Flash Reviews

Twitter For Writers by Rayne Hall

Twitter for Writers is a great book, particularly for indie authors, about how to engage with fans and peers and market yourself on Twitter. I liked that Hall has tips in every chapter for both newbs and more advanced twitter users. Although it’s a quick read, this book is packed with useful advice.

Readers who are looking for tips on how to market their novels without ‘wasting’ too much time having to put forth actual effort might want to steer clear, however. Hall’s advice-from sorting your feed into lists to cultivating followers who are actually interested in buying what you’re selling-will take both time and effort, especially upfront, but Halls’ results can’t be argued with.

Overall, I’m quite pleased I bought this book and have found most of its advice useful and easy to put into practice, and am looking forward to reading more in the Writer’s Craft series.

N or M? by Agatha Christie

N or M? isn’t one of Agatha Christie’s greatest works, but it’s an entertaining, cozy read that stands up to revisits.
Originally published in 1941, when Europe was at war, N or M? follows Tommy and Tuppence, who debuted in a first-world-war romp, in a new adventure. Now a settled, middle-aged couple, Tommy and Tuppence are desperate to find a way they can be useful to their country in the war their children are fighting in, and they accept an assignment to hunt for a suspected spy in a seaside boardinghouse where everyone seems to have sinister secrets.

Although the mystery itself was entertaining, I honestly enjoyed this novel more when the narrative focused on Tommy and Tuppence’s struggles to be taken seriously and prove that they weren’t too old for some more feats of derring-do. The other guests at the house were all appropriately menacing and mysterious as necessary, with red herrings on every other page, and most of the threads tied up pretty nicely at the end (though that thing about which Tommy and Tuppence are in unspoken agreement about at the end made me wish Dame Agatha had lived much longer, so we could have had more adventures).

Overall, while N or M? doesn’t break the mold, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours.

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Review: The Red Lily Crown

Title: The Red Lily Crown
Author: Elizabeth Loupas
Format: Paperback
Notes: I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, but was not otherwise compensated for my review.

The Plot: Chiara Nerini, the poor, orphaned daughter of a bookseller and alchemist, decides to sell her father’s equipment to Francesco de Medici, the son of the Grand Duke, an alchemist in his own right. Instead, she is kidnapped by Francesco and his assistant (an enigmatic Englishman named Ruanno) and brought into the Medici household in order to assist Francesco in his attempt to create a philosopher’s stone. Over the next several years, Chiara is drawn into the plots and conspiracies of the Medici court and forms a connection with Ruanno.

The Score: 4/5

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Review: The Terrorist’s Daughters

Title: The Terrorist’s Daughters
Author: Brian Arthur Levene
Format: Paperback
Notes: I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

When the PR person from Gully Gods publishing asked me if I would like a copy of The Terrorist’s Daughters in exchange for an honest review, my thought process went: Hey, that’s a nice cover! It looks like something from an Isabel Allende novel. Maybe this will be a thought-provoking story!

In retrospect, I really should have checked the book out before I said yes.

Far from being a thought-provoking story about gender politics in the Middle East, The Terrorist’s Daughters by Brian Arthur Levene is a racist, Islamaphobic, badly-written horror show of a story which took me three goes to actually finish.

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Review: The Martian

Book Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Format: Hardcover

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is not so much a science fiction novel about an astronaut trapped on Mars as it is a roller coaster of awesome that hauls you from plot twist of happiness to plot twist of despair while you hang on by your fingernails, alternating between holding your breath in shock and doubling over laughing.

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Review: The Rebels of Cordovia

Title: The Rebels of Cordovia
Author: Linda Weaver Clarke
Format: E-book

Well, this was a refreshing read after Royal Rebel. The Rebels of Cordovia, by Linda Weaver Clarke, isn’t brilliantly written; there’s a *lot* of telling rather than showing, some noticeable editing flubs (often a symptom of self-published novels), and several plot holes, but it is quite possibly one of the sweetest, gentlest YA novels I’ve read in the last year or two.

A Ruritanian adventure-romance (in the various senses of the word), the plot concerns a young rebel rebel, Robin Marie, who leads a group of freedom fighters opposing an evil ruler who murdered the real king and hounded the crown prince out of the country twenty years previously. Robin, a young lady who’s been trained by her father in the arts of fighting and disguising herself, ends up joining forces with Daniel, the dashing leader of another rebel group, and together they plot to take down the evil king through a cunning plan.

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Reivew: Royal Rebel

Title: Royal Rebel
Author: Dana Taylor
Format: E-book

I am an enormous fan of Robin Hood–both the original legends/poetry and modern retellings. I had previously read a genderbent Robin Hood novel–Ronin: Lsdy of Legend by R.M. ArceJaeger, which I really enjoyed, and I was hoping to find another adventurous and updated take when I bought Royal Rebel. I was sadly disappointed.

The following is the blurb, on the strength of which I bought this ebook:

Courageous, captivating, cunning—the Royal Rebel leads her band of freedom fighters against the tyranny of Prince John. Inspired by the classic Errol Flynn film “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “Royal Rebel” twists a beloved legend with humor, whimsical imagination, and romance. Winner of the “Great Expectations” and “Gotcha” contests of the Romance Writers of America.

That paragraph is more interesting, coherent, and better edited than this novel. Instead of a ‘captiving’ or ‘cunning’ heroine, the eponymous Robin is a spoiled, hot-tempered woman-child who never stops to consider the consequences of her actions. It is pounded into our heads time and time again that it is remarkable for her to have assembled her band of youth into a fighting force, and indeed it does seem nigh on miraculous; not, however, because she is a woman, as the book takes pains to state every two paragraphs, but because she is such a reckless idiot that it’s a wonder her followers didn’t mutiny after one of her many catastrophic decisions.

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Review: An Irish Country Doctor

Title: An Irish Country Doctor
Author: Patrick Taylor
Format: Paperback

An Irish Country Doctor, published in 2007, is the first in a series of novels by Patrick Taylor. The story takes place in rural 1960s Ireland: Barry Laverty, a recently minted medical doctor, travels to the small village of Ballybucklebo to work as assistant to Dr. Fingal Flaherty O’Reilly, a rather eccentric, cantankerous doctor with years of experience who has a badly-hidden heart of gold. The light, rather fluffy story revolves around Laverty’s getting settled into village life and he and O’Reilly’s meddling in village affairs to bring about a happy ending for several villagers.

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