* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review which follows. *
Recently graduated from University, James is excited to get on with living the rest of his life. His existence in Canterbury seems to crawl by and his prospects are slim. With no job, no girlfriend, and without a place to call his own James drifts, all the while self-medicating himself with alcohol and women that mean nothing to him. One night, celebrating at a local pub with friends, James has a chance encounter with the elusive and stunningly beautiful Maisie. For James, Maisie is the stuff dreams are made of and he can’t shake her memory from his mind. He can’t wait to see her again, although it seems they are never in the right place at the same time.
Maisie has insurmountable problems of her own to contend with as her mother continues to lose touch with reality. Maisie struggles to live up to the demands her mother places upon her. Much like James, Maisie is floundering in an adult world while desperately trying to get on with the business of living and finding her own identity.
James and Maisie’s stories wrap around each other while both live in the small city of Canterbury. Their lives intertwine through their friends, families, and life circumstances. Jakes, the narrator of the story leads you into the contemporary lives of Canterbury’s younger population who are filled with hope at the beginning of their adult lives.
“The Faces of a Small City,” is Paul Stears debut novel. Although, the book starts out slowly, I found myself swept up in the descriptions of Canterbury, the people, and the many life situations that are thrown at the characters of Maisie and James. It was easy to identify with both, James and Maisie as each seemed to be real characters with strengths and weaknesses just like the rest of us.
A true coming of age love story, Stears does a marvelous job depicting and adding depth to the characters featured in this story. Many times I found myself reminiscing about my own first love experiences and how it felt to be that young again. Throughout the novel, a message of hope resounds in the face of formidable life obstacles. I really enjoyed seeing James and Maisie grow up and enter the next stage of their lives.
If you enjoy contemporary love stories with the backdrop of an English city to add culture and ambiance, you will enjoy this book. It is a quick read that will leave you feeling hope that there truly is someone out there for each of us, sometimes found right in the small city we live in.
Character Believability: 4 Flow and Pace: 3.5 Reader Engagement: 4 Reader Enrichment: 3.5 Reader Enjoyment: 4 Overall Rate:4
About Paul Stears:
PAUL STEARS has recently released his debut novel, “Faces of a Small City.” Graduating from Canterbury University in 2010, he spent his time working and writing. Born and bred in Kent, UK, he lives to write. You can follow him and find out more information about him at his blog: paulstearsauth.wordpress.com.
Please make certain to connect with Paul Stears through his Twitter @PaulStearsNews.
A few weeks ago I published a post in my blog asking for opinions and advice on paid promotions (everything, from blog tours, promos in well-known sites, to click per ads in social media sites, or places like Goodreads and now Amazon). I’m working on my next book (well, a series, but I explain more later) and I’ve never gone down the paid promotion route, but I wanted to give it a thought. Although I’ve read plenty about the subject, it’s not the same as having somebody you know or you have some connection with, sharing their first hand experience of giving you their opinion. I promised that if I got a sizeable amount of replies I’d collect them and produce another post sharing the comments and collective wisdom. The original post can be accessed here. It got quite a few comments, and it is one of the few posts where I got replies in other places I shared (Facebook, Twitter…). I was thinking about starting to compile the results soon and producing the promised post, and it occurred to me that sharing the post here, with so many authors from all walks of life, with completely different experiences, might add a fair amount of information that could be very useful. And, of course, I’d share the resulting post with all of you again.
And don’t worry, I fully understand what works for one person and one book doesn’t work for another, but we all have some “eureka” moments and some “Do’h” moments and they might be of use to somebody else.
Now I reproduce the original post (ah, the angel thing is because the series is called ‘Angelic Business’ and in pursuing ideas for covers I decided to take pictures of angels. So if you have any fantastic pictures on the subjects, or great ideas for covers, I’d be more than grateful. Oh, there are demons too, but not in the pictures, in the books.)
As all of you who read my blog every so often will know, I try to regularly write and publish books. I’ve also mentioned that my next W.I.P. is a series of NA novels Angelic Business. The three novels are now written and I’m in the process of translating them and revising (and let’s not forget the issues of finding covers, descriptions, blurbs…) them. By the way, if closer to the time when the project is ready people are interested in reading the first one of the novels ahead of publication, just let me know and I’ll happily send it to you in exchange for a comment (unless you hate it, then I might have to…not sure what. I’ll ask one of my friends who write horror novels for suggestions).
Those of you who are authors I’m sure have read tonnes of advice on having a marketing plan ahead of any publishing, the importance of having an author platform, building your presence in social media and all that blah, blah, blah. For what I see most of us try and follow that advice adapting it to our own abilities and personal style.
Although I’ve done quite a few of the things I’ve read about, there are some I have resisted to and I’m wondering about giving them a try (you know, so I can say I’ve tried it). I haven’t really tried paid advertising (I got my first book listed in a book club site and had an ad for a promo, both very low cost, with no results to speak of, and yes, now I know advertising your first book is unlikely to have much of an effect, but one lives and learns. Also tried a very low cost listing of my audio…not much to tell there either) or blog tours, and I was interested in knowing what you, my author friends who have tried them think of them. I’ve read about analytics and all that, so if you want to give me hard data, it will be welcome, but I’m more interested in personal experiences, gut feelings, and the ins and outs of things that only somebody who has tried can give. (I’m also fully aware that book genre, timing, style, and personal circumstances influence results, probably together with the phase of the moon, the energy of the pyramids and the leprechauns at work on that particular day). I have only participated in blog hops as a host, and I guess there will be differences between those the authors organise themselves, more or less informally, and those organised by a tried and tested company (or perhaps not…what is your experience?).
I know some sites like Bookbub are supposed to be the bees-knees, but I’m also aware of the difficulties in getting into it, the amount of reviews required, the price, and the fact that now big publishing companies are also using the service, so there are even fewer chances for the rest of us. But anything, anecdotal evidence, amazing discoveries, bitter disappointments, so-so results, will be welcome.
And I also would like to hear from readers who aren’t writers. How likely are you to buy books based on advertisements on book sites, blog tour posts or any other marketing strategies by authors not known to you? (And the offer about the book is also open to readers, of course).
If I get a “decent” amount of replies, I will collect them and do a follow-up post to share the collective “wisdom”. That’s a deal.
And I thought I’d leave you with a bit of the beginning of the third book in my trilogy (Pink, Angel or Demon?), where the main character, Pink, is wondering why everything that’s going on is happening to her:
All this is very well and good (not really, but you know what I mean), but nobody had bothered to answer why me. There was some kind of prophecy (or what passes for it in celestial and demonic circles) and I fitted in. One had to wonder where would prophecies come from in such spheres. (Or at least I did. I’ve been known to think far too much, and obeying De Bono, to think sideways. Look how far it’s got me!) I imagine somebody must fit in (and they were very insistent that I was the only one) but again, why me? No false modesty, but there isn’t anything that special about me. This is not one of these paranormal young adult books where the protagonist discovers that there’s a long history going back to the Middle-Ages of witches and special powers in her family. There’s no fay blood in my line, nobody I know regularly becomes a wolf or a dog or shifts shapes as far as I’m aware. And although the world is full of bloodsuckers, I’ve met no official vampires yet. I’ve never seen a ghost, and I don’t live in a haunted mansion. And although recently demons and angels wander around as if they were in season, to the best of my knowledge there’s no portal to the other world open in Hope Springs.
The draft of the first novel in the series Pink Matters is currently available in Wattpad, here. As mentioned in the body of the post, if you fancy getting the ready-to-publish version in a few weeks, just let me know and I’ll send it to you.
Thank you all for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, especially comment, and spread the word. And if you fancy clicking, don’t let me stop you!
I’ve carried on taking pictures of angels and other interesting things in cemeteries, so if you like any of them in particular, let me know. I’m after ideas for the covers!
Thanks to all the readers in Lit World Interviews and if you’ve already contributed to the original post, many thanks!