Do romance heroines have to be ‘nice’?

Continuing on my tour of blogs – today I’ve over at Short Book and Scribes, talking about the ‘unlikable’ heroine. I don’t find Olivia in Girl In Trouble particularly unlikable, but she’s not your kooky, clutzy, oh-so-nice girl either. She’s outspoken, laddish and confident. I don’t think that precludes her from being liked … or means she can’t have a happy ending. Do you?

Go check out the post here: http://shortbookandscribes.uk/guest-posts/guestpost-rhoda-baxter-talks-about-writing-flawed-heroines-rhodabaxter/

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Diversity in genre fiction. Why I would like to see more.

As part of the promo for Girl In Trouble (which came out yesterday – you can still grab it for 99p if you act fast), I was given the chance to do a guest post on Rachel’s Random Reads. Rachel asked me why representation in fiction mattered to me. You can read my very personal reasons for wanting to see more non-white characters in genre fiction here:

https://rachelsrandomreads.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/guest-post-representation-matters-by.html

And here’s a picture of Girl In Trouble, in case you’re not seeing enough of this week 😉

Girl in Trouble cover 3 w quote

Book review: Into The Woods by John Yorke

Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell ThemInto The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are lots of books about the ‘how’ of story. This book is about the ‘why’ of story.

Humans learn through stories. You will always remember a story more easily than a fact, which is why the earliest lessons we learn are through fables and cautionary tales. John Yorke looks at the way stories are structured and draws parallels between the structure of popular/successful stories and the human learning process.

It’s reasonably academic in tone and it won’t teach you how to write – but if you’re already some way along in the writing journey, then it’s definitely worth reading.

This is a fascinating book that makes you think about why stories have a structure and why it’s important. Highly recommended for writers.

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Out of Practice by Penny Parkes

Out of PracticeOut of Practice by Penny Parkes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely story! The book is ostensibly about GP Dr Holly Graham, who is new to the village of Larkford and loving it there. But there’s a whole cast of characters who come in and out of the story, all of whom are lovable. My favourite is ice-maiden Dr Julia Channing. What a fabulous character.

It’s a heartwarming small town romance. It touches lightly on social issues so that they are highlighted without the story getting mired in it. The characters are all realistic and compelling. I really enjoyed it.

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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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Book review: Who’s That Girl by Mhairi McFarlane

Who’s That Girl?Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edie has been in love with Jack for a long time. When things go wrong on Jack’s wedding night, Edie ends up being persona non grata at her office and her only choice is to move back in with her dad and sister and to take an assignment writing the official biography of spoilt celebrity Elliot Owen.

I liked the fact that Elliot and Edie are both back at home, ironing out the tangles in their lives. All the characters are well rounded (I wouldn’t expect anything less – I’ve been a fan of Mhairi McFarlane for a while now), even Edie’s grumpy sister and somewhat crazy neighbour.

There’s a cyber bullying sub plot, which was really interesting too. When Edie sorted that one out at the end, I nearly cheered out loud.

This is a good fun read. Elliot really is a sweetie.

(….and now I have the song ‘Who’s That Girl’ stuck in my head!)

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Book Review: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

The HoneymoonThe Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jemma has always dreamed of the perfect honeymoon with her husband, but things don’t go according to plan… and then one day he disappears. There’s nowhere to hide on the island (well, there must be, but let’s go with it) and no one knows what happened to him. Theories abound and everyone on the island is a suspect. The most likely suspect appears to be Jemma herself.

Part of the story is written in the present tense and Jemma realises her husband is missing and the search for him progresses. The other part is a series of flashbacks which tell us how she met her husband and how they ended up being on honeymoon on this most luxurious of islands.

Jemma is almost an unreliable narrator (almost, in that she’d got a bit high and forgotten what happened on the night of her husband’s disappearance). There are so many clues and red herrings that my theories as to what happened changed from chapter to chapter. There are a couple of twists on the way, but the final twist is pretty spectacular.

The writing is tight and feeling on claustrophobia that pervades the island is palpable. Jemma is an intriguing character. Jamie, Dan and their relationship is puzzling (partly because we mainly see them through Jemma’s eyes and everything is coloured by her opinions of them). We do eventually get a view into their thoughts and mostly, it was a surprise to see what they thought.

The story was so gripping that I was trying to work out the puzzle in between reading sessions (real life is so annoying when it’s getting in the way of a good book!). If you like tense psychological thrillers, you’ll love this book. I did.

I received a free copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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