Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – In Your Defence By Sarah Langford

Here is the good reads blurb…

SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

‘A thoughtful, elegant book. … often as thrilling as a detective novel. ‘ – Thomas Grant, QC The Times.
____________________

Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might have been yours.

With remarkable candour, Sarah describes eleven cases which reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts: these are tales of domestic fall out, everyday burglary, sexual indiscretion, and children caught up in the law. They are sometimes shocking and they are often heart-stopping. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She also shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself.

This is a strange book, it is fascinating and does provide an insight into the world of the defence system but in some ways, it is lacking. you do begin to understand that the barrister generally has very little direct contact with their clients until the day of court. They do not always know the full backstories or the details of their clients day to day existence, and I think this is part of my issue with the book.

I am a lover of true crime, I am used to being told every detail leading up to the crimes, to knowing what happened next what happens after the trial and sentencing, I am used to seeing the full story. In this book, you only see a glimpse into this world. While the stories are each different and explore numerous aspects of the defence system in the different types of court you find yourself wanting more. Yes, in one aspect that certainly demonstrates the quality of the writing and the well-selected range of cases but it also means at the end of the book you are left feeling slightly unfulfilled.

I would still recommend the book for those who are interested in the law process and getting a better understanding of how the defence system works, it would be a good book to read on the beach or on a commute as the stories are easy to put down and pick up again, but if you are expecting a true-crime style detail-packed book you will be disappointed.

I give this 3.5 stars out of 5 and as usual, will round up on Goodreads as they do not allow for half marks.

 

Book Reviews

Book Review – Beautiful Freaks by Katie M. John

The edition I purchased came in two books and the cover is different to the one pictured below…

we begin as always with the Goodreads Blurb…

**** A PARANORMAL GOTHIC DETECTIVE TALE ****

From the Amazon bestselling writer of ‘The Knight Trilogy’ comes the stand alone novel fans have been waiting for. ‘Beautiful Freaks’ is a decadent tapestry of all things fairytale, dark and murderous.

Between these pages you will find yourself transported back in time to the high Gothic. Victorian London.

The year is 1899 and both the century and the Queen are dying. As the London populace is gripped by a terrifying series of paranormal murders, eighteen year old Kaspian Blackthorne finds himself on a decadent journey of self discovery.

Victorian London is a place where appearance is everything, but sometimes
appearances can be deceiving. Behind the grand houses, carriages and silks, London is a dark labyrinth of sorrow and violence. Amongst the gambling dens, dancehalls, and brothels you’ll find No 7, known to its members as Eve’s; the most exclusive club in London, infamous for its ‘Palace of Beautiful Freaks’. Each exhibit has a history, each their own unique story.

First, I would like to discuss how this is written, there is, of course, an overriding arc, however, it is the detail given to each individual story within the narrative which really brings the Gothic feel to the fore. This book could have easily have been printed back in Victorian times as a Penny Dreadful or as a series as favoured by Dickens.

The individual tales based on various myths and legends are each well written and each given equal attention, over the top of all this you have the main detective story, though it could equally be described as a love story, the author weaves together love, lust, obsession, and death in a dark journey through alleyways and boudoirs alike.

I highly recommend this book, the chapters make it easy to pick up and put down without losing track of where you are but the reality is you won’t want to put it down.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
Book Reviews · Monday Musings

Book Review – Afterlife (Afterlife Saga #1) by Stephanie Hudson

I decided to give this book a try after the author handed out a leaflet with a sample chapter at a book signing event, it has been a while since I read a paranormal romance but the sample grabbed me…

We start as always with the Goodreads blurb.

Afterlife… just some gothic nightclub where gossip is fuelled by the presence of a rich and unearthly, handsome family or Afterlife…the strange place where time seems to stand still and guests feel the presence of something more powerful held within the confines of the VIP.

Keira is new to this small, cold town and is running from a past that seems to feast on her darkest memories. She finds living with her sister away from English soil to be just the ticket to the new life she is trying desperately to find. So when the offer of a job at the infamous Gothic nightclub Afterlife comes along she thinks that lady luck has finally found her. That is until its seductively dark and forbidding owner Dominic Draven sets eyes on her. All at once she is captivated and plunged into a world she never knew existed but the deeper her obsession with Draven becomes, the harder it is to decide…should she stay and continue to work within the shadows of the supernatural or should she run from a madness she thinks may consume her?

Warning: This book is amazingly addictive, with its dark mystery, haunting horror, seductive twists and one sexy dark lord that has the reader drooling every time the name Draven appears on the page!

I have to say this was really easy to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it, there were times where I got frustrated with the allusions to Keira’s dark past. As the story unravelled I understood why it was done the way it was but I do wish that it had either come earlier or her past been referred to slightly less however that is a personal preference.

The world building was good and I felt the author conveyed small town American in a way that was relatable to someone who has never been there. The characters were well rounded and likeable, occasionally I felt I would have like to know more about certain characters or plot point but because of the point of view this was not always possible however I look forward to reading more and hopefully seeing things from other viewpoints.

I dont want to give away too much but I did really like the twist on the ‘unearthly family

If I had found the series as a teenager I would have been in heaven, as an older reader I still got enjoyment from reading this book and though I wavered between 4.5 and 5 I am going to give it the full 5 out of 5 stars.

3d rendering of 5 gold stars
1. Monday · Book Reviews

Book Review – My Journey: Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer. By Lavinia Urban

*Disclaimer I have met this author and do consider her a friend however as always the review will be 100% honest.

5

The Goodreads blurb reads…

2017 was one of the hardest times of my life. It was the year I was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
In this book I lay everything bare and tell you what it is really like living with cancer.

I met Lavinia last year at Darker, by that point she was already fighting cancer. She was talking about it a little on social media however the things she relates in this book are in many cases far more personal yet show the amazing sense of humour and courage which has endeared her to so many people. When you get any serious illness there are so many little things that only other people who have suffered it can tell you, sometimes you are scared to ask in case it is just you or people will look at you differently. This is not a book about the drugs, given the conversations with doctors, or a deep philospophical discussion on the meaning of life. this is so much more. This is a no frills look at the realities of living with this terrible disease and the way this affects not only the person receiving the diagnosis but also those nearest and dearest to them.

It is a story of hope, love and laughter but there is a glimpse of the darkness threatening this remarkable family lurking in the background. I am biased not because I have met this author but because I admire her spirit and strength and believe she is truly inspirational. Almost every person I know has been touched by Cancer one way or another and thiere are parts of this book that will make you laugh, and cry. If you know someone just starting a fight against this disease buy them this book, let them know that they can fight it but also that they should never be afraid to ask anything. I can only give this book one score and that is 5 out of 5 gold stars.

You can learn more about Lavinia and her fiction here https://www.facebook.com/LaviniaUrbanAuthor/

My Books

Voices Across The Void Review

I am going to begin getting the posts back in order next week but I wanted to share this awesome review I got on Goodreads.

If you’re into mystery, suspension, with a touch of scary then ‘Voices Across The Void,’ is the book for you. This book will give you all of that, and some surprise emotions as well.
There were several stand-out stories for me; The Cottage is one of them, this is a story about redemption, closer, and self-evaluation. At least, that’s how I felt when reading it. The Hospital was another; although tragic, it was beautiful at the same time. Finally; The Bluebell Woods, I don’t have enough woods in me to express how this story made me feel, the emotions I felt while reading it surprised, and shocked me a little. I went from fear to anger so fast that I stopped reading the book for a while. I knew that I had to finish The Bluebell Woods just so that I could have some peace, that story stuck in my head! My worst damn nightmare as they say! I cried, became bitter, laughed, and rejoiced finally at the conclusion of the story.
This was a great book; it kept me entertained during the holidays and cold, blustery days and nights. I would read this author again, just to see if she can pull that emotion from me again!

it is always such a good feeling to get good reviews but even better when you know you evoked such strong feelings with your book. If you have not had chance to read this book yet you can find it here myBook.to/VoicesAcrossVoid and remember it is free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

 

Resolutions 2018

Resolutions 2018

The start of a new year means one thing! Yes, it is time to make a load of resolutions that I will fail at during the year! To be fair last year we a strange year and though I failed to meet my goals for the year I did learn a lot about myself, I also learnt not to dwell on the failures so rather than rounding up last year I shall focus on the positives, things like I did my first book signing and I became a grandma, those two things meant more to me than anything else that happened last year so let’s get straight on with our new goals and look to the future.

1.  Release Queen Of Ages Book Two; Reawakening

I have already begun work on this book and am hoping to get it finished quickly, I did get distracted at the end of last year by the arrival of my grandson but now I need to focus on getting back into a set writing routine and meet my aim of three books per year, I am really excited to get this series out there especially after the reviews and feedback I have been getting from the first book.

2.  Lose four stone in weight

I know I said this last year and while I did not lose weight last year I didn’t put any more on. I need to start doing this not for how I look but for my health I am getting older and obviously the more weight you carry the greater the strain on your bones and organs, I am aiming to take it slowly and yes, I need to lose more than the four I have stated but I want to do it at a rate where not only does it have a better chance of staying off but it also reduces the risk of ending up with baggy skin after. Plus I bought some awesome suits   in the next couple of sizes down that I want to be able to get some wear out of 😀

3.  Blog at least four times a week consistantly

I tend to either blog every day or not blog at all so for this next year I am going to take the pressure off myself a little, Mondays will still be book/audiobook/dvd reviews, I hope to get back to throwing some author interviews in there as well once more. Tuesdays will be the posts about events and my experiences with the writing/publishing experiences, these will also include my personal feelings about my writing journey. Wednesdays will be WIP in progress and my book promotion days, I will share reviews on the books I have already published as well as discussing the books I am working on and my ideas for future works. Fridays will still be vlog day though I am looking to make changes there as will be discussed later. Sundays will be lazy sunday posts where I will just chat with you fill you in on my week and a little more or my personal life, of course if you want to know more of my day to day goings on my Faceook page or Instagram are probably the best places to keep up with me.

4.  Release Queen of Ages Book Three: Redemption

As with the first resolution I am determined to up my output this year and get into a pattern of two to three releases each year, this year I am aiming to get the remaining parts of this trilogy out and possibly look into a hard back ominbus edition for the festive period next year however that ties in with other resolutions so it remains to be seen what the options are.

5.  Walk 50k steps per week

Previously I had the target of 10k steps a day totalling 70k for a week however I am now being more realisitic, I struggle on work days to fit in all my steps at times so by giving myself more leeway I believe that this goal is more achievable I am also determined to use the apps on my phone, xbox and my cross trainer more to increase the amount of exercise I am doing and try to add in doing one of my dance/exercise videos once a week.

6.  Publish four Quarterly newsletters

I swapped from monthly to quarterly because I was struggling to get the content worth sending out, now I have changed to quarlerly I just need to iron out the timing for the newsletters in terms of tying in with live events which I may wish to utilise in terns of the giveaways be that either collecting things to put in the prizes or offering chances to win tickets.

7.  Release Dragon’s Mark, Book One of the Raven Seer Chronicles

This would be the third release of the year and to be fair it is a quarter done already. I had initially intended to do this as a stand alone book however as I worked on it I realied the potiential for this to be an on going fantasy series.

8.  Vlog once a week

Like the blogging I have been hit and miss with the vlogs so my goal is this year to not only produce one a week but to also include more footage from my week and make them more interesting, not just me sat talking at a screen for five minutes unprepared. I also want to increase the production quality of the vlogs and make them more exciting for those who supoprt me by watching them.

9.  Write 1k fiction every day

This year I attempted NanoWriMo and failed miserably, yes there were other things which affected my writing time but if I want to make this my living then I need to focus and make it happen. By writing just 1k per day I could easily write three books a year, the only person stopping me is me.

10.  Fix Office hours for my writing and stick to them

I tend to get distracted, I turn FB on or stop to get up and go do other things so the answer is simple I need to set up my office hours and stick to them, now to be fair they cannot be the same every day as I work different shifts and have other commitments, and once my daughter goes back to work I will also have extra childcare considerations but I have a timer I use which uses the Pomodoro method, work thirty minutes on and then a fifteen minute break so when I have blocks of time I can sit at the computer I will use the timer and only look at FB etc during the fifteen minute breaks, I will also use that time as well to get up from my desk and move around trying to fit in a few extra steps each hour.

11.  Work on reducing the minus balance in my accounts

Right now if I were trying to exist purely on my writing as a business I would be bancrupt, thankfully the day job is still there to pay the bills but I need now to step up my writing game. As I increase the number of signing events I wish to attended the greater the expense so it becomes all the more important to start making them pay, this means more books to sell, more swag for sale and working out better ways to do giveaways and swag etc. I am realistic enough to know this does not happen over night, I am just over a year into a five year plan, I might not be in as good a shape as I would like but I have learnt lessons and am working on it, I am still positive my long term goal is possible.

12.  Set up Ravens Rest Press

Using Createspace has many positive and negative points, one of the harder pills to swallow is the cost of shipping books from the US I have no idea why they cannot print them in the UK as they print the books bought via amazon here on demand, the main thing about using other outlets is the fact you buy your own ISBN numbers  which means you can set up your own print imprint and get your books into libraries and book shops easier. You can also get expanded distribution networks for the books you have with them, I believe there is also the possibility of hardback issues which I would love to be able to do for the trilogy and maybe special editions of other books.

13.  Update all published works edits and biograhies regularly

I have got into the habit of updating all my social media posts to match, what I have failed to do is go back and update the also by this other sections of my previous books, alter the odd typo that I find and update the images in the books, this is something that I need to get into the habit of doing more often so that when I have a new book come out I know that the others will only require the minimum of alteration.

14.  Meet someone special

So this one is one I cannot actually make come true, and at the minute I am not really in a position to actively seek someone but rather this is more about allowing myself to be open to the idea of meeting someone, to not send out negative vibes when approached and to be open to the idea that a relationship does not have to be negative. I finally feel like I have shed the emotional baggage from my previous relationship, and while it will still take someone very special to make me invest my emotions in them I am not totally averse to that idea any longer, for me that is already a huge step.

Signings & Events

Read And Relax – The Book Lovers Subscription

A few weeks ago I told you about taking a chance and reaching out to a book subscription service, well now in a few days next months box launches including swag from yours truly!

So what is Read and Relax, well the best way to explain is to share their ethos from their own website…

Read and Relax is a new subscription site dedicated to keeping second-hand books alive.

The idea for Read And Relax came to me one afternoon whilst I was browsing the internet. I, probably much like yourself, was looking for a monthly book subscription. What I found were expensive offers (which contained more useless merchandise then books). If my book came with anything I would want it to be useful – I hoard enough as it is! As a teacher, I don’t have countless disposable income and therefore I began to reach the stage where I was going to give up – I just couldn’t get myself to part with that much money! That is when Read And Relax was born.

My vision  is to not only provide budget-friendly monthly boxes but to also save second-hand books from the tip hence  supporting a wide range of charities at the same time. As a thank you from me to you, parcels will also include a treat: sometimes this might be something to eat, other times it may be a delicious smelling candle, perhaps a mug to harvest that well deserved tea at the end of the day… to name just a few. Whatever it is, I promise that it will be useful and relaxing.

Alas, on such a budget, I cannot provide the latest book to my customers: but what I can do is hand-pick them novels from charity stores which match their genre preferences. Since starting this service my weekends, and quite happily, have been used to browse shops, read reviews and purchase literature for my followers. I, so far, have received a number of great reviews and just hope that this service is not only what I was looking for, but what you were looking for too. 

Together we can do three things: support charities, revive books and read!

So why does this project excite me, I want to sell my books? Simple, the reason I started writing was I love reading, I love stories and I love books, and now as a self-published author I strive to share my work with people who I think will love it. When you join this subscription service you get to choose the genres you would like to receive books in, maybe you chose the safe options you know you will like and risk the odd book you may have already read or you take a chance, chose an unknown genre. I think of this service a little like trusting a friend to pick your next book for you, and if you get a book you don’t like, you have only spent the same as you might have buying a new book but have the feel-good factor of knowing these books have been purchased from charity shops.

So what have I popped in the boxes, basically, if you subscribe and choose the targeted genres you will receive a swag bag from me similar to those I give away with purchases. However, I know not everyone always has the spare cash to take advantages of these orders  at that minute so what I am willing to do is if you subscribe at any point, either in the next couple of days, or during December, and would like to receive a belated swag pack for your next box if you contact Read and Relax I will make sure that I send extra bags to make sure everyone gets one.

So if you are interested in this great subscription service head over to Read and Relax or follow them on Instagram  

And just remember if you don’t want this subscription for yourself then maybe it could be the perfect gift for the book lover in your family. I am so excited to be working alongside this company and hope to get the opportunity to do so again at a later date.