clicking HERE!

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Use Your Thesaurus with Caution

As writers, words are our friends. Our best times are when they flow from us with beauty or power. They can sometimes trip us up too though, when we overthink them. A thesaurus can be very helpful when you’re stuck for a good word, or when you want to avoid using the same word excessively in the same paragraph. It can sometimes take a nasty while to create a sentence when there’s only one word available that you can think of to convey what you want to say or project, or when you sort of remember the word you want, but it insists of hovering just south of your thinking mind. That font of awesome wordiness can also be a problem when overused. It’s not only adverb overuse that can get you in trouble, but also the use of too many big, flowery, or misinterpreted words sometimes. Some writers avoid the use of said like the plague, and can end up with some decidedly odd dialogue. Said is a great word. It’s innocuous and not noticed, and so the sentences spoken by your characters assume a natural flow. Much better she said than she expostulated.

Think about those times when you were happily reading a book, totally immersed in the story, and you got to a word or sentence that made you cringe and stopped you in your tracks. Not anything sweary or rude—those things can often make for fabulous dramatic flow, but something pretentious or jarring. Often what you want to get across becomes much clearer when you leave something out completely. It depends on the style of the particular story that you’re writing. If you’re writing a winsome story that you want your readers to perceive in a poetic way, then adjectives and adverbs are going to hold forth happily. If you’re writing a murder mystery then terse dialogue with or without he said and she said could be the way to go.

Mostly, if you say that “she left the building, saying…”, your readers will picture that vocal exit fully in their minds—we all have our own mind movies of the books we read. Unless you want to make a particularly peculiar point for current or future reference, saying that “she turned left out of the kitchen, adjusted her lime green maxi skirt with her damply perspiring petite fingers, and ambulated down the stairs before gushing the words…” is going to have most eyeballs attempting to absorb those words glazing over. That being said, never try to exterminate any adverb that comes to you. They have their place in all great works of fiction, and sometimes a few excessively floral words are just what is needed. Everything in moderation, but use a bit of everything in your writing. That’s the joy of the scribbler’s life. We, mostly, get to make the rules in our worlds.

 

@FTThum #BookReview ‘Santa and the Christmas Dragon’ by Amanda Roberts

With Christmas round the bend, it is a good time to review this children’s book.

santaTitle:          Santa and the Christmas Dragon
Author:          Amanda Roberts
Illustrator:   Cherith Vaughan
Translator:   Yaqian Gong
Publishers:     Two Americans in China Press (2016)
Format:          Hardcover
Website:         www.twoamericansinchina.com
Pages:             32
Genre:            Fiction – Children, Picture-book

What’s it about?

This children picture book tells the story of how Santa got to China. It is bilingual – presented in English, Chinese characters and Mandarin pinyin.

I had expected an education on Chinese culture, and how both cultures perceive Christmas. Instead, this book seeks to cross cultural boundaries, to connect our humanity through common themes – in this instance, good boys and girls deserving of gifts, and how gifts are welcomed. It encourages cultural sensitivity and understanding. I so want to know what the Dragon and Santa learned of each other’s culture.

I wish the fonts were larger and less ‘curly’; legibility is worth noting given the age of children to which it seems to target. The Chinese translation is appropriately lengthier to fit the rhythm of the Chinese language, its tone familiar to Chinese readers.

There are a few discrepancies, perhaps only to adult readers like myself. I will not list them, as this is a book for the young and their imagination. I see no need to taint it.

Would I recommend it?

Overall, an entertaining read. This beautifully illustrated bilingual children’s book will delight young readers.

Ratings:
Overall Rating:                  3/5

~ FlorenceT

@FTThum
MeaningsAndMusings

© 2016 LitWorldInterviews

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “The Murder of Manny Grimes,” BY AUTHOR @ANGELAKAYSBOOKS

the-murder-of-manny-grimes

  • Title:  The Murder of Manny Grimes
  • Author: Angela Kay
  • File Size: 683 KB
  • Print Length: 279 Pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: ThomasMax Publishing
  • Publication Date: September 20, 2016
  • Sold by:  Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B01LZ829WF
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Crime, Murder, Mystery & Suspense

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review*

In the Author’s Words:

“When three young boys stumble into Lieutenant Jim DeLong’s life one night during a winter storm, they claim they’ve seen a dead body by the swing sets of the Columbia County Elementary School. After he investigates, DeLong sees no evidence, not even a body. But were the boys telling the truth?

With the help of his oldest friend and mentor, former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun, DeLong sets out to find whether Manny Grimes is alive or dead. The further away he gets to the bottom of the mystery, the closer he comes to realize that his own life is falling apart.

Delving deeper into the murder of Manny Grimes, Lieutenant DeLong begins to unravel, losing his sense of control, falling into old temptations he spent years to overcome. Will he be able to move past his own demons and untangle the web of lies before it’s too late? “

My Recommendation:

The Murder of Manny Grimes is Angela Kay’s debut novel and it is a good one! I like strong characters in a novel and both Lieutenant Jim DeLong and former Naval investigator Russ Calhoun fit this bill.

The murder is complicated. After the three boys find the bloody body of Manny Grimes in the snow at their school, they decide to do the right thing and head for the police department to report the crime. When Lt. DeLong investigates the scene, he finds nothing. Either the body has been moved or the boys made up the story. It is an interesting dilemma.

For me, the star of the book is Jim DeLong. His journey to solve the murder of Manny Grimes takes him down a dark path. He is a truly troubled soul dealing with the demons he has allowed to torment him. His marriage is in a shambles, and he is forced to choose between his wife and daughter or to solve this murder. Manny Grimes’ death has become his compulsion. He can’t turn away from the problem.

On top of that, people he has known for years aren’t who they seem to be anymore. This forces DeLong to grapple with issues of betrayal and to face up to his own problems. The mystery actually forces DeLong to become a better man.

If you like the kind of mystery that takes you through some twists and turns, you will enjoy this story. I was even surprised by the ending, although there were a few clues along the way that led me to the killer. I would say it was an entertaining and satisfying novel to read.

hmmmm

 

 

 

 

A true Who Done It?

 

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 4
Reader Engagement: 4
Reader Enrichment: 4
Reader Enjoyment: 4
Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

4_stars_gold

 

 

 

angela-kay

Author, Angela Kay

About Angela Kay:

Equipped with a professional writing degree from Augusta State University, Angela Kay is a southern lady who spends her days and nights dreaming up new ways to solve dark murders of normal people.

Angela Kay is one of 23 across the United States to win a 2009 playwright contest for her one-act entitled “Digging Deeper.” Because of this, she was able to spend a week in Atlanta at the Horizon Theater Company.

She lives in Augusta, Georgia with her crazy calico, Maggie.

To watch a trailer for “The Murder of Manny Grimes,” click the link below.

You can find Angela Kay on Twitter @AngelaKaysBooks  Facebook at Angela Kay’s Books and her blog Angela Kay’s Books.com

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

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Holiday and seasonal #BookMarketing. Some tips.

Hi all:

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to find articles, books, podcasts, etc, that sound interesting in my day to day life, or in my visits through the internet and social media (much the same thing these days) and although I don’t have time, I decide to save them for later, for that perfect occasion when I’ll need just that piece of advice or tip. Yes, that perfect day rarely arrives.

Thanks to Unsplash.com for another great royalty free image
Thanks to Unsplash.com for another great royalty free image

Over a year ago (towards the end of 2015), having subscribed to Sandra Beckwith‘s newsletter (here is her website in case you’re interested. She has plenty of free content on marketing and promotions, and although she works more in non-fiction, it’s well-worth having a look), I saw that she was offering a service throughout the following year. For a very small fee (I’m not sure what it was but I think it was $1) she would send daily tips to your mailbox. I couldn’t resist and I signed for it. And I’ve been getting these tips. I decided to save them all in a document to make sure I could access them easily. Although I read them as they arrive, I haven’t done much organising and have not looked at them in depth, but now that we’re coming to a time when there are a lot of promotional campaigns being organised related to holidays and events (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year), I decided to check her advice and share it with you. Here are some of her tips, related to the subject:

  • Remember to pitch seasonal magazine articles or news items related to your book or its topic four to five months in advance of the season or holiday. Pitch four weeks out for newspapers. (We might already be late, but worth keeping in mind for next year).
  • Identify perennial seasonal topics you can link your book to – e.g., grief at the holidays or June weddings – and pitch yourself to the press as an expert available for interviews. Write a blog post about them. http://buildbookbuzz.com/8-ways-to-pitch-media-outlets/ This sounds like a pretty good idea, and although on the surface it might seem more relevant to non-fiction writers, personal circumstances vary, and if you think about it, you might find relevant topics you hadn’t thought about.
  • Use Chase’s Calendar of Events or the quirky monthly holidays listed at the Holiday Insights website to create a promotion around a relevant holiday or special occasion. http://www.holidayinsights.com/ In this global times, when we’re pitching to an ever increasing and larger market, it’s good to be able to localize our efforts and make them more relevant.
  • This is a personal suggestion, but I can’t say if it works or not. Just because you don’t have a book in a genre specifically relevant or suited to the holiday or season (a romance for San Valentine’s day or a Christmas tale for Xmas) that does not mean you can promote  your books. Try and be quirky and appeal at other interests… ‘Can’t take any more happy ever after? Why not check my horror story? (For San Valentine’s, for example). Or, ‘Thinking about murdering somebody during the family reunions? Read a crime thriller instead’ (for Christmas). See what you think, and if you decide to try it, let me know how it goes.
  • Unsplash.com
    Unsplash.com

Thanks very much to Sandra Beckwith for her suggestions, to all of your for reading, and do like, share, comment and CLICK!

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Dymon’s Lair #BookReview

 

  • File Size: 1632 KBDymon's Lair by [Nelson, Darrell B]
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publication Date: February 10, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01APTIAVG

 

Dymon’s Lair is a science fiction novel where the crew of the Fallon’s Angel takes refuge in our solar system. They’re aliens being hunted and their ship needs repairing. In order to fix their vessel and return home, they must work with Dymon, who is an evil man with the intention on stopping at nothing to rule the world.

This novel is heavy on rapes and graphic violence. Dymon’s employees are consistently being raped, which, to me, would be unrealistic to continue to work for him, no matter the cost, yet they do. It also relies mostly on the dialogue, rather than the narrative, so it was very difficult for me to visualize anything. However, the little bit of dialogue we’re given does do well in showing the reader what’s happening. There was some humor in the story, albeit corny or cheesy.

The characters were one-dimensional. I would have enjoyed more detail to them rather than having to rely on the dialogue.

This story had a lot of potential: fast-paced, twists and originality. If it had less graphic violence, more detail to the narrative, particularly where the aliens were concerned, I probably would have given it a higher rating. However, that’s not to say other fans of this genre wouldn’t enjoy this story.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

 

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Quick Tips for Paperback Page Numbering

When numbering the pages of your paperback manuscript, the thing quite a lot of Indies have trouble with is that they use Page Breaks rather than Section Breaks. A Page Break is just that—starting a new page within the same section of a book. With a Section Break you can have totally different numbers and Headers and Footers for each section. The way to ensure that your numbering doesn’t bounce back from the first chapter of your book to the front matter is to get rid of all the Page Breaks in first pages and replace them with Section Breaks.

page-break
Section Break after title page, and again after the table of contents, and every other page you have in your front matter.

section-break
Then double click into your Headers and Footers up to and including the first page of your first chapter, and unlick Link to Previous. This will ensure that all your previous book “sections” remain separate.

link-to-previous
Finally, go to the page where you want your numbering to begin and click on Insert > Page Number. Choose how and where you want your numbers to appear, and then click back out again. Your page numbers will now begin in the first chapter, leaving your front matter lovely and number and header free.

different
If you choose to use the Different Odd & Even Pages function so that you can have your author name on one page and your book title on the page facing it, sometimes all the numbering on either odd or even numbered pages will disappear. Simply click in to that footer and Insert page numbers again—it will automatically use the correct numbers.

Rather than be nervous when getting stuck into formatting for CreateSpace, make a copy of your manuscript and mess around with these things a little first to build your confidence. Try different things with different sections. Play with your numbers. Put them left or right, or be really daring and use Roman numerals. And remember, once you’ve got it right once, you have a template to use for your next book if the thought of doing it all from scratch is just too daunting.

#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Resolution,” BY AUTHOR @HUCKFINN76

resolution

  • Title:  Resolution: Huck Finn’s Greatest Adventure
  • Author: Andrew Joyce
  • File Size: 724 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN:
  •  Publisher: William Birch & Assoc.
  • Publication Date: April 13, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services, LLC
  •  Language: English
  • ASIN: B01E83YVJA
  • ISBN-10: 0692670904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692670903
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Action & Adventure, Historical Fiction, Biographical

*The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review*

In the Author’s Words:

“It is 1896 in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The largest gold strike in the annals of human history has just been made; however, word of the discovery will not reach the outside world for another year. By happenstance, a fifty-nine-year-old Huck Finn and his lady friend, Molly Lee, are on hand, but they are not interested in gold. They have come to that neck of the woods seeking adventure. Someone should have warned them, “Be careful what you wish for.” When disaster strikes, they volunteer to save the day by making an arduous six hundred mile journey by dog sled in the depths of a Yukon winter. They race against time, nature, and man. With the temperature hovering around seventy degrees below zero, they must fight every day if they are to live to see the next. On the frozen trail, they are put upon by murderers, hungry wolves, and hostile Indians, but those adversaries have nothing over the weather. At seventy below, your spit freezes a foot from your face. Your cheeks burn—your skin turns purple and black as it dies from the cold. You are in constant danger of losing fingers and toes to frostbite. It is into this world that Huck and Molly race. They cannot stop. They cannot turn back. They can only go on. Lives hang in the balance—including theirs.”

My recommendation:

I first met, Molly Lee McMasters in Andrew Joyce’s book entitled Molly Lee, the second volume in his Tom Sawyer-Huckleberry Finn adventure series. I fell in love with her character and style. Click HERE to read my review.

I was excited when Resolution came out and as usual, the author did not disappoint! Molly and Huck are so believable, I expected them to walk off the pages and shake my hand.

Resolution is the third book in the series and in my humble opinion, my favorite. Do you remember reading Call of the Wild, by Jack London when you were a kid? I must have read that book at least ten times. I enjoy a book where an animal becomes an entire piece of the narrative.

Let’s put it this way… A new star was born from the pages of this novel and his name is “Bright,” a Husky, and the lead sled dog. The personality of the dog shines throughout the novel. Huck and Bright share a special bond. This story would not have been the same without Bright leading the path back to civilization.

However, you can’t help but love the characters of Molly and Huck. They are the true heroes we think of staring in American westerns. Both characters are propelled through life by the morality and code of the old West. When they give their word, they mean it and they don’t abandon their friends, no matter who they may be.

One of my favorite things about Andrew Joyce’s writing is his use of rich descriptions. Through his accounts, I was transported back in time to 1896 Alaska. The gold rush had barely begun and trappers abandoned their traps for the lure of easy money. The visuals of the wilderness, the weather, and the people Huck and Molly met along the way were stunning.

Here is an example of a  description which took my breath away:

“…It had stopped snowing by the time twilight crept over the mountain. In gloaming’s grayness, one of the prominences of snow moved slightly. Without warning, as a volcano, it erupted and the man sat upright, throwing off his blanket of snowfall…”

When I read a novel, I want to close my eyes and imagine myself in that setting. Andrew Joyce’s skills in storytelling lead the reader on an amazing adventure where all of your senses come into play. In fact, I have one of those reading hangovers. You know, when the writing touches you and you miss the characters and the story…

Thank goodness, Golden Hair, another Andrew Joyce historical western is soon to be published. To peak your curiosity, I want to share the author’s note about the new book:

“Every death, murder, battle and outrage that I write about in this book actually took place—from the first to the last. The historical figures that play a role in my story were real people and I used their real names. I conjured up my protagonist only to weave together the various events conveyed in this fact-based tale of fiction.

This is American history.

Andrew Joyce”

Stay tuned! ❤

My Rating:

Character Believability: 5
Flow and Pace: 5
Reader Engagement: 5
Reader Enrichment: 5
Reader Enjoyment: 5
Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

5gold-star3

 

 

andrew-joyce

Author, Andrew Joyce

About Andrew Joyce:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN-UPS (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, YELLOW HAIR. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, MICK REILLY.

You can find Andrew on his blog, called Andrew Joyce.wordpress.com, on Twitter @huckfinn76, and on Facebook at Andrew Joyce

danny-on-couch

Andrew’s sidekick, Danny the Dog

Don’t forget to follow Andrew’s sidekick, Danny the Dog on Facebook, too. (He wants his share of the attention because he helps do the writing… :D)

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

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Indiana Belle #BookReview @JohnHeldt

  • File Size: 743 KBIndiana Belle (American Journey Book 3) by [Heldt, John A.]
  • Print Length: 295 pages
  • Publisher: John A. Heldt
  • Publication Date: April 14, 2016
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01E9UB7Z8
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

Summary: Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the “time-travel professor,” and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

Review: This is the third book in John Heldt’s American Journey series. I haven’t read the other two but was pleased to find that I didn’t need too. Indiana Belle is a standalone, which takes you back in time to the 1920s. I read each word, amazed at how vivid, imaginative and truthful the scenes were. Heldt obviously did his research in this time period–or did he actually discover a way to go back in time himself?

Cameron Coelho was a very interesting, refreshing character. I liked how he was determined to get answers one way or another, despite being your typical boy next door. The other characters held their own just as well.

The story starts out slow, but it’s to be expected, and after Cameron meets the professor who will ultimately send him back into the 1920s, it picks up and holds your attention. Once I got into reading, I found it extremely difficult to put down.

Heldt’s writing style is clear-cut and tight. He’s definitely a naturally born storyteller.

Indiana Belle is a story of romance, mystery, and history. This masterpiece of a time traveling story comes highly recommended. I look forward to reading more of Heldt’s novels.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Biography

John A. Heldt

John A. Heldt is the author of the critically acclaimed Northwest Passage and American Journey series. The former reference librarian and award-winning sportswriter has loved getting subjects and verbs to agree since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of the University of Oregon and the University of Iowa, Heldt is an avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. When not sending contemporary characters to the not-so-distant past, he weighs in on literature and life at johnheldt.blogspot.com.

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Of Bots and Beans #BookReview @ColinSpindler_Author

  • Title: Of Bots and BeansOf Bots and Beans: CULT Group Coffee Sequence A Sci-Fi Comedy in Four Volumes Volume 1 by [Spindler, Colin]
  • Print Length: 26 pages
  • Publication Date: July 28, 2016
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Format:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction

It took a while for me to finish this review because I wanted to reread it again, as I had trouble grasping it the first time. However, once I did reread it, I quite enjoyed it. The story is very descriptive and imaginative, and Colin did a wonderful job at getting his humor across.

I would be interested in seeing what other science fiction stories Colin can drum up in the future. I thank him for reaching out to me on Twitter to review his debut short story.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Biography

Colin Spindler

Aside from self-publishing coffee-flavored metaphysical space operas via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon Kindle Singles, Colin writes articles about video games at smashthegamestate.com and gamemoir.com.

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Magic Unveiled: An Anthology available NOW!

Magic UnveiledGotta have them all! 9 stories of the Magical Realism genre now available. You’ll be surprised.

 

 

USA Today and Amazon BESTSELLING Authors!

 

༺Uma༻

༺Uma༻ rated it it was amazing

( I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to authors Alesha Escobar and Devorah fox for making sure the copy was made available to me on NetGalley.)

BLURB

Either the wondrous or the perilous awaits us when we play a hand at magic.

A hard boiled detective chases the supernatural, unveiling a frightening world right alongside modern man’s. A mother, able to grant wishes, shows us we must be careful what we wish for. An African Orisha might just pass you in downtown Los Angeles, eager to siphon some of your energy so that he will not fade out of existence.

From heart wrenching, ghostly goodbyes to relatives, to discovering sparks of otherworldly magic permeating contemporary society, these nine tales of magical realism and paranormal fantasy come together to form this enchanting and gripping anthology.

OVERALL REVIEW OF THE BOOK

Magic Unveiled is a well put together anthology of, well, magical stories. The stories deal with wishes to witches, all of them crafted beautifully. My favourites were The Black Dagger Gods by Alesha Escobar, Journey to a new home by Jayme Beddingfield , and Gypsum Jane’s Inkscapes by H.M.Jones.

Each story is unique and deals with various topics but the one thing almost all the stories have in common are human emotions. The stories deal with loss, happiness, fear, hope among other emotions. Despite their fantastical character, the stories are highly relatable because of the emotions prevailing in them. The language and writing style of all the stories were beautiful and uncluttered enabling me to read the entire book in one sitting.

GYPSUM JANE’S INKSCAPES by H.M. Jones (5/5)

A beautiful story to start off the anthology. This story deals with loss, love and hope. The author crafts a story that teaches the reader the tragedy of loss and the need for hope. The descriptions are beautiful and the places described by the author in the story are etched in my mind. I connected with the protagonist and was able to see the story through his eyes.

THE BLACK DAGGER GODS by Alesha Escobar (5/5)

Oh my Gods! I want a sequel to this story! Maybe a whole series would satisfy my appetite for this story. The plot was unique and refreshing. The story starts off with a whole lot of suspense and I loved how the whole thing played out. The writing style was very descriptive and the characters very realistic. Reading about Gods being so human-like was highly enjoyable.

THE ISIS ENIGMA by Samantha LaFantasie (4.5/5)

Once again, I want a whole series!! The author leaves a huge part of the story to the readers imagination. While I liked the end, I don’t just want to have to imagine. I want to know! This story is a different take on witches and is interlaced with emotions. The emotions of the protagonist adds a three dimensional character to the plot that keeps the reader hooked.

UNUSUAL SUSPECT by Ronovan Hester (4.5/5)

The whole premise is different and intriguing. The story left me asking for more. This story deals with hell and evil souls. It was highly interesting and I personally liked Max! I love Kick-ass female characters and Max fits the description to the T.

JOURNEY TO A NEW HOME by Jayme Beddingfield (5/5)

If you thought only long novels about lost love can bring tears to your eyes,..think again. This short and sweet story pulled at my heartstrings and I teared up so much I had to take deep breaths every five sentences or so. Loved the innocence and beauty of the story so much.

THE DARK ONES by Samantha LaFantasie and Keith Goodno (4/5)

Once again,I want a whole series! The premise is exciting. The protagonist’s fear seeps into us and I found myself drawn into the story. The end of the story made me feel all bold and fearless. I felt feminist power surge into me at the end of the story.

THREE WISHES by Alice Marks (4/5)

It is a story about wishes as the title denotes. Being a person who always wishes at 11:11 I totally understand the need to make wishes every chance one gets because who knows! The wish might just come true. It is a light take on wishes with a deeper moral.

BLACKWING by Devorah Fox (4.5/5)

It is a short and sweet story that makes the reader feel good at the end of it. It is the kind of story that puts a smile on readers’ faces. It is a story of lighthearted magic that reaches out to us during the most unexpected of times.

MIRROR ME by Raven Oak (4.5/5)

It is so different from all fantasy stories I’ve read so far. It is an intriguing plot that touches on father-son relationships and human emotions. The protagonist is well rounded and carries the plot forward with ease. For some reason, I really loved the quote below from the story.-

“You try and shut out the world, and the world will swallow you.”

CONCLUSION

It is an amazing collection of magical stories that are unique and different from each other. A must read!

RATING

Its a full 5

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#Interview with author @ProfKellyOliver.

Kelly Oliver ImageToday’s interview is with the author of a book I reviewed not long ago called WOLF. I won’t say too much about it as she discusses it a bit in the interview, and you can read the review by clicking here. Now on to the interview.

You are very eclectic in your writings over the years. What lead you to writing fiction?

Since I discovered writing, I’ve relied on it to give my life meaning. I live to write.

As a philosopher, in my nonfiction, I write about ethics and ways to make the world a better place.

But, with fiction, I realized I could create a world. I could create a world and then live in it for a few months or years. I could create a world where women and girls come out on top.

How did Jessica James, a cowgirl, come to life? I understand the philosopher part, but I’m trying to get the cowgirl part.

Usually, it’s the other way around.  Folks get the cowgirl part, but scratch their heads at the philosophy part.

Some of Jessica’s story is based on my own experience, a working-class girl who grew up in Montana, Idaho and Washington, going to the big city for the first time to study philosophy, a mongrel amongst pedigreed Ivy Leaguers.

But, there’s a kind of funny story about how I came up with “cowgirl philosophy.” A few years ago, there was a move in the philosophy department to create a “Vanderbilt brand” so everyone would associate the Vanderbilt philosophy department with a special type graduate. I imagined taking a hot iron and branding our students as we handed them their diplomas. I got a bunch of the women philosophers together and joked that our brand should be cowgirl philosophy. One of my students made a logo for us with a really cute blonde long-haired Scottish cow that said “cowgirl philosophy.”  I still have that cowgirl philosophy sticker on my office door.

You have two stories running simultaneously in WOLF, how WOLF cover imagedifficult was it to keep things straight as you went along? By the way, you did a great job. I never got confused, even once.

Jessica James and Dmitry Durchenko are very different. In some ways, the brooding Russian janitor is more of a philosopher than the party-girl philosophy graduate student. So, it was easy to keep their stories straight. The harder part was bringing them together organically. I wanted the stories to become more intertwined as the novel progresses, so they’re intimately connected by the end of the book.

When I was sending out various drafts of the novel to get feedback from other writers, some loved Jessica and others loved Dmitry. At one point, when the Dmitry lovers were ahead in the polls, I had started and ended the novel with his perspective. But, in the end, I realized that the ongoing story is really Jessica’s, so I started and ended the novel with her. It just never felt quite right to start with Dmitry, even though he is an important, and hopefully compelling, character. And, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him!

How much of Jessica’s adventures pulled from actual events you’re aware of?

As I said, some of Jessica’s adventures are based on my own experience in graduate school.  But I plead the fifth on what parts.  I like how you asked about events that I’m “aware of”…maybe not being aware could get me off the hook for some of the more incriminating parts of the story. Jessica’s not the only one who drank too much whisky in graduate school.

You have Russian characters in your book, some are very important to the entire storyline. How did you go about getting the language just right? It was a very smooth transition from English to Russian. I thought it seemed very natural and not intruding at all when I was reading.

Thanks. I did a lot research on Russian sayings, culture, food, and drink, and, of course, the Russian mafia. And, I had a native Russian speaker check my use of Russian words and phrases. It was important to make it authentic.

Just before I started writing WOLF there was a huge FBI sting involving Russian mafia in New York that took in over 30 people on charges of illegal gambling, money laundering, and extortion. Some of my characters are inspired by people pinched in that operation, including a beautiful woman running a high stakes poker game for Hollywood movie stars, and the playboy son of a billionaire art dealer. I also learned that the Russian mafia is alive and well, not only in Russia, but in the U.S.. You don’t want to mess with those guys, so I don’t dare say more about my real-life mafia role models.

You discuss the date rape culture that is so prevalent on college campuses. I’m not sure how much goes on at Vanderbilt but I know cases happen where I’m from. So many even go unreported. What made you think of including that in your book? Did you do any particular research into it with victims? I mean you don’t go too much into details but there are some instances where research seems evident.

As I was writing WOLF, a high profile Vanderbilt rape case was making national headlines. It involved a woman who may have been drugged by something slipped into her blue cocktail, taken back to a dorm room, and then gang raped by a group of football players, instigated by her boyfriend. Because she was unconscious, she didn’t know she’d been raped until the police showed her video recordings the perpetrators had taken “for fun” and sent off to their friends. This case was so stunning, so mind-boggling, and so egregious, I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to find out something like that about yourself from a video.

That lead me to write my latest nonfiction book, HUNTING GIRLS: SEXUAL VIOLENCE FROM THE HUNGER GAMES TO CAMPUS RAPE. I was writing that book at the same time as WOLF. It was important to include the issue of party rape in the novel since it has become an epidemic on campus.

You did a great job of hiding in plain sight who the killer of the titular character was. Which is always the way with a great mystery. There were so many possibilities that when it was finally revealed, there was a bit of surprise, unless you were really following all closely. Writing a mystery, do you worry about revealing too much? How do you balance the hidden and the revealed?

Thanks. Yeah, it was a bit like Jessica who had the evidence proving the identity of the killer all along in the bottom of her backpack. The killer is there all the way through, and signs point to him, too. But, he’s not your usual sort of killer.

I was actually surprised to find out from some of my friends and COYOTE book imagereaders who they suspected. I was floored that lots of them suspected Jessica’s love interest, since I never intended him to be a suspect.  So, that was cool.

In my second Jessica James Mystery, COYOTE (out in August), the mystery is not so much who are the killers, but what happened in a highway accident eleven years ago that binds all of the main characters together in mysterious ways.

How important are beta readers or test readers for a book like yours? Do you have a target reader who reads your book and you ask, “How soon do you figure things out?”

I have an amazing developmental editor, Lisa Walsh, who reads everything and gives me very detailed feedback. I also have a trusted group of friends whose opinions I trust, and if they tell me something’s gotta go, it’s gone.

A lot of my friends are actually professional literary critics, so they are a tough crowd!

What’s been the reaction of your peers who’ve read the book? Are any of them worried they are the model for WOLF?

Hmmmm….given the continued headlines about sexual harassment by male professors, I don’t think there is too much danger of finding that needle in this haystack.

So far, all of my academic friends who’ve read WOLF tell me they love it!  Of course, they get the inside jokes.

How does Tennessee differ from having been a native of Washington State? I’ve been in the South my entire life so all I know is the laid back life.

As I mentioned, I grew up in the Northwest. I go back as often as I can. I miss the mountains. So, I usually spend part of the summer in Idaho near my folks, who live in Sandpoint. And, every winter, I make an x-country ski trip with my brother and sister-in-law to Glacier Park, Montana. Actually, my second novel, COYOTE, is set in Glacier Park. I love it there, especially in the winter when the park is deserted.

To me, the West is dusty brown, with wispy clouds racing across a Robin’s egg blue sky. It’s that sunburnt blister on my nose when I was a teenager dancing til dark at the street dance on the fourth of July. It’s huckleberry milkshakes and stopping in your tracks for a giant moose.

The South is sticky green, with thunderheads sending me into my moldy basement looking for flashlight batteries. It’s soggy turnip greens, deep fried pies, and painting chigger bites with nail polish. It’s the thickening of my waistline, my corneas, and my resume. And, now it’s home.

Get Books by Kelly Oliver @:

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Give Your eBook as Much Love as Your Paperback

WHEN formatting your paperback manuscript for CreateSpace you can get away with a fair amount of fancy formatting. Fancy fonts, dropcaps, inserted widgets, bullets, tables, and all sorts of other things can be used. Pretty much if it’s locked into your PDF it will appear in your book. If you can’t lock it into your PDF then it won’t appear in your paperback. A Kindle eBook on the other hand should be rather thought of as an HTML page – just like a web page. The same way that when you set up a post on your WordPress blog various HTML codes are used for different things, when your eBook gets translated into HTML for publishing it will take anything that would normally be written as code and try to use that, often with disastrous results – rather than the gorgeous bullet list or laboriously tabbed lists that took you ages to get just right.

Word will insert all sorts of hidden formatting as you type, and if you ever try to convert a manuscript already formatted with all sorts of lovely things for CreateSpace you could (very probably will) end up with a nasty hot mess, especially on older Kindles. We do want our eBooks to look good rather than being merely the containers for our stories and non-fiction. Traditional publishers drop the ball with this a lot more than Indie publishers. Their print books look great, but often the corresponding eBooks seem like afterthoughts. Conformity is the way to go and maybe putting in a little extra work is worth it to make sure that both versions are a pleasure to look at as well as to read.

Just a quick by the way. Writers are surprisingly different with the way they want their books set out. For instance, among many other personal choices, some like to use an em-dash for unfinished sentences, while others prefer to use an ellipse. (Remember for modern publishing, if you do use ellipses for half sentences, to insert a space between each dot.)
bullets-4 Some are absolute sticklers for what is “wrong” or “right”. Very few readers are going to even notice which one you use, but they WILL notice if you use both in the same story. They’ll wonder what the difference is, and possibly get irritated at not being able to figure that out. So stick to the same things as you type, even if that means sitting down and writing out a list. That might sound a little weird, but if you’re in two minds about some of the smaller issues you could often find yourself banging away and then coming to an abrupt halt wondering what you used before. If this is the case, you can use the Find function to look for both options and change them later, but it will make your life easier in the long run to pick a horse and run with it from the beginning.

Let’s have a look at a couple of other things we can safely use in our Kindle books.

Dropcaps are lovely to use in your paper book, but not possible as yet to use for MOBI conversion. You can still pretty them up a little though. For some of the newer Kindles you can make your first words in chapters or paragraphs stand out using Small caps. Older Kindles will just convert to normal text rather than making a mess of these, so they’re quite safe. All you do is highlight the word or words you’d like to appear this way, and then click on the arrow to the right of the Font box. Select Small caps and click OK.

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The highlighted word or words will than appear in the Small caps format.

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Word lists (bulleted or numbered) might convert very well for the newer Kindles, but not for the older ones. Always remember that there are a LOT of people who use older, bottom of the range Kindles, so never leave them out of your publishing decisions – put them first. Type out numbered lists rather than use the Word auto format feature. If you want a bulleted list, simply use the Insert function, type out item one, and then insert again for each item on your list.

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Use your Kindle Previewer to see how they translate across Kindle devices.

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For scene breaks you could once again use the Insert function and use three bullet points, or asterisks. You could think outside the box too and Insert a small design as a picture between each break. Get the better of boring fonts on your title page by using design software such as paint.net or an online one such as Canva to design a nice title page “image” using any fancy fonts and images you like, and once again insert as an image.

Finally, I think that there is a lot of scope for using bright full colour pictures in fiction eBooks. The cost is too small to be really noticeable, such as it is in paperback publishing, but the effect can be fabulous. Insert custom sketches or images from sites such as Pixabay between each chapter. You’re bound to find relevant and beautiful pictures there – they have piles available to use for free.
Never try to rush your eBook along by trying to “double format”. Always work on completely different manuscripts taking into consideration each publishing format, and you’re bound to have great Kindle books as well as beautiful paperbacks.

The Snow Queen – Cloth Bound and Beautiful

Here there Be Dragons!

This cloth bound, silver foiled, illustrated edition of Hans Christian Anderson’s timeless tale is even more beautiful than I expected it to be. The tall, skinny hardback feels gorgeous in your hand and the illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka create an atmosphere that combines with the beloved words into something that will stick with you. 41zbzfrlyul-_sx282_bo1204203200_

Published by Ten Speed Press, translated by Odense City Museums, this book brings to life the classic story of The Snow Queen with imagery that makes me feel a part of the story, and reminds me of the ancient picture book edition my mother no longer allows me to play with. Five out of five Dragons to this gorgeous book.

*I received the book in exchange for an honest review from blogging for books*

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#BOOK REVIEW BY @COLLEENCHESEBRO OF “Better Blogging with Photography: How to Maximize Your Blog Using Your Own Images,” BY AUTHOR @windigenredhead

    • Title:  Better Blogging With Photography
    • Author: Terri Webster Schrandt
    • File Size: 551 KB
    • Print Length: 50 pages
    •  Publisher: Second Wind Leisure Publishing
    • Publication Date: July 6, 2016
    • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
    •  Language: English
    • ASIN: B01I2NNLRU
    • Formats:  Kindle
    • Goodreads
    • Genres: Blogging & Blogs, Computer & Technology, Digital Photography

better-blogging-with-photography

 

**The author provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review which follows**

In the Author’s Words:

“There is truth to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. As a blogger, are you weary of constantly hunting for images to illustrate the subject of your blog posts? Perhaps you are a new blogger struggling to get more readers. Or a seasoned blogger continually seeking inspiration for quality blog posts. This guidebook is designed to help you utilize your own images on your blog or website. While free image sites abound, there are limitations to using so-called “free” images. Gone are the days when bloggers can innocently copy and paste an image from the web and paste it into their blog post. What will you get out of this guide? In each chapter, I give easy but important tips for maximizing the use of images on your blog’s website and within each blog post. Seven informative chapters walk you through– -the importance of using images; -the real dangers of using others’ copyrighted images; -easy ways to edit your images using free programs and apps; -building unending inspiration and content around your own images; -attracting readers with images used in quotations, blog link-ups, and other tools; -how social media sites link your images, and why you need them; -a list of image resources available. After reading this short guidebook, you will want to grab your smart phone or inexpensive digital camera and start taking photos!”

My Recommendation:

It was with great joy that I was introduced to Terri Webster Schrandt’s book, “Better Blogging with Photography.” The best part was that someone finally wrote a book which spelled out in detail how and where to find photos bloggers could use on their blogs without violating copyright laws. Not only does the author give you credible links, she also teaches you how to edit your own images. She concentrates on the WordPress blogging platform, however, all of the information can be applied to any site a blogger chooses.

If you are a beginning blogger or even a well-seasoned blogger, you will find each page jam-packed with information you will be able to immediately put to use on your own blog. Do you struggle with blog and header design? Guess what? That’s covered too!

In Chapter Four, the author discusses how your photos tell your stories. The emphasis here is how to gain inspiration from your own images by highlighting your written content with attention grabbing photos that draw readers to your posts. Everyone loves a great photo, so why not use your own to create interesting content on your blog?

This book would also be a handy reference guide for setting up your own blog.

hello-from-silverWhat are you waiting for? Grab your copy today! Terri has a free offer running from 9/29/16 – 10/3/16!

My Rating:

Character Believability: N/A

Flow and Pace: 4.5

Reader Engagement: 5

Reader Enrichment: 4.5

Reader Enjoyment: 4.5

Overall Rate: 4.5 out of 4 stars

terri-webster-schrandt

Author, Terri Webster Schrandt

About Terri Webster Schrandt:

Terri is a non-fiction writer and retired recreation and parks practitioner living in Northern California. As a university lecturer teaching leisure education in the recreation and parks major, Terri takes leisure very seriously because it involves one-third of our lives…really! Obtaining a Master’s Degree at age 50, Terri wrote her thesis on the Four Generations in the Workplace, sparking her love of writing at midlife. In addition to writing and blogging, she offers consultation services and conducts and presents workshops for a variety of organizations. Second Wind Leisure Perspectives is her blog about living a leisure lifestyle. Her active lifestyle involves windsurfing, stand-up paddling, camping, reading, writing, walking the dogs, traveling, and…

You can find Terri on Twitter @windigenredhead, on Facebook at Terri Webster Schrandt. And, if she’s not out taking photographs and having fun you can find her on her blog, Second Wind Leisure.com.

Book Review by @ColleenChesebro of silverthreading.com

Colleen 5.3.16

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#Bookreview THE BLACK NOTEBOOK by Patrick Modiano. Memory, fiction, writing and we’ll always have Paris

The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano
The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano

The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Mariner Books

Literary Fiction

Description

A writer’s notebook becomes the key that unlocks memories of a love formed and lost in 1960s Paris.

In the aftermath of Algeria’s war of independence, Paris was a city rife with suspicion and barely suppressed violence. Amid this tension, Jean, a young writer adrift, met and fell for Dannie, an enigmatic woman fleeing a troubled past. A half century later, with his old black notebook as a guide, he retraces this fateful period in his life, recounting how, through Dannie, he became mixed up with a group of unsavory characters connected by a shadowy crime. Soon Jean, too, was a person of interest to the detective pursuing their case–a detective who would prove instrumental in revealing Dannie’s darkest secret.  The Black Notebook bears all the hallmarks of this Nobel Prize–winning literary master’s unsettling and intensely atmospheric style, rendered in English by acclaimed translator Mark Polizzotti (Suspended Sentences). Once again, Modiano invites us into his unique world, a Paris infused with melancholy, uncertain danger, and the fading echoes of lost love.

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“1960s Paris, a mysterious girl, a group of shady characters, danger . . . Modiano’s folklore is set out from the beginning . . . and sheer magic follows once more.” — Vogue

“The prose — elliptical, muted, eloquent — falls on the reader like an enchantment . . . No one is currently writing such beautiful tales of loss, melancholy, and remembrance.” —Independent

“Sublime . . . [A] magnificent novel that reawakens days long past, illuminating them with a dazzling light.” — Elle (France)

In the aftermath of Algeria’s war of independence, Paris was a city rife with suspicion and barely suppressed violence. Amid this tension, Jean, a young writer adrift, met and fell for Dannie, an enigmatic woman fleeing a troubled past. A half century later, with his old black notebook as a guide, he retraces this fateful period in his life, recounting how, through Dannie, he became mixed up with a group of unsavory characters connected by a shadowy crime. Soon Jean, too, was a person of interest to the detective pursuing their case — a detective who would prove instrumental in revealing Dannie’s darkest secret.

The Black Notebook bears all the hallmarks of this Nobel Prize–winning literary master’s unsettling and intensely atmospheric style. Once again, Patrick Modiano invites us into his unique world, a Paris infused with melancholy, uncertain danger, and the fading echoes of lost love.

“Never before has Modiano written a novel as lyrical as this . . . Both carefully wrought and superbly fluid, sustained by pure poetry.” — Le Monde

Patrick Modiano is the author of more than twenty novels, including several bestsellers. He has won the Prix Goncourt, the Grand Prix National des Lettres, and many other honors. In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. He lives in Paris.

Mark Polizzotti has translated more than forty books from the French, including Modiano’s Suspended Sentences. He is director of the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
About the Author

PATRICK MODIANO was born in 1945 in a suburb of Paris and grew up in various locations throughout France. In 1967, he published his first novel, La Place de l’étoile, to great acclaim. Since then, he has published over twenty novels—including the Goncourt Prize−winning Rue des boutiques obscures (translated as Missing Person), Dora Bruder, and Les Boulevards des ceintures(translated as Ring Roads)—as well as the memoir Un Pedigree and a children’s book, Catherine Certitude. He collaborated with Louis Malle on the screenplay for the film Lacombe Lucien. In 2014, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy cited “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation,” calling him “a Marcel Proust of our time.”

 

MARK POLIZZOTTI has translated more than forty books from the French, including Patrick Modiano’s Suspended Sentences, and is director of the publications program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Black Notebook
The Black Notebook

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Mariner Books for providing me with a free ARC copy of this novel that I gladly reviewed.

This is the first of Patrick Modiano’s novels I read, so I can’t comment on its similarities or differences with the rest of his oeuvre or how well it fits in with his usual concerns.

The novel, translated into English by Mark Polizzotti, is a wander through his memories and the city of Paris by Jean, a writer who fifty years ago, when he was very young, kept a black notebook where he wrote all kinds of things: streets and people’s names, references to writers he admired and events he experienced, sentences people said, rumours, he recorded information about buildings that were about to disappear, dates, visits to places, locations…

The story can be read as a mystery novel, as there are clues referring to false identities, strange men who meet in underground hotels, breaking and entering, robberies and even a serious crime is hinted at. There’s a police interrogation and suggestions of political conspiracy/terrorism, as the original events take place shortly after Algeria’s War of Independence, and a few of the characters are Moroccan and have a reputation for being secretive and dangerous. There is also Dannie, a woman a few years older than Jean, who has a central role in all the intrigues, or at least that’s how it seemed to him at the time. What did he really feel for her? Is he revisiting a love story? Although it is possible to try a conventional reading of the novel, the joy of what French theorist Roland Barthes would call a readerly approach to it, is in making up your own meaning, in accompanying Jean in his walks not only around the real Paris, but also the Paris of his memory, those moments when he feels that he can almost recapture the past, through reading his notes, and relive the moment when he was knocking at a door, or observing outside of a café. Sometimes, more than recapturing the past he feels as if he could bridge the gap of time and go back: to recover a manuscript he forgot years ago, turn off a light that could give them away, or ask questions and clarifications about events he wasn’t aware of at the time.

The narration, in first person, puts the reader firmly inside of Jean’s head, observing and trying to make sense of the same clues he has access to, although in our case without the possible benefit of having lived the real events (if there is such a thing) at the time. But he insists he did not pay enough attention to things as they were happening, and acknowledges that often we can only evaluate the importance of events and people we come across in hindsight when we can revisit them with a different perspective.

The writing is beautiful, fluid, nostalgic, understated and intriguing at times. The book is also very short and it provides a good introduction to Modiano’s writing. But this is not a novel for readers who love the conventions and familiarity provided by specific genres and who want to know what to expect when they start reading, or those who like to have a clear plot and story, and need solid characters to connect with. Here, even the protagonist, Jean, remains a cypher or a stand-in for both, the reader and the writer.

I enjoyed the experience of reading this book, although as mentioned it is not a book for everyone. But, if you love Paris, enjoy a walk down memory lane, like books that make you work and think, have an open mind and are curious about Modiano’s work, I recommend it.

Links:

Kindle version: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B010R3862I/

Hardcover: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0857054899/

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0544779827/

Thanks for reading

Olga Núñez Miret

http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Portraits of the Dead #BookReview

  • Title: Portraits of the DeadPortraits of the Dead: A gripping serial killer thriller by [Nicholl, John]
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2016
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Format:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Psychological Thriller

I love reading books where you find yourself in the minds of the characters, whether they are the protagonist or the antagonist. So far, John Nicholl’s first two novels do just that, and now Portraits of the Dead is no exception.

When the story opens, we witness the kidnapping of nineteen-year-old Emma. She’s taken to a place where time has no meaning and she has only the voice of her captor to keep her company. Emma’s captor sees everything that she does. He rejoices in her pain, her fears. He makes her do certain things that delight him. To her, his name is Master. To him, Emma’s new name is Venus 6.

Emma wants to give up and die so that her misery is over with, however, her will to survive is too strong to allow her. Her captor has already eliminated five girls that look like Emma and wonders if she is finally the one he’s been searching for.

Portraits of the Dead is a dark psychological thriller that throws twists and turns at you at every corner. The characters are very well-rounded and believable in what they do and how they speak. The interactions the main detectives (Grav and Rankin) had with their suspects or witnesses were fun and entertaining to read. It was easy to imagine watching their exchanges rather than simply reading, which is one quality I require in a great book.

My only issue would be that the point of view would switch in a single paragraph, which at times threw me off; however, the storytelling was tight, so I paid little attention to the POV shifts as I moved through the plot line.

The ending has a twist that left my jaw clenched and my eyes raced across each line to see what would happen next…that’s as far as I am willing to go without giving anything away. I could not put this book down. it was fast-paced, riveting, dark, creepy, tense. Everything I love in a book.

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading several serial killer thrillers as a kind of research for my own work in progress, and I have to say that Portraits of the Dead is one of my favorites. As always, I look forward to more of Mr. Nicholls’ brilliant writing and recommend him for fans of psychological thrillers that grips you with no intention of letting go.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Biography

John Nicholl

John Nicholl’s debut novel: White is the coldest colour, a chilling dark psychological suspense thriller, draws on the author’s experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker. The novel entered the Amazon UK top 100 bestsellers chart after just 15 days, and became one of the 25 most read books on Kindle, reaching # 1 in British Detectives and Vigilante Justice. It also reached # 1 in British Detectives and Psychological Thrillers in France, # 1 in British Detectives and Psychological & Suspense in Spain, and # 1 in British Detectives and International Mysteries and Crime in Australia, where it reached # 10 of all books in the Kindle store. The gripping sequel: When evil calls your name, was published on the 31st of December 2015, and quickly reached # 1 in Biographies and Memoirs of Women in the UK, # 1 in Biographies and Memoirs of Criminals and International Mysteries and Crime in Australia, and # 1 in Violence in Society in the USA. Portraits of the dead, a gripping serial killer thriller, is available for pre-order from the 14, August 2016, with a 1st of September release date.

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