Category Archives: Book Reviews

Reviews of books. Fiction, nonfiction, writing resource books, and more.

Book Review: How to Make a Living with Your Writing – Joanna Penn

How to Make a Living with Your WritingBook Title: How to Make a Living with Your Writing
Author: Joanna Penn
Format: eBook
Series: Books for Writers
Volume: 2
Length: 126 Pages
Publication Date: June 22, 2015
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
Summary: Joanna Penn gives writers something to work towards in this great book about making a living as a writer. This book includes information on self-publishing, how to write books people actually will want to read and buy, different ways to make income from your writing, and shares insights from her own journey from cubicle farm to full-time writer.

Pros: This is a great book, chalk full of good information for writers. I really love her take on the writing life and the writing community. She encourages sharing the work of fellow writers and creating good karma for yourself and others in the writing community. I love that Ms. Penn is passionate about her chosen career and shares what she knows with us in so many ways.

Cons: I felt it was a bit salesy with links on almost every page to something Ms. Penn had wrote and had for sale. However, she did pepper in links to thinks for sale that were not hers. So there is the feeling that she is just offering what she think will help her fellow writers.

Reader Warnings: None

Conclusion: I recommend this book for writers looking to make money from their writing. It is geared more toward the beginner rather than someone who has already got their start in writing for a living, but sometimes that beginner information is useful to seasoned writers too.

 

Book Review: Crush It With Kindle – John Tighe

Crush it With Kindle

Book Title: Crush it With Kindle
Author: John Tighe
Format: eBook
Series: N/A
Volume: N/A
Length: 253 Pages
Publication Date: December 18, 2012
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Summary: John Tighe has put together a great little book for writers seeking to be successful selling their books in eBook format for Kindle. It includes monetizing Kindle books, choosing between niche and genre, how to write your book quickly, how to conduct research, writing your book, editing, and much more.

Pros: It’s very inclusive of the information needed to be successful on Amazon with Kindle eBooks. I especially enjoyed the parts about marketing your book and the book launch itself. Tighe gives tips on advertising, keyword research and usage, attention grabbing titles, why it’s important to use sub-titles, Amazon categories, and much more. It’s all useful information.

Cons: Some parts of the book were discouraging for me. Although they may have been honest, I felt there could be other ways to do what was being described. For example, Tighe recommends getting reviews for your book before you do the official launch. This would include giving away a free review copy of the book to someone in return for a review. I appreciate the fact that Tighe didn’t recommend making up reviews! However, this seems a daunting task as do other tasks in the book. Like I said, however, it may be the truth of it in which case it needs to be said.

Reader Warnings: None

Conclusion: This is a great book for anyone thinking about publishing eBooks on Amazon for Kindle. You can borrow it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Book Review Video for Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Hey Everyone!

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re spending today with a nice cup of coffee or tea and a GOOD BOOK! If you haven’t read Gone Girl yet, here’s a new video I just made to review the book for you. As usual, my book review includes a summary, pros, cons, reader warnings, and book stats. I also posted a full article Book Review a little while ago you can check out for additional information.

If you read Gone Girl, let me know what you thought in the comments below or comment on the Video.

Happy Reading!
~ Eileen 🙂

YouTube Book Review Video for Gone Girl

Full Article Book Review for Gone Girl

How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell

How To Make A Living As A Writer - James Scott Bell

Book Title: How to Make a Living As A Writer
Author: James Scott Bell
Format: Paperback
Price as of this post: $3.99 Kindle or $11.11 Paperback
Series: N/A
Volume: N/A
Length: 256 Pages
Publication Date: October 2014
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.00

YouTube Video Review

Summary: This is a great book with tons of resources on how to make a reasonable living as a writer. It does not promise a get rich quick scheme or other unreasonable methods such as writing a book a week.

Pros: This book is very thorough in the topics it covers for writers. James Scott Bell talks about traditional versus self-publishing as well as using a hybrid of the two. The entire book is stuffed full of great websites and resources for writers. I really love the LOCK system. I can’t tell you what it is without giving away Mr. Bell’s secrets, but trust me, you’ll love it! He gives sample writing and business plan information as well as even talking about making money from short stories and novellas.

Cons: There are a couple of places where Mr. Bell gets what I would call a little ‘preachy’. He goes on for a bit about exercising and eating well as well as balancing time with your family and writing. I get it, but what if you can’t exercise, already eat well, or don’t have a family? Thanks for rubbing it in! I agree with what he says, but I just think it was out of place for this book. There were a handful of typos, but nothing that is a show stopper. He also is pretty negative about social media, saying we create fake lives by posting pictures of us only happy on Facebook or other social media outlets. I found that to be pretty pessimistic, but maybe that’s just me.

One big con for me was that a lot of the suggestions for making your work successful included suggestions for tools that are quite pricey. For example, Mr. Bell suggests using a professional editor, cover artist, graphic designer, and layout specialist to make sure your book looks and feels the best it can be. I agree that would be great to do, but those experts cost several hundred dollars apiece. So the average writer just starting out and working a day job will not be able to afford those things. Practical tips on how to self-edit are included, but ideas on making the best cover you can yourself or additional resources for doing those things yourself would have been appreciated.

Reader Warnings: No vulgar language or content not safe for younger readers.

Conclusion: I really liked this book and would recommend it to my writer friends. I’m recommending it to you, my readers, so that is saying something! I really love the ideas, and advice James Scott Bell gives in this book and the resources are priceless. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Book Review: Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

 

Book Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Format: Kindle

Price as of this post: $2.99 on Amazon

Length: 434 pages

Publication Date: June 5, 2012

Rating: 3.50 out of 5.00

Summary:

Amy Dunne disappears on the day of her 5 year wedding anniversary. Her husband, Nick, comes home to discover signs of a struggle and his wife gone. The book is basically the story of Nick fighting the murder charges for his wife’s disappearance.

Pros:

This was a very interesting book full of wit and surprises. It was definitely a page turner. There is some great phrases in this book throughout. One of my favorites is when people are waiting around in the police station for some news and Flynn writes:

‘It was a bizarre gathering — the feel of it: not quite reunion, not quite hospital waiting room, celebratory yet anxious, like some parlor game where no one had all the rules.’

I loved that phrase! I could really relate to that feeling of not knowing all of what is expected of you, but excited to get started.

Flynn’s writing is full of great phrases and word usage as well as excellent characterization. There is a great cast of characters in this book. You really empathize with Nick and get angry with other characters who make things difficult for him. There is definitely a good connection built with each of the main characters.

Cons:

While I enjoyed Flynn’s turn of phrase, I was not particularly fond of her use of parenthesis throughout the story. At first I thought it was only used when a particular character was speaking, like it was their personality to have under the breath comments, or thoughts to self. But the use of parenthesis throughout the book indicated it was not a characterization technique, but a writing technique. I found it disruptive to my reading flow.

Nick has a twin sister in the story named Margo. She is referred to as ‘Go’ in the book. While this may be a cute nickname in person, I found it awkward in print. I kept thinking there was a typo in the middle of a sentence and I would get tripped up by the capitalized word ‘Go’ in strange places. And then I would realize it was referring to Nick’s sister, Go. Perhaps this is just my own oddness, but I found it bulky.

The biggest con of this book, for me, was the ending. Without giving anything away, I have to say that I was extremely disappointed with the ending. I didn’t feel like it really fit the characters well and it felt like Flynn was just ready to end the book. The entire book was full of well planned plot twists and surprising turns of events. But the ending was flat for me. It was like someone took a beautiful china teapot and put duct tape on it to hold in the tea’s heat. It was weird, awkward, and I didn’t care for it at all.

Reader Cautions:

This book does contain sexual content and extreme foul language (use of the c word is included). There are also adult themes such as murder, theft, and fraud. I would not recommend this book for even mature readers under the age of 15.

In Conclusion:

Do I want my money back? No. I’m glad I read the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the book. And while I understand that the ending was meant to leave the reader with a chill and questions of what the future holds for the characters, I just did not connect to the ending at all. I am not opposed to a non-traditional ending that leaves characters unhappy or dead or some other twist ending. However, I felt very strongly that the ending presented here was totally out of character for everyone involved. It was very strange and made me feel uncomfortable. I kept swiping on my Kindle thinking there was more to the ending that I had missed somehow. It was very discombobulated and disjointed and left me feeling very disenchanted with the whole story.

Read the book? Let me know what you think in the comments below! I would love to hear your opinions on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn!

Happy Reading!

~ Eileen

You can also purchase Gone Girl on Amazon in these formats:

Hardcover ($14.09 Prime Price as of 12.14.14)

Paperback ($9.00 Prime Price as of 12.14.14)

Audio (Prices vary depending on your Amazon membership and whether you own the Kindle version or not. $25.95 to $12.99)

Mass Market Paperback ($8.34 Prime Price as of 12.14.14)

Audio CD ($34.00 as of 12.14.14)

iTunes ($4.99 as of 02.26.15)

Book Review: The Poets and Writers Guide to Literary Agents

The Poets and Writers Guide to Literary Agents

Book Title: Poets and Writers Guide to Literary Agents

Author: Cathie Beck, Amy Klein, John B. Thompson, Jofie Ferrari-Adler, Eryn Loeb

Format: Kindle

Price as of this post: $4.99 on Amazon

Length: 62 pages

Publication Date: February 15, 2011

Rating: 4.50 out of 5.00

Summary:

This book is a collection of articles from literary agents with tips and hints for the author who wants to land an agent. I found the insight and tips very helpful and plan to put a lot of the information to good use.

If you’re anything like me, you get bored reading ‘scholarly’ or ‘educational’ information. I need to know the details of how to find a good agent, where the agents are looking, and how best to approach an agent but it’s not as exciting as a piece of fiction. This book, with its collection of essays, articles, and interview snippets, allowed me to get the information I needed in bit sized pieces so I was not overwhelmed and did not lose my place.

If you are looking for information on obtaining an agent, this is a good read.

Here’s the official book description from Amazon.com:

Searching for an agent?

Poets & Writers is here to help. A collection of articles edited by the staff of Poets & Writers Magazine, this handy resource includes straightforward advice from professionals in the literary field and additional resources with insider tips.

This practical guide will give you everything you need to understand what agents do, what you can expect from them, and how to find the best agent for you and your work:

Where agents search for new talent
Tips on how to secure an agent
What agents look for in the first few pages of a submission
How to follow up with an agent after you’ve submitted your work
The agent’s role in today’s publishing industry
How to know when the time has come to dissolve a relationship with an agent

The Poets And Writers Guide To Literary Agents

If you read it or have read it in the past, let me know what you think of this book in the comments below.

Happy Writing & Reading!

~ Eileen 🙂

Book Review: The Angry Woman Suite

Book Title: The Angry Woman Suite

Author: Lee Fullbright

Format: Kindle

Series: N/A

Volume: N/A

Length: 366 Pages

Publication Date: February 22, 2012

Rating: 4.00 out of 5.00

Summary: The Angry Woman Suite is the story of intertwined lives. Elyse is a young girl when her mother marries Francis Grayson. Francis is angry at the world and is an abusive father to Elyse and her little sister ‘Bean’. To understand Francis’ anger, the book tells the tale of what made Francis into the man he has become and what happens when Elyse is old enough to do something about it.

Pros: This is a touching and elegant story of life-long love, family deceit, mental illness, abuse and just living life. I immediately connected with Elyse and was touched by her devotion to her little sister, her need to protect Bean from the life that was chosen for them. The book definitely elicits emotions of all kinds. Magdalene is a mystery throughout, but you want to like her, to love her as Aidan does. I found myself wanting to love Magdalene, but not knowing how because I didn’t understand her. Which is what the author intended, I do believe. 🙂 The characters really came to life for me and it was a long journey that twisted and turned and came to a peaceful close.

Cons: There were several spots in the book that I found unclear. Especially where the identities of Francis and Jamie were concerned and who was who and which part of the story. There are parts when it is an action scene and I was not really sure what had just happened. For example, without giving too much away, there is a scene where a character is harmed by another character. It’s very unclear what happened. Did the attacker have a knife? Did they attack with a tree branch and inflict that much damage? Was the attacked person nude? I just was left in a cloud, not really understanding what had happened. There are several scenes that, for me, were unclear or confusing as to what had transpired when I was done reading it.

Reader Warnings: I would recommend this book for mature audiences. There are topics of child abuse, violence, alcoholism and sex. There are no over-the-top scenes, but there are scenes and descriptions of child abuse which I found to be disturbing, but who wouldn’t?

Conclusion: Overall, this is a good book. I enjoyed reading it. It’s really just the last few chapters that seemed to get confusing and unclear as to what was going on. The attack scene that I mentioned before, the scene on the third floor of Grayson House, and others that are just very confusing all happen towards the end. But it’s a great story. I love how history is woven into the thread of the story and made to be a part of the tapestry of their lives. The characters pulled at my heartstrings and pushed me on to the last page so I could make sure they turned out alright.

Book Review: If Looks Could Kill by Eileen Dreyer

Book Title: If Looks Could Kill

 

Author: Eileen Dreyer

Format: Kindle

Length: 354 Pages

Publication Date: October 16, 2012

Rating: 4.50 out of 5.00

Summary: Chris Jackson is the real name of a famous writer who has chosen Pyrite as her new home. The townspeople love her, for the most part, and protect her identity from the outside world. Under a pen name, Chris writes horror stories about horrible murders. While working on her latest novel and welcoming the hunky new police chief, Al MacNamara, to town, Chris is haunted by a real killer who is copying her murder scenes perfectly. While Chris and Al try to discover who the killer is before they come too close for comfort, Chris tries to convince herself that the killer is not herself.

Pros: I liked this book and the underlying story about Chris Jackson. The characters were good and I think readers will relate to the hidden pains of Al and Chris especially. I liked the characters in the town of Pyrite and the descriptions of the town itself. I think I may have lived in Pyrite at one point in my life and not realized it! The supporting characters were very real. I loved Dinah and Trey and I, of course, loved to hate Sgt. Lawson and Reverend Sweetwater. I think my favorite character was Al MacNamara. After suffering a horrendous injury, Al decided to move to a smaller, quieter town, only to be put into the circus that is Chris Jackson’s life. Solid as a rock, Al is calm and cool and carries everyone through the story to the exciting end.

Cons: Chris’ different names are a little hard to keep track of. I can’t be a spoiler, but for me, it was just a tad too much. There were a couple typos in the book, but nothing that hugely detracts from the story. I think the biggest Con for me was that I felt there was no true resolution at the end of the book, and I’m a girl who loves a happy and complete ending. Another thing that is very small, but really sticks with me is that I don’t connect the book’s title with the events in the book.

Reader Warnings: This book does contain some sexual content, violence, child abuse, phobias and negative religious connotation.

In Conclusion: I enjoyed reading this book. If you like suspense and surprises, then this one’s for you. I recommend this one.

Happy Reading!

~ Eileen 🙂

 

Book Review: The Final Arrangement by Annie Adams

Book Title: The Final Arrangement

Author: Annie Adams

Format: Kindle

Series: The Flower Shop Mystery Series

Volume: 1

Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: January 30, 2013

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

Review

This is a great little book that I really enjoyed. The main character, Quincy, is plucky, funny and very lovable. Quincy is at odds with everyone, it seems, until things finally start to come together. Not knowing who she can trust when a fellow florist is murdered, she sets out to clear her name. Items found at the scene of the body’s discovery indicate that Quincy could be the one who killed the horrid man. With colorful characters, exciting happenings and a happy ending to boot, this is a good book for those who love mysteries and love.

Despite my enjoyment of the book overall, there were a few parts that I found confusing as I was reading the scene. I can’t tell you the scenes, or I’ll spoil the book, but towards the end, there is a scene that is pivotal to the story. There is a lot going on and it was sort of hard to follow. There is another conversation later in the book that made me confused as well. The scene and the conversation were both very important parts in discovering who the killer is.

The last scene in the book seemed a little forced as well. A bad-news character from earlier in the book pops up again and is subsequently squelched. All in one scene. I didn’t really understand the need to have that person pop up again, so I think I tried to read too much into it and ended up feeling disappointed that there wasn’t more to the situation than there was.

Overall, like I said, it’s a great book and I’m certainly not sorry I read it.