Book review: Inferno by Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book – Robert Langdon has lost is memory, he has to solve a number of puzzles whilst being chased by people who are trying to kill him… except no one is quite what they seem to be.

It was high action all the way and there was quite a lot of interesting discussion about the population explosion and the limited amount of resources the Earth has. I think, if you’re familiar with Florence, Venica and Istanbul, you’d get a lot out of this book (I’ve only been to two of those places).

All in all, a good fun read. High octane, lots of descriptions of architecture, lots of puzzle solving.

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Book Review: The Importance of Book Cover Design by J. D. Smith

The Importance of Book Cover Design and FormattingThe Importance of Book Cover Design and Formatting by J.D. Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book because I wanted to know what to look for in a book cover – what was good practice, what info did a cover designer need. Also, since I was thinking of putting together some covers for short stories myself.
It is interesting and informative and gives me an idea of what goes into the design of a cover. With book covers the actual making of the cover (the messing around with image manipulation software) is the easy bit. The difficult bit is getting the design part right. This book covers things like font pairing, font placement, contrast etc.
If you’re working with a designer, it also gives you a good handle on what your cover designer is talking about.

It won’t tell you HOW to do it, but will tell you what needs doing. I now have fewer unknown unknowns about book cover design.
A useful book all round.

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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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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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Book review: How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis

How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound GoodHow to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good by Bryan Cohen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I should point out that this is a book about writing blurbs to go on the back of the book, not the synopsis that you send to a publisher/ agent.

I’d heard of Bryan Cohen and his ninja copywriting skills, so I thought I’d buy his book and see what I could learn. This book is clearly and concisely written (as you’d expect) and gives you a nice step by step guide to the art and craft of writing a book blurb.
I’ve tried to put these techniques into practice. It’s hard to do, but having some guidance helps, especially when you get to the ‘Okay, I’ve done a decent draft, now how do I make it better’ stage.

I’d recommend this book to self publishers who have to write their own back cover copy.

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Book Review: Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

Just for the HolidaysJust for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of Sue Moorcroft’s books in general, but I think this one is my favourite.
Leah agrees to help her sister and estranged husband out by tagging along on their family holiday and being the ‘Cool Auntie’ to their two teenagers. Poor Leah. I felt so sorry for her as things started off bad and got worse… and worse.
Ronan is recovering from a shoulder/collarbone injury after a helicopter crash and spending some quality time with his son Curtis.

I loved that Leah was happy with the single life and that she was a complete petrol head. I also liked the way the teenagers kept getting in the way of … well, everything.
You really feel for both the main characters.

I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer as always – I know Sue Moorcroft through the Romantic Novelists Association. I am also a fan of her books.

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Book Review: Together by Julie Cohen

TogetherTogether by Julie Cohen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robbie and Emily have been together for a long time. They clearly love each other very much. But what is the secret they are keeping? What was so bad that they’ve lost contact with friends and family over it?

I’m not totally sure how to review this. As a writer, I loved it. The book is written backwards – given the story, it was probably the only way you could tell the story. At a technical level, it’s fascinating. You start with the day Robbie dies and go back in steps, each section revealing a part of the story, but raising more questions than were there before. There is a twist at the end that makes everything fall into place. The writing is beautiful (as always).

As a reader, I found it difficult to engage with the characters. Both Robbie and Emily are nice enough, but it took me a long time to get into it. I found I didn’t care as much about the why of their relationship as I’d expected to. In general, the start of the story (end of the book) was more interesting than the end (start of the book). For me, Julie Cohen’s books tend to be the sort where I burn the supper because I can’t bear to put them down and try to read and cook at the same time, so I’m a bit puzzled by this. Perhaps it’s the fact that you know where they end up.

In general, this book is unusual (both in structure and in subject matter) and a very thought provoking read. I’m still thinking about it.

My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me a review copy. I know Julie, but I was a fan of her books well before I met her.

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Book review: The Escape by C L Taylor

The EscapeThe Escape by C.L. Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Someone is threatening Jo’s daughter and Jo will do anything she can to protect her. Honestly, this story is the stuff of every parent’s worst nightmare – the idea of someone taking away your child.
Jo does some extreme things, but you understand precisely why she does them.

There are enough twists and turns and subplots to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time. It’s totally gripping. I raced through this book in a day… and then I went to check on my kids.

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