Book Review: The Bird Queen’s Book

Our external reviewer Bonnie Humber has sent in her first review for the book The Bird Queen’s Book by T.L Frances. Bonnie is new to the reviewing team. She runs paint nights in the North Bay area if anyone is interested.

Synopsis: What would you do if you found a mysterious book written in a secret language?

Thirteen-year-old Denny’s life is far from easy. He’s at the bottom of the food chain at school, he works a mind-numbingly boring student job at his uncle’s shredding store, and, on top it all, he has to try out for the school basketball team—and let’s just say basketball’s not his strong point.

But one day, he finds an ancient book in an indecipherable language. Could it be a secret code? Or maybe even… magic?
As Denny starts spinning a fantasy tale around the book, the real world begins to fade from view. It won’t be long before his problems catch up with him, crashing down one by one…

When Denny, a young lad trapped in the mundane rut of his middle school life, happens upon an old mysterious book in his uncle’s paper shredding shop, he is compelled to give the unreadable tome meaning. Inspired by the cover and beautiful, foreign script, Denny escapes his day to day problems by writing a history for the Bird Queen’s Book. His new obsession quickly starts to take over, and affect his relationships with the people closest to him. Is Denny able to keep his loved ones close, or will he risk everything that’s real for a fantasy?

Although the language and imagery were rather basic, I enjoyed the concept and the personality of a few main characters. Although this book is meant for children, I still found this story to be too simple. The story would have been better for me if the plot had more substance. There are so many intriguing areas in this story that could have been expanded upon. For instance:

  • A thirteen-year-old boy with an imaginary friend
  • The history or reasoning behind the outlawing of magic
  • The love and acceptance of Denny by his friend Max, despite Denny’s behavior

I feel that if the plot had more substance on a sociological level, the story would be more enjoyable and less flat.

I was captivated by the plot twist of the imaginary friend. I found this character to be one of
the most developed, and when I realized they were not real, I was truly surprised and I loved it! I really wanted to know and understand more about this character once this twist was revealed.

“Don’t be an idiot”, I scold myself. “It’s just a book.”

I love this quote because as any good reader can tell you, there’s no such thing as “just a book”. I really feel that this story needs some fleshing out. But once that is done, I would definitely recommend it to any young reader.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

There is also a new giveaway being hosted by us! Enter to win some traveling bookmarks and a logo sticker pack!

Enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5760930a4/?

Good luck and thanks for reading our reviews 🙂 Comment below if you have read this book and what your thoughts are about it!

Book Review: Trailer Trash – An 80’s Memoir

New book review up on the blog. This one is called Trailer Trash – An 80’s Memoir by Angie Cavallari.

Synopsis: Trailer Trash tells the story of Angie Cavallari, your typical girl growing up in the 1980s who finds herself cradled in an arm of a society that would be considered anything but your paradigmatic suburban neighborhood.

In 1980, Angie and her two siblings are dropped into a world of the poorest tenements during a decade where material wealth was worshipped. But these are not your usual run-of-the-mill Florida retirement occupants—these are tenants with issues that Angie soon realizes are the same that can happen anywhere—even under her own roof.

Her place in society is further confused by the fact that she doesn’t live in a trailer but nonetheless, shares a postage-sized backyard with a less-desired community by societal standards and attends a prestigious private school more than 45 minutes from her cinderblock castle.

After spending a decade living in a world of indiscernible differences, Angie’s family decides it’s time to pull up stakes, sell the trailer park and buy a double-wide trailer of their own in the Carnie Capital of World, Gibsonton, Florida.

Funny at times, nostalgic throughout, Trailer Trash hits on some serious notes and undertones about societal differences and the trials of surviving childhood in any decade and any environment.

I really enjoyed this book. The writer tells the story of her life with such ease and humor. It was very easy to read and cool to see how she grew up. I never knew what it was like to live in a trailer park but now I have some insight into it.

The author seemed to have a lot of guilt pushed on her about her weight as a child and that saddens me to know that her mother would make her feel like she had to look a certain way. We all have those relationships with our parents that regardless of how they unfold, tend to mold us into who we are today. If you read my last review for Fat Girl on a Plane, I talk a bit more about body weight issues and how we need to make ourselves feel empowered in our own skin.

At one point she talks about wolf spiders and if I was in that trailer where they were, I would be sleeping in a sealed tent outside. No way in hell would I be anywhere near those things…

My favorite character would probably have to be her grandmother. She could be a hardass at times but she seemed like a very fun woman. I don’t want to give too much away so I will stop there.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants some light reading and to have a laugh. Angie will keep you smiling as you read how she took on life as a child and young adult in the world of trailer parks and all the fun/interesting people that come with them.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Amazon or Goodreads or connect with the author on Twitter 🙂

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Fat Girl On A Plane

Aloha fellow readers!

I just finished Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly DeVos and it was phenomenal! This book presented a very positive message in a fun and entertaining way.

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Synopsis: Fat.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush and put her life on track.

Skinny.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

So first off, props to Kelly for making a book that empowers people of all sizes. This is truly amazing. No one should ever be shamed or belittled because of the way they look or how big or small they are.

The main character, Cookie, is a strong female protagonist that doesn’t always have everything handed to her and she has to work hard for what she believes in. There are times when life becomes “unfair” to her but she always puts her best foot forward and strives on. She is very talented and a fashion guru. A lot of the clothes that she made in the book sounded very cool and the inner geek in me would hope that she would make some of these for men so I could wear some original Cookie Vonn.

I really enjoyed her best friend Piper. She was such a hoot! And she was from Australia which is epic because that is my dream destination to visit someday. Piper was the “giver of no f**ks” and I felt that she embodied that very well 🙂

Tommy kind of annoyed me a little bit because of how he would handle situations with Kennes being a complete asshole to the person he calls his “best friend” but that was just a minor detail.

This book is a rare one that will get a great rating from me! There are few out there that I would give 5/5 but I have to give it to this one! I am usually pretty generous with 4/5 but I found I couldn’t put this one down and would read it at every opportunity I had.

I would recommend this book to anyone out there who feels like they don’t like their body or are uncomfortable in their own skin. Let this book take you on a journey with Cookie to become empowered and feel positive about yourself because you are beautiful inside and out.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads. You can find the author Kelly DeVos on Twitter and Instagram.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley to read and give an honest review.

PS. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my Giveaway Post where I am giving away a free book and some stickers!


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Book Review: The Meandering Muse

Hey Bookworms!! Guess what?!
The book reviews will be a little less often now as I accepted a part-time teaching position at Canadore College in North Bay. I am very excited to be teaching and will try and keep up with the book reviews to the best of my ability (I feel like I might be spending my free time lesson planning). For today, this book was called The Meandering Muse by Katherine Mayfield. It is a collection of short stories, essays, poetry, and musings of the author.

Synopsis: Step inside the mind of a writer obsessed with the workings of the Universe and crazed with the spirit of creativity.

This collection of delightful and thought-provoking essays, poems, CNF, and short fiction by award-winning author Katherine Mayfield will make readers laugh as they ponder the infinitely enigmatic workings of the Universe.

Ranging wildly from subjects such as multitasking, schizophrenia, shopaholism, money, and the government to the woes of a homeowner forced to use bananas and daffodils to humanely remove wasps from her living room, these unique and inventive Dave Barry-esque mini-symphonies of words will widen readers’ perspectives on life, nature, and human beings.

This book was very enjoyable. The author writes with such ease of mind, it’s wonderful. She talks about her overbearing mother and how that affected her as she grew up. She talks about Mother Nature and how we mistreat her and I applaud her for it. It’s nice to see an author emphasize her honesty and have it reflect in her “musings”.

The book is a very quick read at exactly 100 pages. You will find yourself laughing throughout and will overall feel relaxed reading this one. I would say this book is like having a conversation with your fun aunt who gives it to you how it is. She won’t ever pressure you to do anything and just wants you to be happy as you are 🙂

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book and add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format to read and give an honest review.
 
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Author Interview: Jay Cadmus

Hey there bookworms! I did another author interview with a gentleman I have been conversing back and forth with for a while. His name is Jay Cadmus and he is the author of Constable Outreach 35. I am currently reading his book and will be posting a review of it in the near future. But for now, check out the interview I conducted with Jay!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW


ERIK: What is your top read of 2018 so far?

JAY: Just finished reading a resurrected copy of The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra, Second Edition. With another in the TBR list of Scarab of the Black Vatican by E.R. Robin Dover.

ERIK: What is your favorite book friendship?

JAY: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.

ERIK: How many books are in your TBR Pile?

JAY: Periodically, I cull my book holdings, based on interests. As I grew – and, those I’ve outgrown. However, I’m left with thirty books. Think: …Re-Read. A picture would probably be best.

ERIK: Most anticipated book release of 2018?

JAY: Most anticipated release? Back in April 2018, I anticipated the release
of my book, Constable Outreach 35. Now, my next book. Don’t feel it’s appropriate to make this about me. So, I’ll leave it at that.

ERIK: How did you start blogging?

JAY: WordPress.com. I felt there was something inside I needed to get out.
Seeing the words that came out, where I fit into society. Based on what
I’ve been taught. Opening lines of communication. Learning from alternate
points of view.

ERIK: How long have you been a blogger?

JAY: With such a sporadic record, the start was near 2012. Consistently? In
linear fashion? Sixteen years condensed into three months. Learning as I
went. Most postings deleted. With the changes in the situation.

ERIK: Who is your favorite author?

JAY: Hard to pin down one of many. But, one author I follow today is
Steven Pressfield (The War of Art.)

ERIK:  Where is your favorite reading spot?

JAY: Grabbing a minute or three while waiting… wherever that may be.
Other than that, at my desk so I can make notes on my thoughts from
reading.

ERIK: What do you like about reading?

JAY:  Learning. Experiencing the thoughts produced by the words of others.
My reading and following action have made me change. I like who’ve I
become.

Sidenote: How great was that last answer! It gave me chills when I read how he responded to this question. Such a beautiful way to express his love for reading. OK, back to the interview.

ERIK: If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

JAY: Chameleon – Novice who learned from every ‘You’.


If you are an author and wish to have an interview with me, just comment below and I will be in touch with questions for the interview!

Talk to you soon bookworms 🙂


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Guest Post: Michael Clark

Awhile back, I put a feeler out on Twitter to see if anyone wanted to do guest posts for each other about being a blogger. Michael Clark saw the blogger signal high up in the sky and met me on the roof of a large building on a dark and stormy night to interview each other.

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We came up with 10 questions and answered them on each other’s blogs. His blog is http://MichaelClarkWrites.blogspot.com and he will be writing up a post with my answers sometime in the next couple of days! You can also find Michael on Twitter at @Michaelbigchees. I will let you bookworms know when it is posted. But for now, I will deliver his answers on my blog post so get ready to learn a bit about Michael!

ERIK: What is your top read of 2018 so far? 

MICHAEL: My top read of 2018 so far has been the Robot Geneticist series by J.S. Moran, he is a true genius.

ERIK: Most anticipated book release of 2018?

MICHAEL: My most anticipated release is the continued black ocean series also by Moran.

ERIK: How many books are in your TBR Pile?

MICHAEL: I have more books in TBR than there are sand grains in Georgia.

ERIK: Who is your favorite author? 

MICHAEL: My favorite author is either myself, Walter Mosley or Moran.

ERIK: How did you start blogging?

MICHAEL: I started blogging after spending 4 months waiting for an editor to get submitted to A magazine, and I started blogging to get my stories told.

ERIK:  Where is your favorite reading spot? 

MICHAEL: My favorite spot to read is my back porch.

ERIK: How long have you been a blogger? 

MICHAEL: I have only been blogging since April of this year.

ERIK: What do you like about reading?

MICHAEL:  I love the experience of being a different person for a while.

ERIK: If you had to describe yourself in a book title, what would it be?

MICHAEL: “A Gentleman and a Gangster”.

And that it for our blogger interview! If you wish to be in a blogger interview with me, comment below and I will send you the list of questions to fill out. It is a great way to open up to your readers and let them know a little bit more about you! I look forward to many more of these with my fellow book bloggers!

Cheers and have a great Sunday!


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Book Review: Vanished by Mark Bierman

I’m back bookworms and I have a new review for you! I will be posting about the Iceland trip a little later when I have gone through my photos. I read this book while traveling in Iceland. It is called Vanished by Mark Bierman and it was pretty good. The book cover was cool too. This is a huge thing in my eyes. I believe that every book deserves an eye-catching book cover.

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Synopsis: Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those. Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

This book was very interesting. Every scene moved quickly but it kept the plot moving along and it made it so that the storyline never really had a dull pause. It’s funny because one of the main characters is named John Webster and I actually know a John Webster 😛

The book brings light to a huge issue. Human Trafficking. It is such a big problem in 3rd world countries and it’s brutal because a lot of the human trafficking is children that are stolen or kidnapped off the street and thrown into slavery. In this book, the main characters are trying to save a young girl who has been kidnapped and put into slavery. So many people would turn a blind eye to it and say that there is no hope and she is gone but not John and Tyler. They go through a lot to find this girl and see unimaginable things that are genuinely upsetting but very real. There are a lot of cool characters introduced along the way and the story is told from all different perspectives that intertwine by the end.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the book was that there are some characters that are introduced and it seems like there will be more to them but then they are just dropped and out of the story, never to be heard of again. It only happened with one or two characters but I would have liked to hear more about their part in the whole thing.

Overall, it was an action-packed adventure that will have you on your toes from start to finish.

Book rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author to read and give an honest review.


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Book Review: Looking For Dei

New book review for you bookworms! This one was called Looking For Dei by David A. Wilson. It was fantastic! I loved this book and did not want to put it down when I picked it up for quick reading sessions.

Looking for Dei and a coffee

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Nara Dall has never liked secrets. Yet it seems that her life has been filled with them, from the ugly scar on her back to the strange powers she possesses. Her mysterious father refuses to say anything about her origins, and soon, she and her best friend must attend the announcement ceremony, in which youths are tested for a magical gift.

A gifted youth has not been announced in the poor village of Dimmitt for decades. When Nara uncovers the reason, she uses her own powers to make things right. The decision sets her on a path of danger, discovery, and a search for the divine. In the process, she learns the truth about herself and uncovers the biggest secret of all: the power of broken people.

This book was really good. I had been in a little slump of reading books that couldn’t hold my interest or were just not doing it for me but I am glad to say that this book refreshed me.

I really like how it portrayed magic and how to use magic objects as if they had an inner sight to them. And the play on using runes to funnel magic through was awesome. Who would have thought to get a rune tattoo and be able to use this magic whenever you desired. It played right into my inner nerd and back to my good old model building and battling days.

The main character Nara was a likable character. You could tell that all she ever wants is for the people around her to be happy. You can feel the mystery behind her past grow more intense as the storyline progresses. She has such strong power and you get to join her on her discovery of the immense power she has within.

I actually really like Kayna. She is one of the villains in this story but I just loved how emotionless she was. She had one purpose and it was to become very skilled with her magic to further her position in the political society.

I found Bylo a little boring but every character can’t steal my love so I guess that is ok 😛

There were some very obvious religious aspects to this book but it wasn’t so bad and thrown right in your face that you would just get upset with it. It was finetuned and incorporated into the story as part of the characters upbringing/understanding of their past.

I won’t say anything about the ending because I don’t want to spoil it but I will say that it was intense and everything I hoped for the ending to be. There is definitely hints at a sequel and I really hope it happens! Hear that David! When you write the next book, let me know so I can get it 🙂

Book Rating: 4.5/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me in physical paperback format by the author for an honest review.


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Book Highlight and Author Interview: No Turning Back

Here is another book highlight for a fantastic book called No Turning Back by Sam Blake! This is the third installment in the series.

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Synopsis: Orla and Conor Quinn are the perfect power couple: smart, successful and glamorous. But then the unthinkable happens. Their only son, Tom, is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run. 

Detective Garda Cathy Connolly has just left Tom’s parents when she is called to the discovery of another body, this time in Dillon’s Park, not far from where Tom Quinn was found. What led shy student Lauren O’Reilly to apparently take her own life? She was a friend of Tom’s and they both died on the same night – are their deaths connected and if so, how?

As Cathy delves deeper, she uncovers links to the Dark Web and a catalogue of cold cases, realising that those involved each have their own reasons for hiding things from the police. But events are about to get a lot more frightening . . .

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I’ve always need a basic framework to work to – I need to know where a book is going or I find it very hard to start. With No Turning Back I had lots of bits of plot but I wasn’t sure how they quite connected, so I took the advice of a writer friend of mine Alex Marwood and ‘wrote the stuff’. She sometimes writes forty thousand words of a story to find her way into it. I had a deadline looming so I literally wrote my way into the first draft – LOADS changed in subsequent drafts but I had the words on the page. With crime some level of plotting is essential – for me at least- so I leave the right markers in the story as I write.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

For me it’s getting the first draft done, getting off the blank page. Sometimes you have a very clear idea of what the story I about and it’s just a matter of finding the time to get the story written (a whole challenge in itself), but sometimes you’ve not got a clear path. With the first book you really do have the luxury of time to get it right, once you are under contract, the pressure mounts and you have to get it done – but equally your book is going to hit a book self and you need it to be the best work that it can be.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I wish I read more (I spend a lot of time, professionally, reading new writers books and that takes a lot of time) I love Karin Slaughter, Lee Child and Michael Connolly; of Irish writers I love Liz Nugent’s and Catherine Ryan Howard’s books. I look forward to every one of Jane Casey and Alex Barclay’s. I recently read CL Taylor’s The Fear and that was excellent. I love a book that packs a punch at the end and leaves you thinking.

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

Title and cover are VITAL to sell a book. I run an event where I read about 300 submissions and after that many, a good title really stands out. It’s the same for the reader, there are so many books to choose from and a good title and a cover can tell you so much about the promise of a good book. I’ve loved my covers and I adore the title of the first in the Cat Connolly series, Little Bones. It was called The Dressmaker for many many years and we had to change it for publication but it took several inflential people hours and hours to try and come up with something. Nothing was working and then out of the blue one of the directors at Bonnier (my publisher) came up with Little Bones. I’ll be forever indebted to her – it’s the perfect title, and so obvious when you have it!

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

I’ve always written, I loved creative writing in school, but the book I love most is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca is one of the most sophisticated psychological thrillers ever written, and I’ve discovered, on the shelf of every female writer I know. Before domestic noir was a thing, du Maurier took us, and the new Mrs de Winter, to Manderley, to a house steeped in its ever present, but deceased mistress Rebecca. Multi layered, this is my favourite book of all time, it’s a thriller and a romance and has twists that make it utterly unforgettable. I collect first editions, and I holiday every year yards from Frenchman’s Creek. I just love it!

 

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Book Highlight and Author Interview: Depths of Night

I was asked to partake in a book tour! Woohoo, this is the second one I have participated in and the book looks amazing. I am here to give you a highlight of the book and an author interview so here we go!

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Synopsis: 

After a harrowing end to a long sea journey, the famed northern warrior Ragnar Stormbringer and a force of warriors step ashore in the lands of the Petranni, a tribal people known for their workings in silver and gold. The search for plunder takes a sharp turn when homesteads, villages, and temple sites show signs of being recently abandoned.

When it is discovered that the Petranni have all taken refuge within a massive stronghold, Ragnar and the others soon fall under the shadow of an ancient, deadly adversary. Wielding his legendary war axe  Raven Caller, Ragnar finds his strength tested like never before.

Sounds great eh? I interviewed the author and here is what he had to say!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW

The author of the book is Stephen Zimmer and you can find him on Twitter as @sgzimmer !

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I am a mix between those two approaches.  In writing my various series, I came to appreciate the importance of having a sense of direction and destination.  I never want to write myself into a corner, and I do want to know where I am headed in a story.  This requires a core structure in advance, in terms of a basic outline.

At the same time, I do not want to constrict myself in the instance that a great new idea pops up in regard to new subplots, twists and turns of the core plot, or new characters.  I like to be able to give my stories room to breathe during the creation process, so I do not plot or outline to the point where I don’t have any room to maneuver if new elements strike me in the process.

I have found that this balance works very well for me, both in writing series and also in the creation of stand-alone tales such as Depths of Night.

 

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing in today’s world is handling the many hats that need to be worn on a regular basis.  A writer has to dedicate a lot of time to marketing, publicity, the business end, appearances, and many other things beyond the actual creative process.

These areas can be very time consuming and sometimes exhausting, and the writer must find ways to make sure that the creative path continues forward and is not too inhibited by all of the other things involved in a writer’s world.

 

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I love to read!  I am currently reading Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.  Heinlein is a favorite author of mine, but other favorites include J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Clive Barker, R.A. Salvatore, Paulo Coelho, Guy Gavriel Kay, David Gemmell, Robert E. Howard, and many others.  Reading engages the imagination like nothing else and I think that it is very important for writers to set aside some time for reading on a regular basis. You always learn something about writing from reading!

 

What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title?

In today’s flooded market, a good cover and title are extremely important.  Every week there is an enormous number of new releases, so you do not have long at all to catch a reader’s attention.  A good, catchy title, coupled with a strong cover, can help to gain the interest of a reader to consider buying your book.

I should also mention that a good cover requires more than just eye-catching artwork. A good cover involves skillful design and layout, including the section of title fonts and their placement.  A cover designer that is adept with both art and layout is worth every penny to a publisher or indie author who self-publishes.

 

Which book inspired you to begin writing?

My mother read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was just seven years old, and she followed that with buying me a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis in paperback.  I credit all of these incredible books for being the foundation of my inspiration to start down the path of storytelling and speculative fiction.  These powerful novels opened my eyes to the incredible possibilities of fantasy literature and I never turned back. 😊

Thank you for having me as a guest today at Breakeven books!

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