#BookReview for White Birch Graffiti by Jeff Van Valer

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My review for White Birch Graffiti, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

First of all, if you haven’t read the first book, The Light in the Trees, then you should! You can see my review and the Amazon links here.

White Birch Graffiti is set thirty years after the first book. Most of the characters return, in one way or another. Ted, the protagonist, is an ER doctor and is happily married, although he still has nightmares about that fateful night thirty years earlier. Little does he realise the nightmare is about to become real.

The story takes off straight away, drawing you in as events unfold in quick succession. There is one scene in particular at the beginning that left me speechless – the way the author describes it makes you feel as if you’re actually there, going through everything the character experiences.

This is a powerfully-written book about a terrible secret, one man’s fight against time during a race to power in the White House, and the people who are sacrificed on the way. It’s a story of friendship, power struggles, deceit, loss, and a grudgingly-mutual respect born from life-long animosity.

I was lucky enough to be asked to proofread this book by the author, so could read it before everyone else! I had already read the first book, which I enjoyed, and was completely blown away by this sequel. I highly recommend you read both!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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#BookReview for No Fourth River by Christine Clayfield

My review for No Fourth River by Christine Clayfield, 5/5 stars.

This is an emotional read, right from the start. It’s hard to believe what can go on in some families, and the author holds nothing back about her childhood experiences. From being sent to boarding school at the tender age of 5, to undergoing electric shock therapy for ‘medical reasons’, the first half of this book keeps you turning the pages, as you wonder how much more she will have to endure.

Then she manages to turn her life around – I won’t give away any spoilers here, but a life-changing event makes her determined to create a better life for herself. This part of the book is just as enthralling as the first, as the reader follows her journey to self-made success.

The author leaves encouraging messages at the end of the book, and I hope this helps other people in abusive situations realise that you can get out and you can have a better future. This may be a story of abuse, but it is also a story of the strength and courage it takes to get out of that cycle of abuse and live your life again.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

My audiobook journey, part one

A couple of months ago, I decided to look into the world of audiobooks, with the idea of doing one for my children’s book, Dreamland. I’d just put the book wide, using Draft2Digital, and noticed that they have a partnership with Findaway Voices, who produce audiobooks.

Intrigued, I signed up. They take your book details from D2D, and you let them know the genre of the book, what kind of voice you’re looking for, the style, etc. (I suggest you do some research on this, as it’s very important to know what you want.) After a few days, they email you to say there is a selection of narrators ready for you to listen to. Each narrator has a few samples you can listen to, plus their price per finished hour and the estimated total cost for your book. There isn’t the option of dividing royalties with Findaway, you have to pay the fees upfront.

I narrowed it down to two from my first selection, and requested an audition. I got an email thanking me for requesting an audition, and that they would be in touch within a week. About a week or so later, another email arrived saying that the auditions were ready. Excited, I listened to the 3-minute samples… and neither was right for my book. I was disappointed, but I knew I had to ask Findaway for another selection of narrators.

In the meantime, I’d started checking out ACX. They have narrators who will either divide the royalties or take an upfront fee*, and they have much more choice. I began to set up an account with them, and instantly ran into a problem – you can only go through ACX if you live in the US, Canada, UK or Ireland. I live in Italy. But I did find a comprehensive list of vocal styles, which I used to refine my request to Findaway for more narrators.

*From comments I found on the internet, it seems narrators will only accept dividing the royalties if your ebook/paperback is selling quite well. Makes sense, really.

Findaway got back to me with another selection of narrators. This time, armed with my new knowledge, I’d narrowed down the vocal styles I was looking for and got a much more appropriate selection. I listened to their samples, eliminating some, dithering over others, until I found her. The perfect narrator! Listening to her sample, she used different voices for each character and really threw herself into each role. I immediately requested an audition and waited.

Two weeks later, I hadn’t heard anything from them, so I sent them an email. They responded within a few hours, and the next day the audition was up on the site, ready for me to listen to. I was a bit apprehensive, as I really wanted this narrator to be the right one, but eventually clicked the play button.

She was every bit as good as I’d hoped she would be! I listened several times to the audition – hearing your book come to life like that is an incredible experience. So now I had an even bigger dilemma. Could I afford it? I won’t go into prices here, as each narrator has their own fee per finished hour (that means you pay per hour of audiobook, not the hours it took them to record it). Findaway Voices give you an estimate of the total cost, so it’s clear how much you’ll have to spend right from the beginning. (Up to this point, requesting narrators doesn’t cost you anything, and you can request as many times as you like until you find the right person.)

My husband and I did some calculations, and worked out that it was feasible. As to whether we’ll recoup the money – who knows? The paperback version sells a few copies, the ebook isn’t doing very well, due to the age group, I suppose, but perhaps an audiobook will do better. It’s probably going to be a long-term investment, so in the end you have to decide whether it’s something you really want to do, regardless of genre, profit, etc. Weigh up all the pros and cons before making your mind up.

After a lot of deliberation, we decided to go for it. I clicked on ‘Book the narrator’ with trembling finger. They emailed me back, thanking me, and telling me they would be in touch soon with the production details from the narrator. Within a couple of days, I was sent a contract confirming the price per finished hour, and an approximate completion date. I then had to virtually sign the agreement between myself and Findaway Voices for producing the audiobook. They also sent me a Production Guide for the narrator, where I could specify accents, pronunciation of names and places, vocal style, tone, anything that I thought could be useful to the narrator.

I asked whether I’ll be getting a copy myself of the audio files, and they said that I will be able to download all the files once everything is completed (and I’ve paid!). (ACX give the narrator and the author 25 codes each for free downloads they can distribute to bloggers, use as prizes, etc, but Findaway Voices don’t do this.)

I’m now waiting for the first 15 minutes of my audiobook. After listening to it, I’ll confirm that the narrator can go ahead, or I can suggest any necessary changes. After that, I won’t hear any more until the audiobook is completed. After making sure everything is OK, I will then pay.

Part two of my audiobook journey will describe what happens next!

I hope this has been of some help to you, and that I’ve covered everything that’s important. I’m new to all this, so am not an expert in any way, but if you have any questions, I’ll try to answer them, based on my own experiences. Please let me know if you have anything to add!

PS. A lot of people will suggest you make your own audiobook. I don’t recommend this unless you have acting experience, and access to a top of the range recording studio! When I asked about audiobooks in a readers’ group, the majority said they didn’t care if the accent is British or American, but they will stop listening if the book doesn’t grab them in the first few minutes.

 

 

 

#BookReview of A Time for New Beginnings by Mette Barfelt

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My review for A Time for New Beginnings by Mette Barfelt, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

I’ve read the first 2 books in the series, and each one gets better and better. Each book is centered around 2 characters, who turn up again in the next books. It’s like meeting old friends! This time, we follow the antics of newcomers Bettina and Preben as they deal with opening a guest house, a grumpy aunt who refuses to get out of bed, and much more.

The author’s descriptions of the fictional town of Solvik make you wish it was real, and I’d love to taste some of those pastries. Luckily, she’s included several recipes at the end, which I think I’m going to have to try some time soon!

This book deals with some tougher topics than the others, but the author has written about them in a sensitive way that doesn’t detract from the story. Her characters are always true to life – some are blustering idiots, some are plain spiteful, while others could be your best friend.

These cozy romances are a delight to read, and I look forward to the next one.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

#BookReview The Haunting of Hattie Hastings, Part One by Audrey Davis

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My review for The Haunting of Hattie Hastings, Part One by Audrey Davis, 5/5 stars. It also earns a Pink Quill Book Pick badge (click here for more information).

This is a fun, lighthearted book with some laugh out loud moments that’s easy to get into. The characters’ personalities come through immediately, and the bitter-sweet story draws you in. There are also a couple of side stories with Hattie’s mum, brother, and her best friend, which add depth to the book without distracting you from the main story.

Hattie gets annoyed by her husband, Gary, but she loves him really. A tragic event makes her realise just how much she loves him, and she has problems coming to terms with his death. But then Gary comes back – the trouble is, only Hattie can see or hear him. Worried friends and family try to help her, thinking grief has overcome her, until…

That cliffhanger definitely leaves you wanting more! I can’t wait to read part two and see what happens next. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun read with some poignant moments.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Best Cover Award for Dreamland!

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I was delighted to discover yesterday that Dreamland has won yet another award – that makes 4 now! This time, it was Our Author Gang’s choice for Best Children’s Book Cover. You can see all the winners here.

Blurb:

Daniel Green is a typical ten-year-old boy with just one difference – when he goes to sleep at night, he travels to Dreamland, a magical place where he can create amazing adventures using only his imagination.
But he is not alone. An evil being follows him into his enchanted world and joins forces with Stregona, the powerful witch who reigns over the Dark Forest. Together they are determined to destroy Dreamland.
Who is this dark entity, and what does he want with Danny?

A magical story for children age 9-12.

Dreamland is now available at all online retailers, in both digital and paperback format at this link: books2read.com/Dreamlands

Here is what some readers are saying about it:

“Dreamland is a riveting fairytale for children, with their parents reading it to them, or for preteens who enjoying reading for themselves. This story is full of giants, dragons, witches, and unicorns, and even more, who live in a land where children can go only in their dreams. The author cleverly leads the reader to a satisfying conclusion and it would be a great book for a child with a problem to solve or a loss to come to grips with.”

“The story is great entertaining and very well written. What I found such a big ‘plus’ is how the author unfolded an important message in the book for children and adults. Sometimes we need to stand still and look at our guilt feelings, forgive ourselves as Danny did with the help of his friends.”

“What an enchanting series of delightful stories. Danny’s adventures in Dreamland are sure to delight young readers. The tales are full of imaginations that are certain to enthrall young minds. Very entertaining.”

Here’s a photo of the paperback version, both front and back. The talented Francesco Valla at vallcovers.info designed the cover.

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#bookreview The Future of London (Books 1-3) by Mark Gillespie

My review for The Future of London (Books 1-3) by Mark Gillespie, 4/5 stars.

I like to read books that take me out of my comfort zone, and I’ll try most genres. The idea of this story appealed to me and I decided to give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised.

The story started off a bit slowly and it took me a while to get into it. But when it started to pick up, I found myself getting more and more involved in the story and the characters. I liked the way the point of view went from news presenters sitting in their cosy studios to the characters out on the streets, experiencing the harsh reality of London under siege.

From the second half of L-2011 up to Ghosts of London, the story really drew me in and I couldn’t put it down. It becomes a frightening look into a not so uncertain future, where reality and entertainment blur into each other with a terrible outcome. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

‘Dreamland’ by Julia E. Clements

A wonderful review, and another fabulous award for Dreamland!

Book Squirrel

Julia Clements DreamlandFilled with magic, unicorns, fairies and other fantastic stories, ‘Dreamland’ is a delightful children’s chapter book. Each chapter is a new adventure in which Danny learns to work with his strengths and face his fears.

The author has very effectively portrayed Danny as a regular kid, with a great imagination and sense of humour as well as his fears and flaws, so kids will easily relate to him and his responses to the things that happen in his stories.

This would be a great book for families to read together, or for individual reading for kids in MY and older. As an adult reader, I still found it engaging and entertaining.Acorn Award I Golden

‘Dreamland’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn for excellence.

Find your copy here.

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HER DEMONIC ANGEL is FREE on Amazon from 5th-6th June

I have this on my kindle – it’s free today and tomorrow!

Wordywoman world

Her demonic Angel NEW FRONT paperback cover awThe Kindle of HER DEMONIC ANGEL AND OTHER SHORT STORIES is FREE on Amazon from 5th-6th June.

Some of my fourteen short stories in HER DEMONIC ANGEL are stranger than others, but most are different shades of dark. I wrote them in a variety of genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. To whet your appetite, here are the titles of some of the short stories in the collection: Mirror, Mirror; The Boy They Called Dragon; The Day Nobody Gave A Damn; An Email From Jane; Stuff; Getting Rid Of The Enemy; Skin; Too Beautiful; Philately Will Get You Nowhere; In Memoriam.

“If you haven’t read any of this author’s other books, this is a great one to give readers a peek into a wonderful writer’s vivid mind.”

http://amzn.to/295kGjn for the U.K. Kindle edition. FREE 5th-6th June
http://amzn.to/29dSEpd for the U.S.A. Kindle edition. FREE 5th-6th June
http://amzn.to/295uZbl…

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