Book Review: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary ImpactThe Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We can all recount moments that changed our lives. This book is about those moments – what they have in common, how to recognise a moment and, most importantly, how to create one. There are a range of examples of how ‘moments’ can be used to change things – from teaching, to improving sanitation in the developing world, to turning around failing schools.

The writing style is conversational and accessible, but there seems to be sound research behind everything. Because of the storytelling aspects of the book, I found it quite a moving read in places (especially the bit about the guy who wrote his mother a letter).

I heartily recommend this book, especially to anyone who feels like their life is stuck in a rut. It certainly made me think about how I could do things better (or at least differently), so I guess reading it was a moment in itself.

I received a free copy of this from Netgalley/ the publishers in return for an honest review. Thank you!

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Book review: Famous by Jenny Holiday

FamousFamous by Jenny Holiday

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, at the height of his infamy, Evan Winslow meets a girl called Emmy. His muse. (except he’s just quit painting).
Seven years later, Emmy has become Emmerson Quinn – mega star. Evan is hiding out, teaching in a small university. When Emmy turns up needing a place to hide, he understands.
The thing I loved about this book is that the characters are so believable. Great dialogue (not snappy for the sake of the one-liner, but genuinely natural). The characters change as the book progresses. Evan is over protective, but learns not to be over the top about it. Emmy is kooky (and annoyingly super competent at every-bloody-thing), but learns that she doesn’t have to please everyone.
Mrs Johanssen, Evan’s neighbour is just totally awesome.

I really enjoyed this book. I look forward to the sequel.

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Book review: Altitude by Niel Bushnell

AltitudeAltitude by Niel Bushnell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this up because I met Niel Bushnell at an event and was curious. (Generally speaking, if I get on with people in real life, I tend to like their writing too). It’s billed as paranormal YA, but it’s not what you’d expect. It’s a story about a bully who learns to fly and the disruption that causes to her relationships.
Tam isn’t a nice person. In fact, she’s a bully. Abigail is her on/off victim. The two are bound together by the shared secret – the fact that Tam can fly.
There are three point of view characters in the story, each with their own problems. They’re not particularly nice girls (apart from Abi, maybe), but they’re all believable. I really enjoyed the story. It was refreshingly different.

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How to: Run an Instafreebie giveaway

Instafreebie giveaway how to

A few months ago, I set up an Instafreebie giveaway to send out samples of books which were shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNA) awards. I wrote it up for Romance Matters magazine as a case study. In order to keep this blog post short, I’ve picked out the ‘how to’ part of it. If you want to see the full article, including the download figures etc, just download the document at the end (it’s free).

When I heard about being shortlisted of a RoNA award, I was over the moon. My first thought was to squee a lot and eat cheesecake (naturally), but after I’d calmed down, I started thinking about how we (my fellow nominees and I) could use this to try and get our books in front of people. The RNA press officers sent press releases out to traditional media – some people got a bit of press attention from that. As I have very few press contacts, I wasn’t able to get very far with that. So I poked around on the internet (which is my default pastime anyway) and stumbled across a service that Indie authors have been using for a while – Instafreebie.

 

Insta-what now?

This is my interpretation of Instafreebie: They are a site with a huge mailing list of readers who are looking for free books and previews of books to download. You can:

  • use it to give away books or samples of books, in the hope that it the readers are so smitten by the sample that they’ll go on and buy the full book.
  • Use it get ARCs into the hands of reviewers (You can set your giveaway to ‘private’ and send links to selected people. You can also set it so that they need a password to get the book).   
  • Use it to build a mailing list. I’m told that a lot of the Instafreebie subscribers are very engaged and tend to leave reviews.

The main difference between Instafreebie and Netgalley is that Instafreebie is cheaper and they have a huge email list already (a bit like Bookbub in that respect).

 

What we did with the RoNA shortlist

Twelve authors (well, eleven, really, but one of us had two books on the shortlist under two different pen names) put up samples of their RoNA nominated books. The samples were of various lengths. Most people gave away the first chapter, but some samples were a bit longer (around 3 chapters). We each put a link to the full book at the end of the sample. Where books weren’t out in the US yet, the author put in a notice saying ‘join my mailing list to find out when this book comes out in the US’.

It’s worth noting that if a book is on KDP Select, you are still allowed to use 10% of the book for promotional purposes.

Each author signed up for Instafreebie (you can get a basic account for free), uploaded their book and set up a public giveaway.

They sent me (the giveaway coordinator) the links for each of their individual giveaway pages and a jpeg of their book cover. I pulled them all together into a ‘giveaway’ page and made a graphic for it. 

rona-if-giveaway-main
The graphic included the name of the giveaway, the dates and the URL

We used ‘can you guess which of these books are winners?’ as a hook. It turned out that three of them were!

I then contacted Instafreebie (support@instafreebie.com) and asked if they would help us promote this giveaway. All authors promoted this one page on our social media and on our mailing lists.

Since Instafreebie will help promote a giveaway that has more than 10 participants, they sent me instructions and we agreed on a date.

Do you want to set up your own Instafreebie giveaway? Here are some instructions:

What you need:

  • Your book sample in EPUB format. [Update: You can now also use Mobi format!]
  • A jpeg of your book cover.

Instructions on You Tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHAJXnV4sWs

Sign up for the free version of Instafreebie and set up the giveaway. Set it to ‘public’, so that it can be shared.

Once you’ve put the giveaway up on Instafreebie, send the giveaway coordinator the URL for your giveaway, a jpeg of your book cover and one or two lines about your book (the descriptions don’t show up very well on Instafreebie).

Setting up a Giveaway as a coordinator

Just pull together all the books and short descriptions onto one page on your website/blog. Link each book cover to the relevant giveaway URL (people tend to click pictures more than words). Send the URL for this new page with all the books on to all the participating authors.

More detailed instructions on You Tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZLPyqE4kiQ

If you need help try support@instafreebie.com

(Or you can email me and I’ll do my best to help!)

Converting a Word doc into an EPUB doc: My preferred way is to open the Word doc in Google docs, then click ‘download as’ and choose EPUB. That worked fine for me.

There are other (better) options like using Calibre or Draft2Digital. I haven’t tried these methods.

You can put your book sample/short story/reader magnet up and run a promo campaign for free. However, if you want to collect the email addresses of people who download your book, you have to pay ($20 a month).

If you are building your mailing list, then Instafreebie is great. You can set the promotion so that people have to give you their email address before they download your book. You can link your Instafreebie account to Mailchimp or Mailerlite so that all those email addresses go to your mailing list (or you can just download them at the end of the promo period). This is a paid for feature. They have a free one-month trial, if you wanted to try this.

Want to the see the download numbers and graphs? Download it here: Instafreebie How To

Book Review: Badredhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge by Rachel Thompson

BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a monthBadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month by Rachel Thompson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me some time to read this book as I tried implementing some of the suggestions as I went along (haven’t done them all yet!). It was extremely informative and made me think about little details, especially regarding social media, which I hadn’t even considered before.
Very useful. It’s useful for beginners and intermediate level markers of books, I should think. It was certainly useful to me.

Thank you to Netgalley for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Cover Reveal: Girl In Trouble

I’ve got a new book coming out! For those of you who have read Girl Having A Ball, this is the next book in the series and follows Tom’s best friend Og.

Here’s the cover:

Girl in Trouble cover (no quote)

Isn’t it fabulous? I think the woman encapsulates Olivia’s attitude perfectly.

Blurb:

What do you do when the things that define you disappear?

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart. 

Girl In Trouble is coming out in all ebook formats on the 9th of October. Stay tuned for more updates (or better still, sign up for my newsletter – you get a free short story to keep you busy while you wait).

Book review: The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli

The ArrangementThe Arrangement by Sonya Lalli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up because, as you know, stories about modern Asian women/ second generation expats is totally my catnip. Also, I really like the cover.

Raina is nearly 30 and unmarried. Her grandmother (Nani) is trying desperately to find her a husband. But Raina doesn’t want to meet a nice Indian boy because she’s still in love with her ex… who is still stringing her along. There’s a lot going on in Raina’s life – apart from things with her ex, she’s not sure she loves her job anymore, her best friend Shay is having an epic Indian wedding and Raina herself is questioning why she made the choices she made.

Raina makes a seemingly small choice to lie to her Nani about something and this escalates, rippling out and affecting more and more people until she can’t come clean without hurting a lot of them.

There’s a lot of lovely description about the wider ‘family’ created by the other members of the diaspora. Turns out adopted Aunties in Canada feel just as much right to interfere are Aunties anywhere else. The wedding brings out the most extreme opinions in people anyway.

I loved Nani’s character. She is sweet and acerbic and complex (I especially like the flashbacks to Raina’s childhood where you get a glimpse of who Raina’s mother is like she is).

This is an interesting novel about how we live up to the expectations of other people and whether or not that’s a bad thing. It’s warm, funny in places, and entertaining. If you like Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, then you’ll like this.

I received a copy of this via Netgalley in return for a fair review. Thank you Orion and Netgalley.

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Book review: Claiming his Pregnant Princess by Annie O’Neil

Claiming His Pregnant Princess: Italian RoyalsClaiming His Pregnant Princess: Italian Royals by Annie O’Neil

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t often read Mills and Boon books, because I’m not a fan of alpha males. I got a copy of this book in my RNAConf17 goody bag and Annie O’Neil is such a fun person, that I thought I’d have a go.

Bea is hiding from the paparazzi after her high profile society wedding was cancelled at the last minute in a blaze of scandal (Tempted by The Bridesmaid is the prequel to this book). She’s hiding out working as a medic in an emergency clinic. Oh, and she’s pregnant, but not showing yet.
Jamie is the guy that was supposed to be the love of Bea’s life, until she left him to go marry a prince. He’s been avoiding the papers, so he doesn’t know that the wedding didn’t happen. It turns out, he’s also Bea’s boss.

Jamie was all strong and manly, but really sweet with it. Bea came across as someone dealing with a range of conflicting emotions and managing to keep a brave face on it. They’re both realistic and the kind of people you’d root for. Well, I rooted for them, anyway. I really enjoyed this story. I’d read more by Annie O’Neil.

As mentioned at the start, I got a free copy of this book from the publisher (thank you!) and I met Annie O’Neil in real life at the Romantic Novelists Association Conference.

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Inheritance Books: Sonya Lalli

This week’s Inheritance Books are from Sonya Lalli, whose debut novel is out this week! Welcome to the Inheritance Books sofa Sonya. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself. I’ll go make us some tea.

Sonya LalliI’m a 28 year-old Canadian writer, journalist and former lawyer. I’ve been writing all my life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to write a novel. I put my legal career on hold and moved to London to do a masters in creative writing, during which I wrote The Arrangement. While I’ll be moving back to Canada soon, right now I am currently writing my second novel and working as a legal journalist.

 

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

I inherited my Mom’s copies of Jean M Auel’s Earth’s Children Series when I was about 12 years old.

Chris Drumm:Flickr
Photo by Chris Drumm; Flickr

I wasn’t necessary interested in anthropology, nor did I read a lot of historical fiction or sagas – but it was love at first sight. From the moment Mom gifted me her battered copies of the series I was completely captivated by Ayla’s story – a strong woman on a journey of self-discovery in pre-historic Europe.

The first one was The Clan of the Cave Bear where we see Ayla as a young girl – and ends with The Land of Painted Caves, after Ayla is farther along on her journey (geographically and spiritually) and has a partner and daughter. That last one only came out in 2011. It had been thirty years since The Clan of the Cave Bear hit shelves, and as you can imagine Mom was anxiously awaiting the final installment in the series. For the first time, we got to wait for one of Auel’s brilliant books together!

 

Which book would you leave to future generations? Why?

I would leave future generations Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake. It is hands down my favourite book, and while reading it as a young teenager, for the first time I truly connected with the main character of a novel.

DSC_0153.JPG
Sonya’s books are all in Canada, so this is actually my copy

Before The Namesake, I’m not sure I’d ever read or heard a story about a kid of Indian heritage growing up in North America. (I’m sure there were some before that – I hope there were – but at that point I hadn’t discovered any.) The novel tells Gogol’s story, a young boy of Bengali Hindu heritage living in Boston. As he grows up and struggles with his identity, everything about him just felt so familiar to me. The push and pull of cultures. Falling in love with someone who was raised so different than you. The way your living room – and the world beyond your front door – can both feel so foreign.

While there still aren’t nearly enough books featuring diverse lead characters, I hope there will be plenty for future generations to choose from. I’d recommend they start with The Namesake.

Readers of this blog will know that this is something I bang on about a lot. Yes, there should definitely more books featuring diverse lead characters. I can also recommend Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter of Maladies for some incredible short stories. 

Thank you for sharing your special books with us, Sonya. All the best with your own books.

TheArrangement-BPB V2.jpegSonya’s debut novel The Arrangement is available to buy now. You can find out more about Sonya on her website. You can also catch her on Twitter and Instagram (@saskinthecity)