Saturday, 14 June 2014

Three short non-fiction ebooks I got for free

These were all links to free promotions which I followed from Twitter or the KDP forums. I'm actually glad I didn't pay anything for any of them, as I wasn't particularly impressed. I think there are a lot of authors, mostly in the US, churning out very short non-fiction books. They give them a great title and cover, but the content isn't up to much.

3-Step e-book Ranking System by E. McNew
Can't provide a link as I can no longer find this on Amazon. It may be this one renamed or a taster of it. The author claimed the book would give you secret ways of improving your ebook rankings. She talks about colours of covers - what colours relate to different genres, and what would draw a browser in. I think the sections on each colour must be written in different colours, because on my basic black and white kindle some of this text was pale grey and hard to read. She talks about pen names and pricing. She mentions very briefly the need to edit and format your book and how to upload it to KDP. Then she talks about categorising your book - the essence of this section seems to be to find a small category and put it there, so you have more chance of hitting number one.

The psychology parts were a bit homespun to say the least. The sections on uploading and editing weren't anything much to do with the point of the book. Some of the stuff on categorising and picking keywords was interesting but is covered in more depth on the KDP help pages.

Short, badly formatted, poorly planned.

Author's Quick Guide to Editing your Book by Kristen Eckstein
Needed an edit itself. Several typos in this book, which is unfortunate given its subject matter, and not really acceptable given its brief length. The book talks about whether you should employ a ghost writer (really?), a structural editor or a copy editor. There's a very brief section on making sure you know the difference between affect and effect, compliment and complement etc, and how to use commas.  Part way through the author admits this book was written in a day, as part of a challenge to publish a book a week. It shows. it's one of a series of quick guides for authors but I won't be downloading any others, even if they're free.

Knee Pain Cure by Ace McCloud
This book wins an award for the longest ever subtitle which I can't be bothered to type out. I have dodgy knees so when I saw this one for free I downloaded it, hoping to pick up a few tips. It's mostly about dealing with and recovering from knee injuries. Arthritis is given a passing mention. There's a lot about possible surgeries to repair knees, and no real advice for coping with or minimising regular age-related wear and tear. So nothing in it for me, and again, another book which came across as poorly planned.

The Oyster Catcher

The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas 

This book won the RNA Joan Hessayon award 2014, which was presented at the RAN summer party I attended. So I had to read it, to see how it shaped up to other novels nominated for that award.

Fiona is jilted at the altar, after the vows but before signing the register. Her groom runs off with his best man. She runs off in the campervan they were supposed to honeymoon in, and finds herself on the west of Ireland, with a torn wedding dress, a crashed campervan, unsuitable shoes and no money. None of that is spoilers by the way - that's all given in a prologue. It's in Dooleybridge, a tired, small Irish town, that the novel begins. Fi finds herself a job helping on an oyster farm, with grumpy Sean Thornton, who has a hidden past of his own. Fi needs to get over her fear of water, accept the past and find herself a new future. And of course, she falls in love along the way...

I very much enjoyed this novel. What an unusual setting and background - I learned a lot about oyster farming along the way. The author clearly did her research! I love the west of Ireland so found myself feeling very much at home in this novel. I caught myself thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it - and couldn't wait to get back to it each time. A real feel-good story with likeable characters and a wonderful sense of place. A well-deserved winner of the award, and it looks like it's doing very well on the Amazon charts as well.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Wish List

The Wish List by Della Galton

Wendy's trying to move on after a divorce, and discovers a wish list she'd written years before. Her friend helps her start achieving some of them, which involves going to a farm to cuddle a piglet... and the farmer's quite dishy.... you can see where this one's going!

The perfect little novella, lovely characters, an easy read and a feel-good ending. Perfect for reading on a train journey, as I did the other day.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Marlene and Sofia

Marlene and Sofia, a double love story by Pedro Barrento

(will add link once it's been published)

** I was sent an advance review copy of this book **

Having read this author's previous novel, The Prince and the Singularity, I knew I was in for an unusual and imaginative read with this one, and I wasn't disappointed.

The book begins with a marvellous piece of meta-fiction. The author has been given characters and settings for his next novel. Trouble is, they're not quite what he wanted, and it seems he's not at liberty to write his own book using them, anyway. He's got to bow down and do what the all-powerful literary guild tell him. 

But he gets on with writing his own book anyway, starting with the chapters the guild sent him (people with colourful pasts in an old folks home, taking virtual tours (and more!) of Lisbon) and moving on to the title characters, two very different but equally beautiful young ladies. 

There are a lot of characters in the early part of this book, but it all comes together soon, and from that point on it's hard to put the book down. The characters are brilliantly drawn, the writing style is simple and elegant, and the plot is intricate, layered and thoughtful.

Highly recommended. I really hope we see more from this author.