Book Review: Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St. John

I love creating worlds, developing characters and plotting their stories but I struggle with the art of writing and getting the images in my mind written in a coherent, enjoyable way. Part of this is the crippling self-doubt which I have talked about lots on here and some of it is the fact I haven’t got a clue what I am doing. To combat this I am reading around the subject. Thank you to F+W Media and NetGalley for giving me the copy in exchange to an honest review.

Title: Write Smart, Write Happy – how to become a more productive, resilient and successful writer

Author: Cheryl St. John

Publisher: F+W Media, Writer’s Digest Books

Blurb

Vanquish Your Writing Doubts & Obstacles

Writing is a vulnerable occupation; it is both personal and intimate. The act of writing, cycles of revision, and the confusing publishing industry can shatter a writer’s confidence, leaving you feeling like an imposter, overcome with rejection. Survival–and success–requires commitment, honesty, courage, resilience, sacrifice, and miles and miles of heart.

You have everything you need as a writer–it lies within, in the form of consistency and self-confidence. With Write Smart, Write Happy, best-selling author Cheryl St. John will help you unlock your skills, guiding you to overcome every hesitation, obstacle,  form of writer’s block, and procrastination habit you have. Within these pages, you’ll learn to:

Organize your writing life by using a planner, scheduling your yearly goals, and acknowledging career plans.Sharpen your saw by recharging your creativity, developing positive motivation, and creating healthy writing habits.Affirm your beliefs by overcoming self-doubt, learning to use affirmations, and altering your thinking.Conquer remaining fears by releasing tendencies towards perfectionism and establishing strategies for habitual success.Written with a no-nonsense attitude, St. John’s “advice from the trenches” will help you take an introspective look at your own writing habits and life. Through examples and inspiration from writers who struggled with–and overcame–rejection and reservations, discover the path towards writing smarter and happier today.

My Thoughts

This is an encouraging book which helps put writing worries in perspective with advice that can be used in all aspects of life. Cheryl St. John has written over 40 books for Harlequin and Silhouette so has a wealth of information to share including organising your time and work. She is an advocate for planners and gives detailed examples of her own schedule. This is helpful but for someone as disorganised as me it was overwhelming and left me feeling daunted at the challenge ahead, despite her empathising everyone works differently. I nearly stopped reading but am glad I continued because the advice on self-doubt and the chapters beyond came into their own when I hit a writing slump. It is full of quotes to remind you about the realities of writing, positivity, affirmation, tips to help you deal with disappointment, failure, social media and pressures of being a writer. The focus is on traditional publishing so it discusses dealing with editors and deadlines. She backs up all her advice with her own experiences. One of the main messages, like many of these books, is just sit down and write.

Would I recommend?

 If you are struggling with the stress of all aspects of writing, editing and publishing or crippling self-doubt this may be the book to read. It has tips I use regularly and is aimed at writers at all stages of their career.

 

Happy reading and writing

 

Book Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

I was instantly attracted to The Hazel Wood by its dark foreboding cover and intriguing blurb so was pleased when I was given an advanced copy to review by NetGalley and the publishers Penguin Random House UK.

The Hazel Wood cover

 Title    The Hazel Wood

Author  Melissa Albert

Publisher Penguin Random House UK Children’s Penguin

Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began . . .

My Thoughts

Fairy Tales have always intrigued me. Not your saccharine sweet Disney versions but the dark, complex tales passed down the generations by the spoken word before they were captured in print by Perrault and The Grimm Brothers when they provided entertainment lessons for the community.

The Hazel Wood has the elements of these original stories which create a unique dark YA novel. It has all parts of a book  I tend to fall hopelessly in love with – mystery, secrets, dusty bookshops and a book central to the plot with a twist of magic. It may not have grabbed me as much as I hoped (my expectations were maybe too high) but I enjoyed this well written, quirky novel. It was easy to fall into the adventure with Alice as she followed clues with the aid of Finch, a huge fan of her Grandmothers works to search for her mother. Alice’s nomadic childhood has been blighted by a string of bad luck which has made her have an extremely close relationship with her mum, Ella and it is this bond that holds the plot together. Alice is not the most pleasant character with a tendency for uncontrollable anger leading me to question her actions at times but they are in keeping with her personality. There are many unique characters dotted throughout the story, linked together by the fairy tales written by her grandmother.  It is surreal read especially part two which I found reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.

Would I recommend?

I enjoyed it so would recommend it to those who love Caraval by Stephanie Garber or darker YA tales.

Book review: Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

I was attracted to this book for its cover and title – I love sunflowers! I was excited when I received an advanced copy by NetGalley for an honest review.

Book review for Sunflowers in February

Title: Sunflowers in February

Author:  Phyllida Shrimpton

Genre: Young Adult, paranormal, fiction

Blurb

Lily wakes up one crisp Sunday morning on the side of the road. She has no idea how she got there. It is all very peaceful. and very beautiful. It is only when the police car, and then the ambulance arrive, and she sees her own body, that she realises that she is in fact . . . dead.

But what is she supposed do now? Lily has no option but to follow her body and see her family  – her parents and her twin brother start falling apart.

And then her twin brother Ben gives her a once in a deathtime opportunity – to use his own body for a while. But will Lily give Ben his body back? She is beginning to have a rather good time . . .

My Thoughts

What a wonderful, quirky debut. It brought tears to my eyes, made me gasp, chuckle and smile but most of all, it gave me a sense of positivity. Lily has an upbeat personality and experiencing her viewpoint made me look at the world with fresh eyes as well as reach out for the Jelly Tots. My diet has been paused again because of a book.
It is hard to review without giving anything away but it covers the consequences of a death, grief, family bonds and how precious life is. There were times it made me stop, look around me and appreciate the moment. A little bit of mindfulness in a novel.

Who can resist Jelly Tots?

Would I recommend?

Yes! This is the best book I have read this year.

Have you read this yet? Let me know your thoughts below.

 Happy reading!

It is all about Soulmates Part 2: Book Review for The One by John Marrs

This is the second book I have read recently about finding a soulmate. Whereas The Soulweaver had a traditional spiritual take on the idea, John Marrs has taken a scientific approach.

The One by John Marrs

This book had been on my TBR for a while but I was on a long reservation list at the library. Finally, I received a copy but then I was reluctant to open it. I had heard the good reviews and did not want to be disappointed if I felt it did not deserve the hype surrounding it.  I have been bitten a few times like that. The first time I heard about The One was an interview with John Marrs on Simon Mayo’ s Book Club . The idea of finding your soulmate via genetics was fascinating and tantalising close to reality. I love psychological thrillers as a genre so it needed to be read.

 

The One cover
The One by John Marrs

 

Blurb

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes. A quick DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one other person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love. Now, five more people meet their Match. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

My thoughts

My concern about this book not deserving the buzz surrounding it was unfounded. The One is a stunning, fast-paced thriller following five people as they meet the person their DNA dictates is the person they belong with. Each person has taken the test for different reasons, are in different circumstances and the results lead them to deal with different consequences. It is well written and leaves you asking the question “Would you take the test?”. It is a warning of what our future may hold with the rising trend for online dating and genetic discoveries.

Would I recommend?

Definitely. Buy, beg or borrow a copy and book a day off to curl up in a comfy chair to enjoy.

Have you read it?Let me know what you thought below.

Happy reading!

 

It is all about soulmates. Part 1: Book review for The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine

I have recently read two books The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine and The One by John Marrs. They are different styles, different genres and plots but they have one thing in common – finding your soulmate, the one person who fits and understands you like no other. The One has a scientific approach while The Soulweaver is more spiritual but they are both driven by the human desire to be with and loved by that one special person.

 

The Soulweaver by Heidi Catharine

This book snuck in on my best reads of 2017 by default because I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy via NetGalley for review. It is now available to buy in paperback and Kindle.

 

Soulweaver
The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine

 

Blurb

She’s loved and lost him a hundred times across a thousand years. She can’t bear to lose him again. Lin’s dreams are haunted by faces of people she’s never met. Unable to shake the feeling she’s lived before, she’s drawn to Reinier—a stranger whose soul is heartbreakingly familiar from a time gone by. Reinier helps Lin unravel the mystery of her past life as Hannah, a girl who sacrificed herself for her true love, Matthew. As Lin falls hopelessly in love with Reinier, her memories of her life as Hannah sharpen, and she finds herself unable to let go of Matthew. With her heart torn in two, Lin must decide whether she should stand by Reinier’s side or track down Matthew and fight for his love. What she doesn’t know is that her decision will ripple across our troubled planet, affecting far more lives than just her own. Winner of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Pro award, The Soulweaver is a story that will change the way you see the world

My thoughts

I have always had an interest in reincarnation so I was excited to read how Heidi Catherine would weave it into her story.  The Soulweaver is well-written spiritual romance with vivid, detailed imagery for scenes that would be hard to imagine otherwise. I was drawn in by the first chapter and hooked as Lin traveled across the world as to seek answers for the memories she has of Hannah’s life. I found it is easy to connect with the main characters Hannah/Lin, Matthew and Reiner which led to some heart-tugging moments It is a book that will stay with me and one I will return to over and over.

The Soulweaver would be perfect for book clubs because it provides lots of material to discuss including characters, beliefs, and experiences. It leads me to want to read more about the topic of reincarnation and would love to have a cup of tea with the Heidi Catherine to hear about her ideas and how she researched this. I am already counting down to her next book The Truthseeker in May 2018.

Would I recommend?

Yes – if you love romance novels with a paranormal, spiritual edge

To find out more about this series click here

Have you read these, what did you think?

Happy reading!