Book Review: Ghosts of Lock Tower by @JackMassa2 #YA #Fantasy #Paranormal

Ghosts of Lock Tower by Jack Massa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is the third book in the Abby Renshaw series and my first introduction to author Jack Massa.

I’m so glad I discovered this author. Jack Massa’s magical writing is really up my street. I loved the character of Abby (who is on the cusp of eighteen but not your ordinary girl!) and all the subsidiary characters including her loveable grandma. Even Abby’s car Veronica has a character of its own as she names it too!

It’s a quirky tale – think frog monster – so if you like quirky you will like this. There is magic, two different magical societies, sigils, tarot, seances , astral projection, psychic abilities, ‘egregore (thought forms,) etc, with some lovely touches of humour.

To add to the story mix there is also a murder on campus and a Nazi ghost. Abby’s blossoming romance and an ex in the picture – better not say anymore for fear of spoiling it for you.

All in all a well written, engaging book, with a great heroine to cheer for.

There is an interesting author’s note at the end of the book about the locations: ‘Harmony Springs is fictional, although based on some actual places in central Florida.’
‘Lock Tower is based on the real Bok Tower in Lake Wales… ‘

All sounds fascinating I like narratives that are based on real places and people.

I received a copy from the author and happily give my unbiased review – M J Book Reviews


Buying link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0997646160/
http://www.triskelionbooks.com

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8 Steps to Side Characters #ARC #Review #Launch @Sacha_Black

MJ’s Review

8 Steps To Side Characters is part of Sacha Black’s many writing craft books – other titles include: 13 steps to Evil, 10 steps to Hero, and the Anatomy Of Prose.

Thank you so much for an ARC copy of 8 steps to side characters which I freely give my review and opinion of.

Sacha Black’s writing style is engaging, humourous, clear and informative. I definitely learnt a lot about writing side characters and also discovered how important these pesky folk are!

I had some laugh out loud moments. Here’s an example:

“If you don’t layer your conflict, and you only have world ending levels of conflict at every opportunity, it’s like electrocuting your readers over and over again.”

Yes, this had me in chortles.

Also, there are many light bulb moments too.

“It’s a misnomer that to create big universal feelings you have to describe giant emotions. It’s actually the small, unique and intangible things about our loved ones that create that effect.”

And…

“One thing all readers share in common is a heartfelt solidarity for a character going through shit times.”

“Just because you craft characters to be one way for the majority of the time, say, kind and tolerant, doesn’t mean they have to be that way or feel that way for the entire story.”

I read this on my kindle and highlighted lots of passages to refer to later.

At the end of each step she summarises all the important ideas that she has mentioned. There are also Questions to consider. Plus she makes it all really clear with real examples from film, and books (with spoiler warnings for well known books.)

Recommendation: Read this! Highly recommended – a must read and one to refer back to. 5 stars.

INSTAGRAM / YOUTUBE TIPS SERIES

She’s been sharing a tip a day from the book in a IGTV / Youtube video series. If you’d like to watch the tips or share the series, you can by visiting her on instagram or YouTube:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sachablackauthor/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCmGEeUxCRW5ZVxwJ_mEunw 

Live Events

Join Sacha on launch day, 29th July, in her Facebook group for a live Q&A session. If you have any questions about writing, publishing, marketing, her books, unicorns or anything in between, hit her up on sachablack@sachablack.co.uk and let her know, or drop it in the Facebook group/event page here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rebelauthors/

Event: https://fb.me/e/GVZcAjmm  

 Your Side Characters and You LIVES

As part of the launch week, Sacha will be interviewing nine authors all about their side characters, their favorite side characters from books and films as well as their tips for creating better characters. And She’ll be doing that all LIVE on instagram every night at 8pm from the 30th July to the 8th August.

  • Friday 30th July – Mark Lefebvre from Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing Podcast
  • Saturday 31st July Jeff Adams from Big Gay Fiction podcast
  • Sunday 1st August Katlyn Duncan YouTuber and author
  • Monday 2nd August Daniel Willcocks, my Next Level Authors cohost, book coach and horror authors
  • Tuesday 3rd August Crys Cain, host of Write Away, cohost of TASM and author
  • Wednesday 4th August Kristina Stanley, CEO of Fictionary.co
  • Thursday 5th Helen Scheuerer author of fantasy
  • Friday 6th Miranda Bridges romance author
  • Saturday 7th Elaine Bateman urban fantasy author and staff writer at Indie Author Magazine
  • Sunday 8th August – if I haven’t collapsed, will be a solo show from me!

Buying Links:

Universal purchase link textbook: books2read.com/sidecharacters 

Universal purchase link workbook: books2read.com/sideworkbook 

Impressive! Or what…

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MJ’s Book Reviews: Life is like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony #poetry #newrelease @sgc58

“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” Arthur Brisbane 1911.

An image offers an opportunity to see endless possibilities depending on the viewer’s perspective. Where some might see beauty and joy, others imagine sadness and loss of hope.

In this collection, images and syllabic poetry are brought together to tell a story based on the author’s perspective. The poetry explores our human experiences such as love, happiness, hope, aging, friendship, new beginnings, dreams and loss.

The world around us is an amazing playground and source of all our essential needs as well as sensory experiences that bring wonder into our lives. What lies beyond the horizon? What surprises will we discover as a garden bursts into bloom? Where do the night creatures live?

At the end of the collection there are some longer poems celebrating memories of the author’s life of travel, teenage exploits and love of food!

My review

Life is like a Mosaic: Random fragments in harmony by Sally Cronin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What strikes me about Sally Cronin’s books is the quiet unassuming way in which they appear without too much fanfare. Sally is a wonderful supporter of the indie writing community, so I am glad to be able to give her a little fanfare too by writing a review for her latest book Life is Like A Mosiac: Random Fragments in Harmony. Great title, I’m sure you will agree!

I loved the dedication within with all the names of the people within her writing circles, so lovely.

I’m a big fan of poetry in all its forms, so this book of eclectic poems from Sally Cronin really appealed to me. There are a wide variety, some wise, some amusing, some thoughtful, some just darn well cute. They are all beautiful presented with accompanying photographs taken from various sources.

Favourites include: Farewell to Colourful Friends, Spices, Dreams, Happiness, Mother Nature, Immortality, Hope, Loose Lips, First Steps, The Circle of Life, Finding Clarity, Creatures of The Night, A Toast to Life, Beneath The Redwoods, Persecution in The Garden, Advancing Years, The Crocodile, Silver Lining to Isolation, The Wise Woman’s Apprentice.

Some are illustrated with personal photographs taken from the authors Childhood Memories in Ceylon, and on Summer Holidays, and as she gets a bit older she becomes Rebellious in Frome!

This poetry collection is accessible, unpretentious, (which I love,) and enjoyable. It will make you smile, reflect and bring back your own memories of when you were young, mischievous and perhaps a little difficult too!

In my case, it brought back memories of when I lived abroad in Childhood Memories – Sally’s poetry spoke to me taking me back in time.

Highly recommended – 5 stars

Many thanks to the author for an ARC copy for review which I happily give with no bias.

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My previous reviews for Sally Cronin:

Details about Sally Cronin:

Delighted to promote authors for FREE please see for details: Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore

And the new: Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room

Sally’s books are available on Amazon, the Moyhill site and  Smashwords. 

Amazon: Amazon US

Amazon UK: Amazon UK

More reviews can be found on GoodreadsGoodreads

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2021/

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MJ’s Book Reviews: Perfect Daughter by @MrsAmandaProuse #BookReview #WomensFiction #Contemporary

Wife. Mother. Daughter. What happens when it all becomes too much?

Jackie loves her family. Sure, her teenage children can be stroppy. Her husband a little lazy. And providing round-the-clock care for her Alzheimer’s-ridden mother is exhausting. She’s sacrificed a lot to provide this safe and loving home, in their cramped but cosy semi with a view of the sea.

All Jackie wants is for her children to have a brighter future than she did. So long as Martha, the eldest, gets into university and follows her dreams, all her sacrifice will be worth something… won’t it? 

My Review

Perfect Daughter (No Greater Strength, #1)Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With a title like that I was bound to be drawn in! I’m a daughter, and have two daughters of my own.

This is an immersive story about Jacks and her family, her husband Pete, her mum Ida and her daughter Martha. It’s also a story about regrets, the choices we make, the fears that we could have taken a different path and perhaps had a more exciting life. Perfect Daughter doesn’t shy away from life’s difficulties and real struggles: looking after an aging parent with Alzheimer and keeping the family on an even keel especially when life has a way of veering off course bringing more grief in its wake.

Perfect Daughter doesn’t hide away from these issues, at times it’s quite difficult reading and at other times it is heart warming and uplifting. It is a generational story focusing on three female family members: Jack’s mother Ida, Jacks and Jack’s daughter situation too.

There is a sense of history repeating itself. Can Jacks discover what really matters beyond material wealth and the freedoms it brings?

Perfect Daughter whizzes back and forward giving us a taste of life when Jacks was younger to the present day difficulties. Should she stay with dependable Pete, (who was there for her through thick and thin,) or should she risk throwing it all away for a promise of rekindled love with someone who could give supposedly give her everything?

Thank you to the author for kindly gifting a hardback copy. My review is freely given and without bias.

Highly recommended.

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Authors Website: https://www.amandaprowse.com/

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New Edition. The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone #Review #YA #Fantasy @RichardDockett1

Source: New Edition. The Curse of Time – Book 1 – Bloodstone

Thank you so much to Richard Dee for promoting the new edition of my YA Fantasy Bloodstone in the Curse of Time series.

Pop over to his blog to read his 5 star review via the link above.

It’s time for another book review. This week, my choice is a recently re-released Y.A. Fiction adventure.

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Book Review: Sugar and Snails @Annecdotist @InspiredQuill

Goodreads Synopsis

Shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

My review

This is the first book I’ve read from Anne Goodwin. Sugar and Snails is her debut novel and what an impressive story it is. Anne draws upon her psychiatric knowledge to write a narrative which is absorbing, poignant and intriguing.

To begin with we are introduced to Diana a 40 something Professor living a life of solitude with her much loved cat Marmaduke (who almost takes on the role of a life partner – she can’t bare to part with him.) Diana begins looking for love and hopes to find it with Simon.

But Simon doesn’t know her secret…

As the story progresses we learn that there is so much more to this novel – discovering Diana’s past and her decision at the tender age of 15 to change gender. So this is both a coming-of-age story as well as an exploration of mid-life and gender issues. There are shifting time periods and settings in different cultures: (Cairo, Egypt and North Derbyshire, and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, in England,) which interweave the story in a confident way.

The characters of Diana’s mother and in particular her father are also carefully and brilliantly crafted.

My recommendation: Highly recommended. You will love this story if you enjoy thoughtful stories about gender, family relationships, psychiatric/mental health/self-harm issues, secrets and regrets and the search for love and acceptance.

Thank you so much to the author for a complimentary copy which I was pleased to receive. I happily give my unbiased opinion.

My rating: 5 stars.

Author Bio:

Anne Goodwin writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital.

Authors Blog: annegoodwin.weebly.com

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Book Review: Share Some Secrets @ChristiGabbitas @nspcc #NSPCC #safeguarding #children

Synopsis:

Share Some Secrets, is a story that encourages children to think about the secrets they should and shouldn’t keep, encouraging them to speak out without fear, by giving praise. The story is also available on audio and free to download. Synopsis: The story begins with Mum, (Emily) telling the family about a surprise party for Granny, and that it’s a secret that she would like them all to keep. Billy notices that Milly is always quiet, after their Uncle has visited. Billy encourages Milly to share her secret which she eventually shares with her teacher. The issue is addressed and Milly is praised by the teacher and her family. The story ends with a surprise party for Granny.

My review

Share Some Secrets by Christina Gabbitas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I am glad to be able to review and share my opinion on such an important topic handled with great kindness and sensitivity. The message of Share Some Secrets is implied through picture rhyming audio and in paperback (for ages around 5 – 8 year old.) The emphasis is on praise – encouraging the child to come forward and share their secret and not to be afraid to do so.

The publication has been endorsed by the NSPCC and Barnardo’s.

In the story Milly is finding is hard to say what her secret is but with the help of her kind brother Billy she manages to get the help she needs.

The illustrations by Ric Lumb accompanying the text enhance the message well. Making it easy for young children to understand how important it is to speak out – even if that secret is embarrassing or distressing – or involves a person in a position of trust, such as a family member.

The story ends on a happy note and there is a short but all important reminder at the end about how important it is to share your secret.

This should be used as a teaching aid in all schools so that children can understand that is okay to speak out and to get help.


My recommendation: Highly recommended. 5 stars

Thank you to the author Christina Gabbitas for gifting me a copy. I happily give my unbiased and considered review.

I have also reviewed another title from Christina Gabbitas – No More Knives.

Link to the review for No More Knives: https://mjmallon.com/2020/11/30/book-…



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https://www.christinagabbitas.com/share-some-secrets/

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Book Review Will You Remember Me (No Greater Love #6) by @MrsAmandaProwse

My review

Will You Remember Me? by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


4.5 stars
Confession… I’ve never read Amanda Prouse before – which puts me in the minority. This is the final book in the No Greater Love series. I haven’t read the rest of the series but could engage with the story and the characters without any trouble.

Will You Remember Me was such a moving and sad read. There were times when I had to pause, cry, take a break and then read on. What struck me most about this novel is how painful it must be for young cancer patients to cope with the thought of leaving their family and loved ones behind. I can’t imagine anything more devastating. And it is clear that Amanda Prouse wrote this novel with these thoughts in mind.

You could feel Poppy’s pain on learning about her diagnosis, her determination to carry on and fight it alone by keeping the terrible news from her much loved husband. Of course, as her sickness grows this becomes impossible to hide and impossible to do.

There were other details, a long lost family member in St. Lucia – which added a much needed break and a way for Poppy perhaps to come to terms with her fate and to accept that we all die but perhaps it is how we live and how we forgive that makes the difference.

The male characters in the novel: her son, (being so young,) and (to a degree,) her husband are not quite as detailed and fade a bit into the background. The character spotlight is and should be on Poppy, she pulls at your heart strings. I also found her daughter Peg to be very engaging and a much needed source of light and hope in what is after all a dark tale.

Thank you so much to the author for a signed copy. All opinions are my own and unbiased.

My recommendation: I enjoy and appreciate stories that tug at the heartstrings. A highly recommended and emotional read.


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Authors Website: http://www.amandaprowse.org

Have you read Amanda Prouse’s books? Do comment below.


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Book Review of Word Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry @ColleenChesebro

Amazon Synopsis:

Are you ready to learn how to craft Japanese and American poetry? Consider this book the first step on your journey to learning the basics of how to craft syllabic poetry. Inside, you will discover many new forms, syllable combinations, and interpretations of the different Japanese and American forms and structures of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, renga/solo renga, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, the cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry.

So… what are you waiting for? Let’s craft syllabic poetry together!

My review

Word Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic PoetryWord Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen M. Chesebro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a comprehensive guide covering both American and Japanese poetry including Haiku, Senryu, Haiga, Tanka, Gogyohka, Haibun, Renga, Crapsey Cinquain Etheree, Nonet, Shadorma, and variations, as well as examples of all the forms and recaps to refresh the memory too.

It is written in such a way that it is easy to understand and get the most from.

The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry begins with an introduction to how Colleen’s journey began – her poetry community, and goes on to discuss definitions of “meter, syllable, and stresses,” and the hard work required to find your creative soul. She suggests ways to encourage creativity, and talks about figurative language too.

It is clear that author Colleen Chesebro has put her heart and soul into this guide and loves helping others to be the best poets they can be. She runs a wonderful community of poets with weekly prompts, (which again must be an incredible amount of work,) and is now expanding her repertoire to include online submissions to her poetry venture with poet JulesPaige. Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com more about that below in her Bio.

What an incredible amount of work, dedication and research has gone into this book and into everything that Colleen Chesebro does.

It is a wonderful resource for both new students of poetry to learn and to refer to whilst writing poetry and for old hands, (such as me,) to jog our memories and to avoid making careless mistakes about the forms!

There is a bibliography at the end with the names/links/detail of all the poets who have contributed to the anthology. I’m delighted that my #Garland #Cinquain poem is included amongst this section along with so many awesome contributions from poetry community members.

My recommendation: This is a fabulous book, and one that Colleen Chesebro should be very proud of.

5 stars. I’ll be buying a paperback to use as a resource.

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Biography

Colleen M. Chesebro is a Michigan Poet who loves crafting syllabic poetry, flash fiction, and creative fiction and nonfiction. Colleen sponsors a weekly poetry challenge, called Tanka Tuesday, on wordcraftpoetry.com where participants learn how to write traditional and current forms of syllabic poetry.

Along with JulesPaige, Colleen is also a co-editor of “Word Weaving, a Word Craft Journal of Syllabic Verse,” at wordweavingpoetryjournal.com. The debut issue of this journal will publish in October 2021.

Colleen’s syllabic poetry has appeared in various other online publications. Recently, she created the Double Ennead, a 99-syllable poetry form for Carrot Ranch. Colleen’s poetry has poetry in various anthologies and journals including “Hedgerow-a journal of small poems,” and “Poetry Treasures,” a collection of poetry from the poet/author guests of Robbie Cheadle on the “Treasuring Poetry” blog series on “Writing to be Read” in 2020.

Colleen published “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry, The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry,” which illustrates how to write various syllabic poetry forms used in her Tanka Tuesday challenges; and a collection of poetry, flash fiction, and short stories called, “Fairies, Myths & Magic: A Summer Celebration,” dedicated to the Summer Solstice. She contributed a short story called “The Changeling,” in the “Ghostly Rites Anthology 2020,” published by Plaisted Publishing House.

Find Colleen at Word Craft: Prose & Poetry at wordcraftpoetry.com.

Find Colleen’s author blog at colleenchesebro.com

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Book Review The Sensaurum and The Lexis by Richard Dee @RichardDockett1 #Book #Review #Steampunk

Synopsis

Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage?
Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.

Norlandia is a country under threat, as never before. The old heroes are but a memory, while evil forces gather, seeking power. They are armed with the latest devices that perverted science has devised. Control of Norlandia and everyone in it is their ultimate aim.

Who will stand in their way?

Under the command of the mysterious Mortimer Langdon, all that stands between civilisation and anarchy are Jackson and the rest of The Orphan Detectives.

Beta readers comments.

“A fantastical world filled with gears, pneumatics, airships, and intrigue aplenty that kept everyone on their toes. It has that rare ability to pull you deep into the story even when things are building and moving slowly, you sit down to read for a few minutes and all of a sudden; its hours later!”

Is Jackson Thwaite ready to discover the secret of Makewright Orphanage?
Although he doesn’t know it, he has been selected to be part of something vital to the land of his birth.

The Sensaurum and the Lexis by Richard Dee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was curious to discover more about steampunk… and this has confirmed how interesting and different this genre is.

The Sensaurum and The Lexis is a Steampunk Spying mission story set in Norlandia with lots of fascinating details, secrets and discoveries.

You can expect… unscrupulous scientific experimentation, artificial limbs, flying machines, The Watchmen, (law of Norlandia,) a beast called the Drogan, spy accouterments, (007 for orphans!) the Rotaplane, walking exo-men, and other such imaginative wonders. Oaths to be made, secrets and lessons to be learnt, the ever-present fear of discovery, or dying on duty, as well as shameful moments to boot!

The main character Jackson Thwaite’s father and mother die in a terrible accident in a factory whilst making artificial limbs for the government. Intriguing, or what? Fellow spy Jessemine Batterlee is plucky and resourceful!

Relationships are forged and questioned – Is it a good idea to fall in love if you are a spy?

Richard Dee does a great job world building and creating wonderfully engaging characters.

Really loved this. Great story and great fun! 5 stars. Highly recommended.

Authors Website: https://richarddeescifi.co.uk/


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