Thursday, 23 July 2015

Would you BUY or PASS (9)?

My weekly contribution to Rosie Amber's Friday Five Challenge ~ if you know what it's all about, please go down to the line of red stars to see my choice for this week.  If not, please read on!

The Friday Five Challenge is an interesting exercise for writers ~ it shows the little things that can put potential readers off that click-buy.  We click on a book because the cover appeals to us, but can be put off a purchase by the blurb, the price, or the reviews.

Anyone with a blog can join in ~ here's what you do:

IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier
2) Randomly choose a category
3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which instantly appeals
4) Read the book bio/description, and any other details
5) If there are reviews, check out a couple
6) Make an instant decision: would you BUY or PASS?

 
You can check out others' contributions on the #FridayFiveChallenge hashtag on Twitter, or see links at the end of this page.


*********  
This week, as it is the first day of my star sign of Leo, I put the word 'Lions' into the Amazon search.  As usual, I waded through a few pages of naked male torsos (it seems this style of book cover is deemed suitable for all genres), and the first cover that appealed to me was that of The Lion's Mouth by Anne Holt.


Analysis

Cover
I am attracted to anything that looks vaguely polar, so this worked for me - it's professionally done, too.  The testimonial on the front gave it an extra edge, too.

Price
£2.99 for 320 pages - a fair price
Blurb
Less than six months after taking office, the Norwegian Prime Minister is found dead. She has been shot in the head. But was it a politically motivated assassination or personal revenge?
The death shakes the country to its core. The hunt for her killer is complicated, intense and gruelling. Hanne Wilhelmsen must contain the scandal before a private tragedy becomes a public outrage, in what will become the most sensitive case of her career...
This is a story of lies, intrigue and politics. The Lion's Mouth questions who holds the power in Norway, and how far they will go to use it.

I'm not a huge lover of crime/political intrigue, but I am interested in Norway, and this is a well written blurb; it sounds great, actually!

Reviews
Seven on Amazon UK - an average of 3.3.  Not good!  They mostly say the plot is thin and unconvincing, with loose ends that didn't tie up, and that this author has written better books.  I looked on .com, too, and the reception was equally lukewarm.

Would I BUY or PASS?
PASS ~ the Norway aspect tempted me to download on Kindle Unlimited, rather than buy, until I read the reviews.  A plot like this has to really work, or it just ... doesn't.  Shame.

Friday Five Challenge posts by others - click the blogger's name.
YA Fantasy for Rosie Amber
A bestselling beach read on Between The Lines
Chick lit in Italy for Shelley Wilson
An average bit of sunshine for Alison Williams  



Friday, 17 July 2015

Would you BUY or PASS (8)?

My weekly contribution to Rosie Amber's Friday Five Challenge ~ if you know what it's all about, please go down to the line of red stars to see my choice for this week.  If not, please read on!

The Friday Five Challenge is an interesting exercise for writers ~ it shows the little things that can put potential readers off that click-buy.  We click on a book because the cover appeals to us, but can be put off a purchase by the blurb, the price, or the reviews.

Anyone with a blog can join in ~ here's what you do:

IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier
2) Randomly choose a category
3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which instantly appeals
4) Read the book bio/description, and any other details
5) If there are reviews, check out a couple
6) Make an instant decision: would you BUY or PASS?

 
You can check out others' contributions on the #FridayFiveChallenge hashtag on Twitter, or see links at the end of this page.

********* 
This week, as it is holiday season and nearly August (which also means BIRTHDAY for me and fellow Leos!) I put the word AUGUST into the Amazon search, and the first cover that appealed to me was that of Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen



Analysis

Cover
Isn't it great?  It's the colours, the simplicity, the angles, the unusual arty feel ~ my eye was drawn to it straight away.
Price
The Kindle copy is £4.31 for 320 pages - on the pricey side for a Kindle book, but it's a decent length, and if I really, really wanted to read it I'd still buy at under a fiver.  Not available on Kindle Unlimited.
Blurb
Everyone needs a place like Hopewell Cottage – a romantic holiday rental on a small, sunny island.
For Rose and Lottie, it’s a refuge from the frenzy of the school gates.
For Beverly, it’s a chance to say goodbye to two lost loves.
And for disgraced movie star Caroline, it offers the anonymity she craves.
But on tiny Little Lost Island, with its cocktail parties, tennis matches and Ladies’ Association for Beautification, will they really find the answers to their very modern problems? 

Well, I don't know about you, but I think that sounds fab, just the sort of thing I'd like to take on holiday ~ a nice, easy, self-indulgent sort of book!

Reviews
I learned from the reviews that it's a retelling of a book called Enchanted April that came out in 1922.  Only two on Amazon UK, both 3*.  There are 55 on Amazon.com, but a fair few 2 and 3*, and most of them say that the characters are weak.

Would I BUY or PASS?
Alas, it's ended up as a PASS.  Even for £4.31, I was considering it.  It was the reviews that put me off - in any novel, for me, the characters are the most important thing, because if I don't care about them I don't care about the setting or the plot.  Shame - it looked promising!

Friday Five Challenge posts by others:

Rosie Amber visits the Jazz Age HERE
Between The Lines chooses a domestic travel memoir HERE
Shelley Wilson does scary wolves HERE 
Lost in a Book gets dead in Cornwall HERE

Monday, 13 July 2015

Roll on October.....

Yes, some blogging subjects get done and done over and over again; there are some that make me go 'oh no not this again' every time I see them*.  I was just starting to write this when I realised that the anti-summer moan is probably a bit overdone now, too.  I am sure there are many who think, "I love summer, and I don't want to see another blog post moaning about flies and not being able to sleep at night."


Fair enough.  So I'll just stick my bit in quietly and hope it will only be read by those who agree with me!



The reasons I don't like summer

  • I've just been down south for a few days, from the frozen north east where I have lived for the past 6 years.  It's always hotter down there, and we were supposed to be in the midst of a heatwave last week, were we not?  On the first evening, out with friends, I wore some of those loose patterned culotte type things that look like an above-the-knee skirt, a loose-ish top and a short sleeved shrug.  From about 7 pm onwards, I was bloody freezing.  This is my moan: you never know where you are with the weather.  If you're going out in the winter you stick on a long sleeved, not too thick top (because pubs and restaurants always have the heating on too high), a coat, and you're good to go.  In the summer, you never know how hot or cold it's going to be.  I always get it wrong.
  • Those bloody late nights and early mornings.  Who really needs daylight at 10 pm?  However many sleep masks I wear, I still wake up at 5am most days.
  • I can no longer wear fake tan because my husband keeps moaning about it; he says it makes the bedclothes smell horrible.  I won't sunbathe because it's a waste of time, boring, gives you skin cancer and makes you look old.  I won't use sunbeds because ditto, plus the cost.  So in summer I have to either display unsightly white limbs, or be too hot in my clothes.  Unless it's one of the cold days (see first paragraph).  This problem does not arise in the winter.  I still wince at my unsightly white limbs, but at least no-one else has to see them.  Apart from my husband, whose choice it is that they are thus.  So there.
  • I am writing a novel, which means I need to be inside the house at my desk; I can't write in the garden (see last paragraph).  I do not want to look out of the window and feel guilty about not making the most of the weather.
  • It's harder to cover your fat bits in summer clothes than in winter ones. Unless you're young and gorgeous, winter clothes are generally more flattering.
  • I have very long, thick hair.  Heat makes my head sweat, which in turn makes my carefully straightened and smoothed hair look like an explosion in a mattress factory.  At the very least, it makes my fringe look silly.
  • I no longer live by the sea.  I quite liked summer when I did.  Apart from the fact that I was usually at work, of course.  If I could spend summer in an idyllic sea front cottage and have nothing to do but wander aimlessly along shores and country lanes, I may like it more.
  • Talking of gardens, I have to think about getting people to cut ours, something I can forget about between October and April.  Currently, the back garden is playing host to a little known jungle tribe.  Or it might be; it's so overgrown I can't tell.

Right, I think that's about it!  Feel free to add your whinges.  Or tell me I'm a moany old git and you never want to see another post complaining about summer.  For those who agree with me, please remember this:  July is much better than June.  The nights are beginning to draw in, slowly, slowly and it's another month nearer to autumn! 






*mindfulness



Friday, 3 July 2015

Would you BUY or PASS (7)?

My weekly contribution to Rosie Amber's Friday Five Challenge ~ if you know what it's all about, please go down to the line of blue stars to see my choice for this week.  If not, please read on!

The Friday Five Challenge is an interesting exercise for writers ~ it shows the little things that can put potential readers off that click-buy.  We click on a book because the cover appeals to us, but can be put off a purchase by the blurb, the price, or the reviews.

Anyone with a blog can join in ~ here's what you do:

IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier
2) Randomly choose a category
3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which instantly appeals
4) Read the book bio/description, and any other details
5) If there are reviews, check out a couple
6) Make an instant decision: would you BUY or PASS?

 
You can check out others' contributions on the #FridayFiveChallenge hashtag on Twitter, or see links at the end of this page.

*********

This week I put the word outlaws into the Amazon search.  I skimmed past several pages of covers showing naked but headless male torsos and very little else, and eventually my eyes fell on The Outlaws by Jason Vail.


Analysis

Cover
Me and my mediaeval pictures again!  Anything that looks vaguely Plantagenet makes me look twice ~ look, I promise, I really will keep off the history theme next week....

Price
£2.17 for... wait for it... 617 pages!  No-one can say he's trying to rip anyone off, anyway!

Blurb
Eustace FitzWalter, Giselle de Hafton, and Robert Attebrook could not be more different. Eustace is the bastard son of an earl, Giselle the sheltered daughter of a dotting gentry father, and Robert the son of an impoverished village carpenter.

In ordinary times, their lives would not intersect. But when Robert breaks his uncle out of Earl Roger FitzWalter’s gaol, he sets in motion a series of events that sends their lives colliding in a maelstrom of murder and revenge that drives them all outside the laws and customs of England.

Step into the tumultuous years of the Twelfth Century, and stand alongside Eustace as he schemes to inherit his father’s title, lands, and power, using every means within his grasp; Giselle as she fights to free herself from a forced marriage and to save her inheritance; and Robert as he struggles to rise above the limitations of his birth in the face of Eustace’s quest for vengeance.

A saga to rival Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, The Outlaws sweeps from serene English villages and quiet forest glens, to French battlefields, remote Welsh fortresses, and even the court of King Henry II, where nobles and clergy vie for power and wealth, and disputes are often decided with steel and blood.
 
That works for me!

Reviews
17, all 4 or 5*.  Not one negative comment.  I didn't see any by people who hadn't reviewed anything else.

Would I BUY or PASS?
Totally BUY! And already have.  Don't know when I'm going to get time to read such an epic, maybe after the next novel is completed.  A great find!


Friday Five Challenge posts by others:

Rosie Amber's amusing cricket book HERE 
Between The Lines' mystery HERE
Shelley Wilson's self-help HERE 
Barb Taub's summer time boxed set HERE 

 

Monday, 29 June 2015

I can't get that song out of my head....

.....grrrr!  I'm talking ear worms, which I was unaware for ages was the recognised term for them.


This morning, mine is a song from South Park, from the brilliant send up of Game of Thrones trilogy ~ it's not for the easily offended, by the way!  I watched the episode with this in two nights ago, and have been hearing it ever since.  It's funny, and clever, but I wish it would go away.  (For anyone who doesn't watch South Park, it follows an observation that a certain part of the male anatomy is featured in the show more frequently than the plot necessitates).


Usually, though, my ear worm is a song I hate, and they're mostly random, like  some 1970s hit that I thought was total dross even at the time.  Where do they come fromPuppy Love by Donny Osmond is a favourite (not), but I promise not to find a video from YouTube to put on here, lest you click on it by mistake and find yourself with it stuck in your head all day, too....

My most recurring one ever came about during my last job when I worked in the office of a small engineering firm.  At the end of most days I would file away the invoices for payment.  If I so much as laid eyes on one from Bookers Cash & Carry, I'd be hearing this toon for the next two days ~


Time is Tight by Booker T & the MGs ~ funny that it was never Green Onions, which I prefer, but that's ear worms for you, isn't it?!

Recently I watched all four episodes of the TV series Treme, and, thus, the theme tune was in my head on and off for several weeks.  I loved it that song, it was something I always liked hearing.  At first.....!  The theme of Treme is one of those vids that you can only watch Youtube ~ it's fab, and it's HERE, with some great bits of film, but beware.... 

I was talking about this on Twitter the other day, and discovered that my friend Judith Barrow suffers from advanced ear worm, as I do: it's not always music.  Someone else said the phrase 'spring forward, fall backwards' to illustrate the changing of the clocks, which Judith said then repeated itself in her head, over and over, all day.  However, it was not as bad as her worst one, which I'm sharing with you so you can sympathise.


What are your worst???? 


 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Before I started this self-publishing thing I used to....

  • Read the papers in bed on Sunday mornings and go to the pub.
  • Feel pleased when the phone rang, especially if it was a friend who would want a long chat.
  • Spend more time with my husband (eventually he gave up and got an Xbox).
  • Be thinner.
  • Have a cleaner house.
  • Spend proper time on Facebook, keeping up with friends far away, posting photos, playing Scrabble with virtual friends.
  • Cook proper food every evening.  Now I only get round to chopping vegetables about three evenings a week.  The rest of the time I dispel the hunger with diet coke and coffee, then, when I start to feel shaky, shove something in the microwave or make a toasted sandwich.
  • Go walking in the park most days (see 'be thinner' above).  Yes, yes, I know I still could, but I don't, because I want to get on with the nov, and by the time I need a break it'll be packed with kids coming out of school, and....
  • Not have a permanently tense neck and shoulders - I start out sitting properly but it never lasts!
  • Spend ages writing articles and other general funny stuff to amuse my friends.
  • Be able to watch a television drama without analysing the plot structure and characterisation.
  • Be able to read a book without picking the editing apart.
  • Keep up with a lot of my old friends by email.




I also used to....
  • Drink a bit too much, sometimes out of boredom; didn't matter if I felt a little fuzzy the next day.
  • Know nothing of the joys of Twitter ~ all those people I would never have virtually met!
  • Only read the books of my favourite few well known authors; when I hadn't got anyone new to read I'd just read all Douglas Kennedy/Elizabeth Jane Howard/Susan Howatch/Deborah Moggach all over again.
  • Feel permanently vaguely bored and frustrated all the time because I knew I had something in me that needed doing!
  • Feel bored sometimes, full stop.
  • Worry that I was frittering away the autumn of my life by doing nothing in particular.
  • Have a sister who did the weary commute every day instead of having her own successful proofreading business - it was me doing this that gave her the idea of starting up on her own.
  • Remember when I used to write all the time, (9 novels in the 1990s) and feel a bit pissed off with myself because I didn't do it anymore.  And wonder if I still could.... 
 




Friday, 26 June 2015

Would you BUY or PASS (6) ?

My weekly contribution to Rosie Amber's Friday Five Challenge ~ if you know what it's all about, please go down to the line of green stars to see my choice for this week.  If not, please read on!

The Friday Five Challenge is an interesting exercise for writers ~ it shows the little things that can put potential readers off that click-buy.  We click on a book because the cover appeals to us, but can be put off a purchase by the blurb, the price, or the reviews.

Anyone with a blog can join in ~ here's what you do:

IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier
2) Randomly choose a category
3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which instantly appeals
4) Read the book bio/description, and any other details
5) If there are reviews, check out a couple
6) Make an instant decision: would you BUY or PASS?

 
You can check out others' contributions on the #FridayFiveChallenge (click to see them) hashtag on Twitter

*********

This week I put a favourite subject of mine, Plantagenet Kings, into the Amazon search.  This was the first cover that appealed to me ~ Richard II is a king I know of only through Susan Howatch's brilliant The Wheel of Fortune and the BBC series, The Plantagenets.  This was my choice ~ DEATH KEEPS HIS COURT by Anselm Audley.  Alas, I didn't notice that it was a Kindle Single (a long short story of 78 pages), but my choice was made!

 
Analysis

Cover
Sprang out at me ~ my eye always zooms in on mediaeval type drawings.  Very nicely done, I thought; I like the way the background looks like old parchment or rough sackcloth.

Price
£1.99 ~ a bit pricey for 78 pages, but not too bad.

Blurb
Richard II was young, handsome, and elegant. Last living child of the brilliant Black Prince, he came to the throne bearing the hopes of his people on his shoulders. His court glittered; his tastes were refined; his portraits shone with gold. Regal, composed, aloof, he was the very picture of majesty.
He became a murderous, capricious tyrant. His favourites plotted against his family. He rewrote the laws of England to give himself absolute power. He raised an army against his own subjects.
His subjects deposed him. Twice.


This is the story of the forgotten civil war of 1387, which saw Richard set against his brave, ill-starred uncle Thomas of Woodstock. Of how a boy’s bright promise turned deadly, provoking his nobles to fear, flight, and finally open war. Of how a humiliated King set out on a course of vengeance which would cost him his life and sow the first fatal seeds of the Wars of the Roses.

From royal banquets to battles in the mist, Death Keeps His Court tells a tale of real-life tyranny, treachery and tragedy in the age which inspired A Game of Thrones. 


Makes it sound interesting, if slightly over the top; I can't see how a story such as this could be done justice in 78 pages, and the style is a tad eccentric.  I think the tenuous tie-in to A Game of Thrones is a bit naff.


Reviews
Nine very short ones, three by people who've reviewed nothing or almost nothing else, a few mentions of it being interesting but too short.  It's selling well, ie, it's at #2061 in the overall chart and #1 in three genre charts.  This amused me: one of the 4* reviewers has given classic Victorian comic novel Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K Jerome a paltry 1*; as this is one of the most stunning pieces in the history of literature, I don't rate his opinion too highly!

Would I BUY or PASS?
PASS-ish ~ I certainly wouldn't buy it at 1.99, unless it had a lot more reviews that had something to say other than 'interesting read'.  I would, however, download it via Kindle Unlimited, and probably will do once I've given one of my current ten back, just to see if it's any good.  So it's a half and half, really!