Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Verity Xuereb-Smith, Barbara Baker, and Ian Pemberton by Steven Hugh

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I was sent this free book by the author in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary: After many years of avoiding the press, the Gibraltarian actress Verity Xuereb-Smith finally agrees to give an interview to be published as a series of articles in a women’s magazine. As the conversation with the journalist progresses, she watches the years of her life go by and begins to evaluate her achievements. Soon she is caught between frustration and nostalgia, between her despondency with the present and her determination for the future.

Verity Xuereb-Smith
This review is long overdue and I have finally gotten a chance to narrow down some reviews to read this story and transfer my review from paper to blog. First reading Verity-Xuereb-Smith, I thought it opened well. The set up for the story was vivid and I got a clear picture of how the story was going. For me in my opinion I did feel that it went a tad bit slow in some parts but it wasn't anything that would hinder me from continuing reading the story.

The story opens up with Verity, who is a Gibraltarian actress, in the airport waiting for the journalist Bettina. Bettina is documenting the life of Verity. It starts with the beginning of Verity's life from childhood  to becoming an actress, and how her career is as of now. I got the nostalgia feels while reading this story. I don't want to give to much of the story away but it was a good read. 

There are three books but they are not part of a trilogy and can be read as stand as a stand alone. 
My rating for this book is 3.5 stars
Recommend? Yes

Ian Pemberton
 I was sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review
Goodreads Summary:
Looking for a better life in the sun, the British couple Ian and Madeleine Pemberton give up their jobs and head off to the south of Spain to make a new start. At first they are charmed by the pleasant climate and lifestyle, but soon the practical side of making a living in a different country presents them with some unexpected experiences and challenges. Not the least of which is "Venus". 


I did enjoy reading this story. Ian Pemberton is not happy with his job and is basically burnt out on it. When he decided that he needed some time to himself  he takes off and it turns out to be one of the best ideas he has had. He doesn't want to go back to work He has a dream of moving and opening a garden decor center in Spain.  

While reading, I wished that I could take off and not go back to work. I do like my job but those off days are the best. Anyhoo, thats another story. Of course this couple has no idea how to start a business and the whole situation of moving to another country. There are moments that are captivating in the story and Ian is at peace with the idea.

This was a light read and it did not take long to read. This book can also be read as a stand alone. 
Rating 3.5 Stars
Recomend? Yes

Barbara Baker
Goodreads Summary:   Barbara Baker is indebted and alone, trying to bring up a child on her modest salary as a nurse. Following a vicious attack, she is befriended by a colleague’s brother who offers her a comfortable home and the chance to recover from her recent problems. She accepts, a little reluctantly at first, and despite their differences a cosy family life begins to form around them. However, Barbara’s past is starting to catch up with her
 
This one was my favorite out of the three books. The storyline for the others were good but this one was the best one out of the bunch. The story is a woman who is from Trinidad who is a nurse and also a single mother to her son. There are some situations that come about and she feels that she can't escape from it. What she wants is normalcy.

I want to go into the climax of the story but for the sake of the review I won't spoil it for anyone who didn't read the story. But I will say it was good. This one is just like Ian Pemberton. It was a light read and it doesn't take long to read at all. 

Rating 4 Stars
Recommend? yes

I enjoyed reading all three books and I would recommend them all :)


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Guest Post and Interview with Louise Herman!

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I'm very happy to host a very talented author on Highway-Y.A.  Louise Herman is the author of five books that have received great reviews. For more information on her works you can look for the links at the end of the post. First we will have the interview and flow right to the guest post. The topic for the guest post is Valuable Feedback vs Troll Reviews. Enjoy!!

Interview Questions

1.) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure if you could call it an interesting writing quirk, but I have to listen to music when I write because it helps me concentrate.
It is quite common for me to go to my Bjork, Limp Bizkit, NIN or Machine Head collections if I need inspiration for a fight scene or to my Ellie Goulding, Evanescence and Eurythmics selections to help me create a magical or romantic passage.
If I do not have music on, I can get distracted very easily and it would take me longer to complete the task at hand.

2.) Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I love to incorporate my interests into my work, so I tend to be influenced by music and films but I also plan out the character names (with adequate meanings), character personalities, chapters, powers and sub plots.
I also use the internet to help me with my research but try not to have it on when I start to write a book because it can be very easy to become distracted.

3.) What inspired you to write your first book?
I am a big fan of Greek mythology and was watching Clash of the Titans (the original version) recently and loved the storyline regarding earth and the underworld.
I then started to think about the characters in the film and how interesting it would be to combine the underworld with other magical beings, such as paranormal beings and began to write The Orcus Games: Blood Moon,

4.) Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I absolutely love writing but find it challenging to come out of my writers block sometimes.
Working full time and writing is quite difficult. Especially being a teacher because I regularly take work home with me and my time becomes consumed with lesson planning, marking, meetings, etc, so I have to make a writing timetable and make a conscious effort to keep to it, meet deadlines and reply to emails and messages from fans, readers and bloggers because I hate not responding straight away and try to reply within 24 hours.

5.) Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I have always loved anything to do with the unknown and magic and used to watch a lot of fantasy films when I was a child.
I think these films inspired me to create my own magical characters and environments, which is why I decided to start writing short fantasy stories in high school but only did this for my own pleasure because at the time the only outlets to show my work was in competitions or writing to literary agents (the internet was a mere fantasy in science fiction novels at the time).
By the time the internet became established, I had other commitments, which took over my time, and it was only until recently that I decided to gain some confidence and self-publish my work.
I love this genre because I feel there are no limitations on how creative I can be and it’s great to take the reader to new magical worlds and connect with new characters that are super human and can do things that we can only dream of.

6.) What did you enjoy most about writing your books?
There are many things I enjoy about writing my books but I think the one thing that really keeps me
going is comments and emails from the readers asking about characters and when the next book is coming out.
I am a little self conscious of my work because I know I have entered a popular genre, but it is amazing when the people the their time to write to me about my work and I hope it continues.

7.) For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?
I would probably suggest that any reader who is new to my work should start with The Orcus Game: Blood Moon (which is free to read on Wattpad).
This is the first book in the prequel novella trilogy, The Orcus Games and sets the scene for the Split Blood series as the reader gets to understand the different circles, the rules of the Ancient Codex, the perils the parents of the Split Blood characters had to endure when they were thrust into the deadly underworld Orcus Games and where the bad blood between the circles rose from.

8.) What projects are you working on at the present?
I am currently working on the third book in the Split Blood series, which will be published on Amazon and Smashwords by April 2016.
It concentrates on Raven (Faith's Wiccan sister) and her fight to get her family back.
Raven's character also changes due to the trials and tribulations she encounters on her journey and we also meet new magical beings and say goodbye to some favourites.
With lots more magic, lust and revenge Split Blood 3 promises to continue the emotional rollercoaster ride further into the Split Blood world.
In the previous two books, Raven has been a minor character, who has always been there for her older sister, Faith.
Happy to find out her new magically heritage, Raven tried to show her reluctant sister the benefits of their new life as she grew in power but Faith was not interested in the magic classes and her history as Raven was.
Unfortunately, Faith felt suffocated from the endless rules and her curiosity led to her running away, leaving the Coven to deal with the consequences of Faith's illegal choice.
This emotional departure left a scar on Raven, who struggles to cope with life without her sister and things get much worse when her parents are taken to the Underworld for questioning about their part in their daughter's detrimental rule breaking.
Alone, distraught and unable to deal with some members of her Coven turning against her, Raven becomes obsessed with finding her family, by any means necessary - with disastrous results...

9.) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
I would just say never give up on your passion and always use feedback as a positive experience (as long as it is constructive), and learn from your mistakes and celebrate your successes.

10.) What are things you like to do outside of writing?
When I am experiencing writers block, I know I need to take 'time-out', so I would usually either go for a jog, listen to music (I love Bjork, Daft Punk and Evanescence) or watch a film (I am a big fan of 80s fantasy and horror movies).
I have a YouTube channel and have added all of my favourite songs to each playlist and have made four Google+ collections to display my interests and interact with those who have similar passions. 

Guest Post: Feedback vs Trolling Reviews 
My First Review

Once I had finished writing The Orcus Games: Blood Moon, I was dancing on the ceiling! When I pub-lished it via Amazon and Smashwords, I felt like I was floating in space, and I started patting myself on the back because it felt like such an achievement! I felt like I could do anything because I was a self-published author. However, that elated feeling soon started to disperse when I began wondering where the reviews were.

I opted to have a few free days on the Amazon Kindle Direct scheme and thought to myself, “The re-views are coming now… wait for it Lou,” but there was nothing! So I quickly realised that I had to go out and find people who liked to read YA fantasy stories and give them a free e-copy in the hope that they would write a review.

I posted an advert in a Goodreads group, and out of the eight free e-copies I sent out, I received four book reviews.

At first I was little confused, naively thinking that all eight would review the book, but the self-publish-ing world is an endless learning process that I think I am currently taking on board without stumbling overly much.

Many of the reviewers enjoyed the novella, but I did not expect everyone to love it because, as readers, we all have different requirements from what we read, so I was simply happy that at least fifty percent of these readers enjoyed it.


Being thick skinned as an author

I have had one or two one-star reviews, and after insanely thinking about what I could have done better, I took on board the more constructive criticism from these reviews and tried to improve these areas in my future books.

I think that online writing forums are amazing because it is always fantastic to speak to someone who is either going through the same ups and downs as you or who simply offers advice because they have experienced similar problems in the past that they can help you with.

When I first started, I only really thought about the books and advertising them, but self-publishing is so much more than simply telling people about the latest book that you are marketing.

Gaining feedback on your work via social media (e.g. Wattpad and Goodreads)

I know it might be hard to give something away for free if you have spent money on getting a book cover artist, proof-reader and copyeditor, but if you do not have any credentials behind you, you need the readers to know who you are and what your work is like before they will take a chance on you. I achieved this by offering free chapters on my blog and Wattpad (@FantasyFairy) and taking part in discussions in Goodreads groups.

I loved communicating with fellow aspiring authors and readers about my work, their own stories and topics relating to the writing world. It was a nice break from writing my own stories, and it even helped me gain new ideas when I had writer’s block.


What is a good review?

Whether it is one star or five, as long as it gives constructive feedback, along with areas for the author to work on in future novels, then it is valuable feedback, but if it makes personal digs without giving examples of problem areas, then it is not constructive.


Who do reviews matter to?

Obviously, all authors would like to receive five-star reviews on Amazon and Smashwords, but I am aware that not everyone will enjoy my work; therefore, I try to take constructive feedback on board and try not to be too disheartened, because for every person who doesn’t like my work, there could be an-other two who love it and want more. Also, while some readers base their purchases on reviews, some do not, and what one person doesn’t like about a book another may enjoy.


Reply to reviews?

I personally do not reply to reviews because I do not have the time to thank reviewers individually, but I do thank readers in my blog and in interviews and guest posts, because without them I would not be doing this.

What are the reviews like on my own work?

So far, the majority of the feedback has been positive, and I thank my readers for all of their support. It has been amazing to connect with them and fellow fantasy film and anime fans, and I look forward to continuing this journey throughout my writing experience. 

Author Info and Book Links
Louise Herman Bio

Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

For more information, please go to: www.louisehermanauthor.com


Thank you so much for participating for the interview and guest post!!