Friday, 31 July 2015

Would you BUY or PASS (10)?

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 mauve 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.


********* 
I chose 'Family Saga' this week - nice and normal!  Went through pages and pages and pages of 1940s looking women, then the usual kissing couples, until I hit on a cover that appealed: The Other Girl by Pam Jenoff.


Analysis

Cover
Most intriguing, and of course I was swayed by the 'international bestselling author' bit, though indeed I have seen that on many books by indie authors who aren't - I think it's genuine in this case, though.

Price
FREE!  No worries there, then.  It's only 52 pages long.

Blurb
Life in rural Poland during WWII brings a new set of challenges to Maria, estranged from her own family and left alone with her in-laws after her husband is sent to the front. For a young, newly pregnant wife, the days are especially cold, the nights unexpectedly lonely. The discovery of a girl hiding in the barn changes everything… Hannah is fleeing the German police who are taking Jews like her to special camps. Ignoring the risk to her own life and that of her unborn child, Maria is compelled to help. But in these dark days, no one can be trusted, and soon Maria finds her courage tested in ways she never expected and herself facing truths about her own family that the quiet village has kept buried for years.

Yes, that'll do for me!

Reviews
An average of 3.7 over 73 reviews, so a mixed bag.  Appears to be a preview for a longer novel.  The negative reviews say that it's 'odd' or 'strange', but some have reviewed with a low star simply because it's short, which is a bit of a shame for the writer.  Like, duh, it says it's 52 pages long....

Would I BUY or PASS?
BUY - or certainly download for nothing, which I already have.  I'll get round to reading it soon and give my verdict!

Friday Five Challenge posts by others:
A 1950s Somerset mystery on Between The Lines
Baking Day on Rosie Amber
Shelley Wilson made her selection from the word 'anniversary' 
Seaside zombies for Lost In A Book 
Barb Taub has more zombies - fairy tale ones!




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.  (note from 2017: I've since given in and started to used sunbeds...)
  • 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. (Note: July 2016 ~ I have now had the whole thing gravelled.  Back and front.  Best move ever!)

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