My Goodreads Challenge 2018: Check!

I’ve passed my Goodreads Challenge 2018 goal, and the books I’ve read are worth talking about!

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At the beginning of the year, I set my Goodreads Challenge goal at 40 books for the year. I figured that was a fair goal, given that I work four days a week at a job that easily takes more than four days a week, and I have other commitments – writing my own books, for example, and rehearsing with the theatre company for a show in May/June before directing and rehearsing my school musical from June to September.

By mid-April, I had read 40 books and extended that goal to 75. There were two reasons for this.

First, being busy, I selected a lot of novellas and short story reads that I could slot in around my busy schedule. A lot of them could be read in the space of thirty minutes to an hour, so they fit into a lunch break really nicely and gave my brain some much needed down time.

Secondly, I hit a patch of writer’s block that hasn’t entirely disappeared yet. Rather than stressing about it, I decided to fuel my imagination and my soul with some great books. I’m still writing poetry, but the fiction brain is on vacation somewhere, and I’m just waiting patiently for it to come back.

So far this year, I’m at the point where I’ve read 77 of 75 books. That’s 77 great Indie authors whose books have received a review and free regular promotion not just on Goodreads and Amazon, but also on the Book Squirrel blog,  Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Every single one of them is a verified purchase review on Amazon. I’m not saying that in the interests of receiving praise or adulation – instead, I’m rather chuffed at being able to do that for authors whose work I admire. I know how hard it is to get someone to review a book, even if they’ve really enjoyed it.

I also want to tell you how good these books I’ve read are.   I deliberately included some reads that I wouldn’t normally select for myself just to broaden the horizons of my book blog. Some weren’t to my preference genre or content wise, but that doesn’t stop me recognising great writing when I see it. I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed them. There is definitely something for everyone on this list.

You can read my reviews of any books you’re interested in on the Book Squirrel blog, or on Goodreads or Amazon simply by searching for the book.

If you’re not following me anywhere that I post reviews, you are most welcome to follow me on Book Squirrel, Twitter, Facebook, GoodreadsGoogle+ or Pinterest.

So take a look at these fabulous books, see what interests you, and check out some great new reads. 

Clicking on the image will take you directly to my Goodreads Challenge 2018, where you can find details on each book’s author, genre, audience, and publication. 

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Friday the 13th 99c Ebook Sale

Don’t miss this fabulous little sale on Friday the 13th. 

A group of very generous authors have put together a collection of great books that are either on sale for 99c or free for Friday 13th.

It’s not just horror – there are mysteries, sci fi humour, YA adventures, poetry and flash fiction included. There really is something for everyone!

If you’re looking for a good new read for the weekend, or always up for a bargain, head over to visit Book Squirrel and see what’s on offer.

Friday 13th 99c sale

 

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If you love reading, you should definitely follow Book Squirrel’s blog for book reviews, new release updates, and author interviews.

Beowulf: A Marvellous Story, Magnificently Told.

Beowulf, a centuries-old epic poem, is a marvellous story, magnificently told.

Beowulf is the oldest poem that we have in an English language. It is a medieval Anglo-Saxon epic poem that tells of the adventures of the hero, a great warrior named Beowulf, who crossed the sea from Sweden and helped the Danes fight the monster Grendel. ‘Beowulf’ is based on an early Germanic tale that relates events which would have happened after the fall of the Roman Empire and before these tribes moved into Britain. It celebrates a culture that glorifies strength, courage, and heroic achievements. These stories were told in verse by poet-singers called scops as a popular form of entertainment.

imagesAfter being passed down as an oral tradition for centuries, Beowulf was written down somewhere between the eighth and tenth centuries in Old English, the language that the Anglo-Saxons spoke in Britain. We don’t know who wrote it, or exactly when or where it was written down, or if the characters in the poem really existed. The single manuscript that still exists was written in two different people’s handwriting. The poem could be one traditional tale, or a combination of a number of folk tales into one great story. There was a Swedish king named Hygelac who died in 521AD, so it is possible that some or all of the characters were based on real people.

Old English is very different to modern English, so the poem has been translated into modern English so that we can still read and understand the poem today.

Perhaps the most distinctive poetic device in Old English poetry is the kenning. A kenning is a short, metaphorical term which describes a thing without using its name. In ‘Beowulf’, the king is referred to as a “ring-giver”, while Beowulf himself is called “Higlac’s follower”. My favourite from ‘Beowulf’ is “whale-road” as a description for the sea– isn’t that magnificent? While we are still very fond of metaphor, I think it’s a shame we don’t make more use of the kenning. Old English poetry was also characterised by strong rhythm and frequent alliteration. This would have helped the scops learn and remember the tale as an oral tradition, and added a musical element to the recitation, as well as making the story pleasant to listen to for the audience.

Beowulf_Manuscript

Modern translations follow the convention of making frequent and consistent use of both kennings and alliteration. This adds a wonderful sensory element to reading the story of Beowulf, which even today is a thrilling read. It delivers elements of adventure, history, heroism, and macabre storytelling.

The poem is way too long to include in this post, but you can find Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, as a safe-to-download PDF at Scribd.
(Note: you do not have to subscribe or accept any trial memberships to get this file.)

There is also a wonderful reading of the poem in contemporary English on Youtube.

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Six 21st Century Poets You Should Be Reading.

Six 21st Century Poets and Why You Should Be Reading Them.

I’m the first to admit that I’m fussy about the poetry I read. I want to experience something moving and powerful in a unique style. I want imagery, colour and movement. I want depth, and I want to be able to feel and hear the poet’s soul. It may be considered “old-school” by some, but I still want to find the music of rhythm and rhyme among the various techniques that a poet uses to deliver their ideas.

So, when I tell you that these are the poets you should be reading, please understand that this is not just a nod to people I like or who have pretty book covers. These people don’t just write poetry— they are poets, and they take their craft seriously. These poets can really take a reader beyond themselves, open a reader’s mind, and influence them so that they see things in a completely new way.

These Six 21st Century Poets You Should Be Reading are not listed in any order of preference. If you want to explore their work further, simply click on the cover of each book.

Lyra Shanti

Author of ‘Sediments’.

Lyra Shanti Sediments

Shanti’s poetry is rich and sensory, full of imagery that draws the reader into the emotion and wellsprings of the poet’s mind.
Drawing on mythological themes and elements of Biblical allegory, although it is by no means religious poetry, Shanti explores her place in time, relationships, and the universe through themes of belonging, human vulnerability, equality, and home. She is a master of contrast and balance, weighing sensitivity against images of those things that overwhelm, and confidence in belonging despite her humility, framed within a very real sense of awareness of the immeasurable breadth and depth of the universe.

 

Patrick Williams
Author of ‘Lethal As Love’.

Patrick Williams Lethal As Love
Patrick Williams’ poems are beautiful in the simplicity and honesty of the feelings they convey, even though the feelings they communicate are at times complex and conflicted. There is no pretence or affectation in Williams’ writing, nor is there any strict observance of rhythm, rhyme or other particular poetic techniques. Instead, he uses language and form to evoke a strong sense of love and longing that is almost tangible as he leads the reader on a journey through the highs and lows of the love he so powerfully communicates in these poems.
Some of this poetry is quite erotic, so it’s definitely only for an adult audience, but there’s nothing gratuitous or tawdry about it. One could learn quite a lot about how to love deeply and sensuously from reading ‘Lethal as Love’, but there is also a more sombre lesson to be heeded: nothing lasts forever.  It is clear from ‘Lethal as Love’, though, that the pleasure and passion were definitely worth the pain.

 

Sarah Northwood
Author of ‘The Truths We Tell’.
Sarah Northwood The Truths We Tell
Sarah Northwood gives voice to thoughts and feelings commonly experienced, but often not so thoughtfully expressed, by people in all walks of life.
Northwood explores the ways in which we respond to the situations and feelings that challenge us and those things that fill and complete us. The reality of being haunted by regret and the “what ifs” of life is contrasted with the whimsy of fleeting happiness and the irresistible, transforming power of love.
Through all of this is the reminder that life is what it is: “Feeling the breeze on her cheek she knew, the wind can never be the sun.” (Unique)

 

Joseph Ferguson
Author of ‘Reflections of a Scurvy Bastard’

Joseph Ferguson Reflections of a Scurvy Bastard
Ferguson writes with a very strong sense of realism and a degree of world-weariness in his profound poems that work like snapshots of different events and memories. He has a gift for creating vivid images that transport the reader to another time and place, and making it seem absolutely real.
When Joseph Ferguson’s poetry is recognised as ‘classic’ and he is regaled world-wide as a master poet, it shall come as no surprise to me.

 

Shelby Leigh
Author of ‘It Starts Like This’
Shelby Leigh It Starts Like This

Leigh’s poetry is thoughtful and often intense in its exploration of love, loss, anger,   loneliness and grief, and is highly relatable for anyone who has experienced the breakdown of a relationship or been let down by someone they trusted.
Her poetry and expression are accessible and easily understood, and Leigh’s imagery is often quite stark and raw, but that is where her strengths as a poet lie.

 

 

Joanne Van Leerdam 
Author of ‘Leaf’, ‘Nova’, ‘Stained Glass’ and ‘The Passing Of The Night’. 

 

Yes, that’s me, and those are my own books. Obviously, I write the type of poetry I want to read. Don’t take my word for it, though – I have compiled this description with quotations from different Amazon reviewers. 

“Joanne Van Leerdam is a master poet who combines an old-worldly feel to her poetry with a modern flavor.”
“Joanne Van Leerdam’s poems are about the emotional fragility of human existence, about the brittleness of love and about living with love lost. She expresses both the sense of frailty and the strength of resilience in her reflections, as if a lonely survivor on a faraway island.”
“Many of her poems are conventional in structure, with a regular rhyme scheme, traditional yet so sensitive and vulnerable that they emerge as special, standing out like novae in the vast night sky.
Her poems don’t crash through the door, flourishing their creative uniqueness, but in a quiet voice Van Leerdam almost whispers to us to let her poems come in as she both exposes the emotional pains of life and provides comfort for them.”

I’d love to know if you are encouraged to try any of these poets’ works, and if you do, what you think of them. You’re always welcome to leave a comment on this, or any other, post. 

Have a safe, happy and Bookish Easter!

Two great book events this Easter weekend.

There are two great book events this Easter weekend that readers should be keen to join in.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that people set aside any religious observance, be it of Passover or Easter or another festival. Each of these book events can be enjoyed individually and privately at home, whenever it suits individuals to join in.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you a most enjoyable holiday weekend, whether you’re religious or not. We know there are more people on the roads, so please stay safe!

 

Sparkly Badgers’ Easter Egg Hunt.

This event runs all weekend. It has been organised by a sensational group of Indie authors known universally as The Sparkly Badgers— they’re very good friends of  Book Squirrel, with whom all readers of my blog should be familiar by now. In all honesty, it’s much easier if you just accept that there are bookish forest creatures, and move on.

How it works: Follow the trail of mystery eggs from website to website, and collect the clues. Answer the question at the end successfully, and you win a prize.

Sparkly Badgers Egg Hunt

One contestant will receive a copy of each of the books shown below and an actual chocolate egg.

All contestants who successfully complete the quest will receive their choice of one of the books offered by the Sparkly Badgers, who are not only brilliantly talented but also incredibly generous.

 

Hopping Good Reads. 

On offer are a range of excellent books, in different genres, and by different authors from the Indie Coffee Lounge Facebook group. Every book listed is only 99c, or 99p if you’re in the UK.
That means you can fill up your Kindle or Kindle app with great reads at bargain prices.

This event runs on Saturday, March 31st, only.

Click either image to head over and start browsing.

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The books are listed with information about their genre and recommended audience.

Take a look at the great books in this promotion! From poetry to mystery, romance to horror, there’s something here for everyone.

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My books – Stained Glass and The Silver Feather – are already both 99c, and I know some (although not all) of the others are, too. So if you’re busy all weekend, you could even start early!

Be sure to follow all the authors on Twitter so you can keep up with all their latest news and adventures in writing:

Enjoy!

Books, Authors, Double Standards and Snobbery.

There remains a commonly held view that all Indie books are somehow sub-standard. This perception could not be more wrong.

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I am perpetually frustrated by the disdain that many have for Indie authors. Indie artists, musicians, and filmmakers are applauded for daring to step out, break the mould and do their own thing in defiance of the industries that are perceived to have grown too big, too powerful, too rich.

Nobody hesitates to go to a doctor or lawyer who owns their own practice. People don’t think twice about having their car serviced by a mechanic who runs a local garage. They’re independent practitioners within their industry, too. Let’s face it, there are some shonky ones out there – in any industry – but they are the vast minority, and their behaviour should never be used as the yardstick by which all others are measured.

So why is the double standard against Indie authors still not only acceptable, but so widely endorsed?

woman with bookI won’t deny that I’ve picked up two or three books that I just couldn’t finish because they were either poorly written, poorly edited, or just not very good at all. But two or three out of more than 150 is a very small percentage, where the others have consistently ranged between very good and excellent quality in terms of both writing and production.

Having been an avid reader all my life, it’s also true that I’ve read – or rejected – a number of books that weren’t so great in the traditionally published world, too. Some I just couldn’t get into – even among the most famous and widely commended are certain ‘literary greats’ whose writing I just don’t appreciate. There are also traditionally published books that remain popular among less discerning readers and sell quite well, despite the fact that the writing and/or story lines really are… well… rubbish.

I’ve read almost exclusively Indie books for more than a year. I am continually impressed by the originality of the stories, the high standard of writing, and the depth of creative talent. I’ve posted countless book reviews for these books, and have shared my appreciation of both books and authors far and wide, because those books deserve to be read and appreciated.

Having been an avid reader all my life, I’ve read – or rejected – a number of books that weren’t so great in the traditionally published world, too. Some I just couldn’t get into – even among the most famous and widely commended are certain ‘literary greats’ whose writing I just don’t appreciate. There are also traditionally published books that remain popular among less discerning readers and sell quite well, despite the fact that the writing and/or storylines really are rubbish.

Indie authors are, more often than not, Indie by choice. For many, the first foray into traditional publishing has ended up being a very negative and traumatic experience. For some, their publishers have closed down, leaving the author without their rights, unpaid and unable to sell or market their work. Other companies have published books and then done nothing, leaving them to languish in obscurity unless the author does their own marketing.

Sure, that hasn’t happened to J.K. Rowling or George R. R. Martin. People need to understand, though, that they are the exceptions, not the rule. That kind of success doesn’t just happen for everyone who writes a fantastic book or series, and it’s well-established fact that it almost didn’t happen for Rowling either.

Last week, I saw someone comment on social media platform in a most derisive tone that “traditional publishers won’t touch anything that’s been self-published”. My response was that it’s their loss. And when it comes to my own work, they’re not welcome to.

Like many others, I choose to be Indie because I control my own intellectual property, I retain my legal rights to my work, and I earn the royalties for my books. My hard work is not lining the pockets of some faceless company that pays a small fraction of the earnings of a book to the author and gets fat on the rest, without actually doing much in the way of marketing or promotion. Marketing and promotion is really hard work, there’s no doubt about it. But if I have to do the schlepp work anyway, why would I let someone else have control of my work? And I can take pride in the fact that I have earned every review, every award, and every cent, on my own.

In the end, I choose to be Indie because there is nobody in this world as committed to my books or my career as an author than I am.

It’s time we got rid of the double standard that celebrates Indie music and art, and which takes pride in supporting local and artisan businesses, but considers Indie books and authors to be something less than their traditional counterparts.

Indie authors are doing their part by writing and producing excellent books.

Readers are doing themselves a gross disservice by accepting the kind of intellectual snobbery at the heart of this double standard. I’m confident they will be more than pleasantly surprised when they finally choose to set prejudice aside and find out what they’ve been missing out on.

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Women in Horror: 10 Authors You Should Read

I’m going to do you a favour and introduce you to ten women authors who write great horror.

Horror as a genre is as varied as any other. While everyone raves about Stephen King and Ann Rice – and there’s no doubt, they are what horror writers would aspire to become – it doesn’t mean that anyone who writes differently, or in a less mainstream sub-genre, isn’t worth reading.

Over the past year or so, I’ve read some fabulous horror books and stories by women who were new to me at the time, but they have quickly become some of my favourites.

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them before – I’m going to do you a favour and introduce them here. All you need to do to find their books is click on the author’s name.


Jane Jago is a multi-genre author whose novel ‘Who Put Her In?’ has a delicious, slow build and some finely crafted moments of horror. If you’re new to reading horror and unsure of how intense you want it to be, this book would be a great starting point.

D.J. Doyle writes horror stories that are often based in Celtic legend and religion.
Where to start: The Celtic Curse: Banshee



A. Drew
is the author of The Dowling House, a story of haunting and possession.

Nikki Landis writes both paranormal romance and horror. There’s even a little horror in her paranormal romance books, so it’s a win-win if you like both genres.
Where to start: Reaper’s Folly


Fiona Hogan writes  beautifully crafted contemporary Gothic stories.
An additional advantage to her story collections is that they’re great for busy people who don’t always have time to delve into a whole novel.
Where to start: The Nightmare
Lucretia Stanhope writes both paranormal romance and horror.  Another win-win for people who enjoy both genres!

Where to start: Beating Hearts



A.M. Rycroft
is the author of dark fantasy novels and some excellent horror short stories.  Again, these are great for someone with limited time available for reading.
Where to start: The Clearing

 

Lily Luchesi writes paranormal novels as well as some horror.
Where to start: Never Again

Logan Keys writes both dystopian and horror books.
Where to start: Unhinged.

 

Joanne Van Leerdam writes both poetry and horror, although only occasionally does she write both at the same time.
Where to start: The Silver Feather
Okay. This is my book. But there are no rules against self-promotion!

There are also some great horror anthologies available, in which you’ll find a great range of stories and styles, with something to please everyone.

 

Beautiful Nightmares        Ghostly Writes         Damsels Of Distress

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Calling All Romantics!

Attention: Romantics. This is for you!

Happy_Valentine's_Day...!

In addition to being Women in Horror Month, February is also celebrated worldwide as the month of love. Valentines Day is the most popular day for declarations of love, marriage proposals, fancy dinners, and gifts of long stemmed roses and chocolates.

We all know, though, that these things aren’t really what love is all about. It’s way more complex, and far more frustrating, than that.

I’ve been privileged to be part of a group of authors who have collected excerpts about different aspects of love from their books into ‘All About Love’ an online magazine, completely free for all readers, which is available now for your reading pleasure. I’m not someone who enjoys reading a lot of romance, especially if it’s clichéd, but I’ve enjoyed reading this magazine because the pieces are varied and interesting, and have been drawn from different genres and styles of writing.

If reading about love and romance doesn’t interest you, feel free to keep scrolling past. We won’t be offended. But for all the romantics, the dreamers, the lovers and the hopeful folk out there – this one’s for you.

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We hope that you enjoy this collection, and that you find some great books in there that you’d like to read in full.

Enjoy!

WordyNerdBird’s “One Click” Authors.

There are many authors whose work I love reading. My to-be-read list is populated with dozens of books by fine writers, many of them Indies who write every bit as well as traditionally published authors.

Some, though, are on a special list. These are the writers whose book I will buy with the “Buy with 1 click” button on Amazon without needing to read a blurb, check out the cover, or read reviews to see what others have to say. 

Without an exception, these authors are brilliant writers who deliver original, interesting and entertaining books every single time. I love the way they use words and the ways in which they stretch and stimulate my mind.

These are my “One Click” authors – in no particular order of preference. They’re all at the top of the list.

J.B Richards – historical fiction
Eva Pasco – contemporary fiction
R.M. Gauthier – mystery/thriller, romance
Aliya DalRae – paranormal mystery/romance
Lyra Shanti – sci-fi/space opera, poetry
Missy Sheldrake – fantasy
S.K Wee – fantasy
T.J. Green – fantasy
D.J. Doyle – horror
Nikki Landis – romance, mystery, horror
Eric Tanafon – fantasy with a paranormal element
Tima Maria Lacoba – paranormal
Miranda Brock – contemporary fantasy
India Emerald – magical realism, contemporary fiction
Neil Gaiman – fantasy, macabre
J.K. Rowling – magical realism, fantasy

Check In: Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017

Are you doing a Goodreads Reading Challenge this year?

Are you doing a Goodreads Reading Challenge this year?

 
I set myself a goal of 40 books, because I have a day job and a burning need to write things.
So far, I’ve read and reviewed 44 books, so I’m pretty happy with that!
 
How are you going with yours?
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Feel free to follow me as an author on Goodreads.